Switzerland’s Mobile Internet Provider

How Much Internet Speed Do I Really Need?

What the Bandwidth Depends On

Who hasn't experienced it? In the zoom meeting, your face freezes at the most unfavourable moment instead of confidently presenting the latest slide deck to your boss. Netflix just won't load and the hypnotic spinning of the loading icon almost makes you fall asleep. Or the email with the three big attachments just won't leave the outbox just before closing time. Slow Internet sucks! If you don't want to have a hard time, you choose a data plan with a high internet speed. The market promises 100 Mbps, 300 Mbps or even 1 Gbps. But what are such technical terms all about? And what internet speed do you really need to use everyday applications?

...The Basics First

If Mbps, upload and download speed are foreign words to you, a brief explanation first: Internet speed - also called bandwidth - defines how fast a file is downloaded from the Internet to your device (or vice versa). Bandwidth is measured in megabits per second (Mbps) and indicates how many of the smallest digital storage units "bits" are transmitted per second. For example, if your internet speed is 50 Mbps, you download 6.25 megabytes in one second. This is approximately the size of an ordinary MP3 song. 

But why is the internet speed always shown with two numbers? These are the upload and download speeds. Upload, on the one hand, means how fast you send data to the internet. Download, on the other hand, refers to how fast you download data from the internet. Upload is relevant for e.g. video calls or uploading photos, while the download is used for surfing the internet. Usually, you use more download bandwidth than upload bandwidth, which is reflected in the composition of most internet plans: 5 Mbps upload speed is often paired with 10 Mbps download speed. 

Now you have an idea of what the internet speed is, but you still don't know how much of these Mbps you need. To arrive at the right decision, you should clarify the following two questions. 

1. Which Internet Applications Do I Use? 

First, you should consider what applications you usually use the internet for. Whether you are an avid gamer, influencer, Netflix addict or occasional surfer - the internet speed you need is always different. It depends largely on your own usage pattern. The following graphics give you an overview of how many Mbps you need depending on your application. 

 

Infographic showing bandwidth by internet application
Quelle: CNET

As you can see, some applications don't need as much speed as you might think. For sending and receiving emails, you just need 1 Mbps. Social media and web browsing also require only 3-5 Mbps, depending on the website. For smooth video calls with your team, we recommend 10-20 Mbps. When it comes to streaming videos, 5 Mbps is sufficient, but depending on the image resolution, it could become difficult. With 10 Mbps, you can watch Netflix in Full HD without any problems. If you want to stream films on your 4K device in Ultra HD, you are well served by 25-35 Mbps. zu können, empfehlen wir dir 10-20 MBit/s. Sobald es an das Streamen von Videos geht, reichen 5 MBit/s zwar aus, je nach Bildauflösung kann es jedoch eng werden. Mit 10 MBit/s kannst du Netflix in Full HD ohne Probleme geniessen. Möchtest du Filme auf deinem 4K-Gerät in Ultra HD streamen, bist du mit 25-35 MBit/s gut bedient.  

2. Which Other Factors Influence the Internet Speed? 

You have a connection with a speed of 300 Mbps and only receive 50 Mbps with a speed test? Unfortunately, this is normal. The indications refer to maximum speeds. A lightning-fast internet subscription does not necessarily guarantee an effectively fast internet connection. The speed at which you actually surf depends on a variety of factors.

Hardware

If you have a wireless router with a capacity of only 300 Mbps, even the best and fastest Internet plan with several Gbit/s is of little use to you: The potential of your connection cannot be fully utilised and you can only surf at a maximum of 300 Mbps. Older routers and wireless standards are often slower than the faster cable-based connection you paid for. 

It is also important to note that nearby networks can interfere with your internet connection. Unfortunately, it is a fallacy that your personal Wi-Fi guarantees you exclusive, unrestricted surfing pleasure: the Wi-Fi signal is transmitted via two different frequency bands - the 2.4 and the 5 gigahertz frequency. These channels are also frequented by e.g. other routers in the same building and slow down your connection at peak times.  

In addition, your device must be able to keep up with the potential of your internet connection. If your device is outdated or the software and operating system are not up to date, your internet speed may be affected.

Number of Devices & Users 

The advantages of a wireless router are both a boon and a bane. Many devices can be connected to the internet, which is perfect for an entirely connected household, but at the same time it has a significant impact on the speed you end up with for each application. Thus, when choosing your data plan, the number of people or devices using your internet connection is one of the most crucial factors. If you are streaming and surfing as a single person, relatively few Mbps are sufficient, while more are required if you are several people in the same household.

Spatial Factors  

A central positioning of the router is essential for a smooth Internet connection. It should be in a place where the signal can be impaired as little as possible. Even the best router is powerless if it is hidden between a sofa, cupboard and a chest of drawers. 

If you are not surfing via fibre or cable network, but via mobile internet, obstacles between you and the nearest mobile phone antenna can also hinder the connection. The further away you are from the mobile phone antenna, the weaker the signal strength. If the signal has to overcome hills, buildings and finally the insulation of your home on its way to you, the speed is slowed down even more. If too many people need an internet connection at peak times, the mobile phone antenna can also become congested and the speed will decrease. 

Although it is not possible to eliminate all disturbing factors, it can help to be aware of them in case the internet connection should go down. 

Ready to Surf? 

Answering both questions will help you to choose the right speed. Imagine yourself in various situations in your everyday life and use the above graphics as a guide. This will help you identify the speed that best suits your needs.  

As an existing or prospective Digital Republic customer, you can choose the right plan after analysing your internet needs. Order a SIM card, measure how many Mbps you can effectively reach during the first free month and adjust the speed accordingly. You can upgrade or downgrade your subscription as you like. 

...And if all this is not tangible enough for you: our Flat 10 subscription is perfectly fine for surfing, watching Netflix and making video calls on your smartphone or tablet. The Flat 50 or 300 subscriptions are best suited if the connection is used for numerous applications via an LTE router at home. 

If you are still searching for a proper router, also read our article on the right LTE router for your home and nothing will hold you back from smooth browsing, streaming, posting and texting.

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