How can understanding broadband / internet speed help me save money?

An understanding of speeds can help to understand how long things will take and avoid frustration down the line.

Warning: High speed and fibre options most marketed to consumers may be well above what is needed. Speeds can impact:

  • How many devices can be connected to the internet at one time
  • Quality and speed of video streaming and how to avoid buffering
  • Download speeds
  • Quality of video calls
  • Connection quality when gaming

To keep costs down, don’t go for a faster speed than necessary.

  • 10-15 Mbps should be fine for basic internet tasks such as emails and internet browsing in a single person or small household 
  • 30-40 Mbps should be fine for everyday internet use in most households
  • 50-100 Mbps may be needed in a larger household using the internet for a lot of data-heavy activities (such as streaming, gaming or video calling) at the same time.

Tips to make data last longer

  • Remember that some devices (smartphones, smart speakers, etc) and apps keep using data even when you are not using them directly
  • Video often consumes the most data. If you want to, you can lower the quality of your video stream, or turn off video for conference calls
  • If using WiFi, speak to your provider to understand your data usage. Some providers offer online portals which help you see how much data you spend each month
  • If using a mobile network linked to your phone, you can do a few things to minimise data spend. Try turning off automatic app updates, frequent calendar or email syncs, or background data. Most providers have an app to help you keep an eye on this.

8 Tips to boost your speed

  • Take note of how many devices are connected to the internet, and whether they need to be connected at the same time
  • If using a WiFi router, make sure it can reach to where you most use your devices. Try not to place the router in a covered environment. If you can’t move the router, try exploring WiFi boosters
  • If using a MiFi or mobile hotspot, put it somewhere that gets a good mobile signal. Try somewhere near a window or higher up
  • For mobile data, the signal and speed you get will depend on your tech and operator. For example, opening a webpage takes 3 minutes on 2G, only 4 seconds on 3G, and 0.5 seconds on 4G. Check before signing up to a new operator that you’ll get a mobile signal in your area with the mobile download speed you need
  • Not all mobile and broadband providers have good coverage in all parts of the country. Ofcom has a broadband and mobile coverage checker. Some providers have their own coverage checker too.

Further information and useful advice on internet usage and broadband options can be found on the Good Things Foundation website.

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