How much is enough when it comes to your ISP speeds?


Reading through the love (and the loath, too) threads with people posting their dl/ul speeds has me wondering. How much speed do we really need? I mean obviously more is always going to be better, but how much do we really use it after a certain point? As someone who sometimes play online games and watches netflix streaming I'm guessing that the 30/4 connection I have is more than enough. But would I notice if it were a bit less?

Honestly I sometimes feel like I'm paying way more than I need to for the service and think about dropping down to save a little bit of money. Where do we draw the line between how much we're paying vs how fast a connection we get?

Considering that I don't even get the 75/35 I pay for, it's a pointless question, however, I don't lack for bandwidth.

plavonica wrote:

It honestly depends on your usage.

That, plus I've found that speed really isn't the only metric that I care about. Speed is certainly nice, but other factors such as usage caps, reliability and connection quality matter more.

When I'm thinking about speed, I think about what things I would need that speed on right this moment. I certainly want webpages fast, but unless you're regularly looking at deadendthrills that's reasonably light on the bandwidth. Do I mind my regularly patched games taking a few minutes or do I demand them done in seconds, how about that random file I thought was interesting. I'm also thinking would my ISP care if I leave a huge download just trickling in the background. Although I don't use them much, do they restrict torrenting?

It'd be interesting to get an inside view from ISP people to see both the technical side and the business side of those, but owing to the business side I doubt it'll happen. I know when torrents were new they were a huge pain for the number of connections they were making as much as being the latest bandwidth hog.

I've got no idea about what my actual speed is, but there are definitely times when I wish I had a touch more. Could be that I need a newer better router, to handle my PC, wife's PC and/or iPad plus the Roku for the kids to watch TV from time to time too. But overall, I don't know that there's an upper limit. Depends on how good streaming video gets, I suppose.

I currently have 25/1.5 (down/up) but I was honestly okay with 10/.5 speeds. However, I was capped at 10-30GB data per month at the slower speed but am unlimited at the faster speed... crazy I know!!

I find that, data caps aside, that the connection to the server in question is the most important aspect as it doesn't matter whether you're on 150/30 or 5/.5 if the server you're downloading from is limited to .1 Mb/s...

15/2 is about my 'enough' level now. Faster is nice, but other than huge downloads, nothing I do streams widely enough to suck more bandwidth than that.

As time goes on the first question that needs to be answered is how many people will be drawing from it at one time?

I mean, we can say that for me gaming you need a 7 mb line to play a game. Any less and you're chugging. For video watching the same is probably true if you want HD streaming.

From there I imagine bumping up a level per person might be a good place to start, so 3 people using it while watching video should be a 20mb line.

Also very much depends on your ISP.

Where I am in Canada, I'm very fortunate to have 28/1 cable service through a great, independent ISP that gives me a 300GB monthly cap that doesn't go into overages unless you pass that 300GB twice in a rolling two month average. I love the download speed but it is really more than I need. What I really want is better upload speeds because I want to get into livestreaming but you can't do 720p with a 1MBit upload. Unfortunately, because third party ISPs are still forced to use the incumbent networks, the speeds they offer are controlled and mandated by our telecom regulator which is basically owned by big telco. My ISP wasn't able to offer cable service at all until a couple of years ago and the first year was a sh*t show as the incumbent was stalling needed upgrades on their interconnect points, so they didn't have enough bandwidth and massive slowdowns were occurring. It's OK now but they have to order (and pay for) upgrades months ahead of when they project actually needing them because it takes so long for the incumbents to install them, something being done on purpose and which the regulator allows. I'd happily pay another $20/month to get my upload speed increased to even 7MBit.

In the years to come, speeds are not going to be what people want so much as reasonable caps (or better yet, elimination of them altogether). Bandwidth is essentially free and the current cap structure big telcos have is nothing more than a way to try to artificially protect the overpriced TV businesses they also conveniently own. They don't want you getting TV online a la carte, they want you paying $100/month to get 2-3 channels you care about. The "all cloud" future that everyone says is coming for all media including games is simply never going to become a reality when the big telcos are allowed to artificially restrict bandwidth like they are. I hope that one day, consumer demand will simply force them to change or maybe push regulators to not allow them to do such blatantly protectionist things.

I'm currently with Charter. I'm paying for their Plus service. I'm not sure what it's supposed to be, 30/4 I think. They've got the worst website ever for finding info on their internet service details.

This is what tells me:

Basically I mostly play TF2 online, the PS3 is used for netflix and downloading updates and there are 2 iPhones an iPad connected wirelessly. That's about it. I may see if I can drop down a level on service, because it doesn't sound like I really need so much. I have no idea if I have a bandwidth cap, I've never hit it as far as I know and I couldn't find any info about it on their website. edit: just found it, 250GB per month. No idea what I actually use.

I live in a house with two other geeky guys. One uses the internet about as much as I do (a lot). We find ourselves often clogging the tubes with each other's internet usage, so we upgraded. Honestly, even what we upgraded to is a little bit weak for our usage.


As it is, though, US internet is substantially behind the rest of the world. I would love to have FiOS, or more accurately, Google Fiber. But alas, this is what we're limited to here.

EDIT: I didn't realize it, but while I was testing it, one of the guys was watching Netflix. So yeah, that's still pretty close to what our base service is supposed to be, even with that load. *shrug*

As long as the 'free market' forces a monopoly on me vs letting me choose from competing companies it doesn't matter. I'm lucky to get service from the backwater cable company that comcast has 'partnered' with for my area of the county at all. Without real competition the phone company and cable company (if you're lucky enough to have both in an area) can set their prices eerily similar to each other and if both types aren't in a area you have to pay what they want for whichever tier you want.

Saw Verizon digging up the subdivision where I live this past week! Fiber's coming! And Comcast's going! Then I will have all the internets!

I'm on 30/3 right now and tend to get exactly that about 90% of the time, and if I could get more without paying significantly more money I would do so.

Very few sites I find actually let you suck down at your max bandwidth anyway...we have a 100MB Metro Ethernet connection at the office and I rarely see more than 20MB for any given site...

In my country it's not a matter of what's enough it's a matter of price. I am currently paying 35$~ per month for 78/1.5 (up to 100mbps VDSL with 60mbps minimum). It's practically more than what I need but my results are generally mixed in terms of what I'm getting. The issue for me isn't the speed it's more of a matter of what I can get for how much money.

My payment goes like this : 25$ for upto 100mbps VDSL provider ,7.5$ to the ISP for 100mbps (practically uncapped)and 3$ for "GAMER" package ( QOS for gaming) . In the ISP buisness the price hit rock bottom. I can get any speed for 5$ per month which also means I can't really go any lower on a lower speed. I got this price through a one time offer and the current prices are higher.

If I want to downgrade my speed to 10mbps at my VDSL provider it would cost me ... 30$s unless I tell them I want to terminate service and convince them to give me new customer price ( it's possible) and then they'll sell me that service for 16$~. The new customer price for 100mbps is about 32$ . If you pay double you don't get double the download speed you get 6-10 times more.

Our major issue is the pitiful upload rate(1.5mbps on VDSL and 2mbps max on cable). Today the internet is not only used for consuming content it's also used to share media , remote desktop and file access on the go. 1.5-2% upload speed is just not enough.

If you want to decide what kind of speed to get you should always look at ROI. You should figure out the list of capabilities you want your internet to have and then find a few internet provider that can supply your needs. Much like every other product an internet connection should be tailored to its user.

I'm on 50/5 which is pretty good.

I still want more upstream bandwidth.

Agree with the wishes for better upload bandwidth. My download speeds are good enough, but upload speeds are pathetic in China, which is probably why the video quality on our video sharing sites is almost universally terrible. I hope ISPs start to realize there is money to be made in offering this.

Heh, just because I like to brag, this is what I got on my Nexus 7, tethered to my Galaxy Nexus with Verizon 4G:


Very nice for portable Internet.

Until you blow through your cap in like 20 minutes.

Edwin wrote:

Until you blow through your cap in like 20 minutes. :P

Unlimited, my friend. Grandfathered in just before the new requirements

A local company was upgrading their trunk and offered fiber for ridiculously cheap prices to a limited area in the Twin Cities


For $35/month (not an introductory price, no caps)

Of course I don't ever see this speed in practice, but it is nice to download games off steam at 3-4MB/sec.


is what Im getting on shaw here in Canada, paying around 70 i think.

NSMike wrote:
Edwin wrote:

Until you blow through your cap in like 20 minutes. :P

Unlimited, my friend. Grandfathered in just before the new requirements :D

I give it 6 months until Verizon bends you over the pork barrel. They're pushing *everyone* off of unlimited data.


Not bad for an employee account.

From what I've seen, most companies' lower speed tiers work OK for most people. I mostly just play TF2, a few F2P MMO's, and my wife streams video on her laptop. My connection is more than enough to run everything at once.

NSMike wrote:


As it is, though, US internet is substantially behind the rest of the world.

Oh, NSMike, you poor spoilt fool. I have a very good connection for Australia


This is my home connection.


Hence, my iPad 4G continues to be a huge boon. Verizon 4G does not disappoint.


Edwin wrote:

Until you blow through your cap in like 20 minutes. :P

Here's the thing, I've got a 1GB plan and in the 4 months I've had it on and used it outside of wifi, I've never even gotten to 50% of my usage (and yes, I do the personal hotspot thing). You just have to know that you shouldn't stream video and/or image threads.

For me, I'm thinking it's time to push the home connection to the next level (or the following). It's just, my cable bill is already astronomical.

The thing I noticed when I was looking up the data cap for Charter is that if I drop down to the next lower tier my cap goes from 250GB to 100GB. That may be the biggest thing keeping me from dropping down.

As I mentioned, I have no idea how much I'm actually using on a monthly basis, though.


It's actually not half as good as it look though. I'm only guaranteed 20 down for international connections and even then, the best I get is usually 2-3. I wish Steam would up its bandwidth in HK. I could probably download my entire Steam library in under 24 hours if that were the case.


A lot better than the 5/1 I was getting with AT&T DSL, although that connection was rock solid and the speed never wavered. Comcast has been a little flaky, but generally pretty good. We had about an 8 hour outage a month ago, something about a cut cable that knocked out TV and internet for the entire town.

And this speed seems more than enough for all the devices in our home that can use it. If my two oldest kids are home from school it's not uncommon to have 2 laptops, an Ipad, a couple of Ipod touches, a roku box, and the desktop PC using our home network.


That's not bad for living in the boonies. I was surprised it was so fast. I knew it was good, but damn. I'm having a real hard time finding anything other than "Up to 30 Mbps" on their website, though. That's frustrating.

But in the real world, I think that latency and the middle men connections and all might have more of an impact on day to day web browsing. At a certain point you're just not capable of noticing the difference any more, I think.

fleabagmatt wrote:

Honestly I sometimes feel like I'm paying way more than I need to for the service and think about dropping down to save a little bit of money. Where do we draw the line between how much we're paying vs how fast a connection we get?

That's something you'd have to decide for yourself. There's no right answer. I will say that the way things are run in most of the U.S. leaves some people subjectively and many people objectively underserved.