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Internet speeds and what they mean to you

Should you be concerned about Fair Use Policy?

· 3 min read

In our increasingly interconnected world, a reliable internet connection has become an essential part of our daily lives. From streaming movies and music to working from home and online gaming, our internet speeds play a pivotal role in determining our digital experiences. Whether you are deciding what plans to get for your home internet, or whether you are looking at data plans for your travels and trying to figure out what the fair-use policy actually means, it's useful to understand what the different internet speeds mean in terms of your online activities.

download speed

Internet speeds and what to expect

128 Kbps

  • Downloading: It will take you at least 17 hours to download a 1GB file, so you probably shouldn't even try since it will most likely timeout before the download completes.
  • Streaming: This speed is extremely low for modern streaming. Forget about watching videos or streaming high-quality audio. Even in low-quality formats, buffering will be your best friend.
  • Other Activities: You pretty much can't do anything. Basic web browsing and sending text messages might still be possible, but the experience will be sluggish, especially if images are involved.

256 Kbps

  • Downloading: It will take you about 8.5 hours to download a 1GB file — much better than if you were to try at 128Kbps, but still a significantly long amount of time.
  • Streaming: You can stream audio at a reasonable quality, but video streaming will still be out of the question.
  • Other Activities: Light web browsing and email usage are possible but might feel sluggish at times.

512 Kbps

  • Downloading: A 1GB file will take you approximately 4.5 hours to download. It's a long time given today's context, but if your file is of a much smaller size, downloading might still be possible.
  • Streaming: With this speed, you can probably watch videos in 360p — only if it keeps up its efficiency most of the time. YouTube states a minimum speed requirement of 500kbps to use its site, and unless your network speed is that efficient 90% of the time (which it isn't), you're unlikely to be able to use YouTube (and Netflix).
  • Other Activities: Basic web browsing and emailing are more manageable. Maps are slower but still usable. You will be able to browse social media platforms, like Instagram or TikTok, though loading might take time.

1 Mbps

  • Downloading: A 1Mbps network speed will allow you to download a 1GB file in about 2 hours. This is definitely not what we are used to today, but it is something that we could possibly live with.
  • Streaming: Standard definition video streaming becomes possible, but HD content will struggle. You might experience occasional buffering.
  • Other Activities: Basic web browsing, emailing, and video conferencing are feasible. You shouldn't have issues accessing your social media platforms nor most other applications.

5 Mbps

  • Downloading: Your 1GB file will probably finish downloading in half an hour.
  • Streaming: You can comfortably stream HD content on one device without buffering. Multiple devices can handle standard definition streaming simultaneously.
  • Other Activities: Smooth web browsing, video conferencing, and online gaming with acceptable latency are achievable.

10 Mbps and Above

  • Downloading:** A 1GB file will finish downloading in less than 15 minutes.
  • Streaming: High-quality HD and even 4K streaming are easily achievable. Multiple devices can stream simultaneously without issues.
  • Other Activities: Seamless web browsing, smooth video conferencing, online gaming with low latency, and large file downloads are all possible.

These are general guidelines, and actual experiences may vary depending on factors like network congestion and the quality of your internet service provider. To ensure a consistent and reliable internet experience, consider subscribing to a plan that matches your specific needs. Remember that while higher speeds often come with a higher price tag, they can significantly enhance your online activities, from streaming the latest blockbuster movies to staying connected with friends and colleagues around the world.

What does 4G and 5G speeds mean?

Now that we have a sense of what the absolute speeds mean and what they can achieve, let's take a look at what it means when people say 4G Speed or 5G Speed.

Theoretically, 4G speeds can max out at 300Mbps. But in reality, 4G speeds often range around 15Mbps, though there could definitely be instances where it exceeds that and hits the range of 40Mbps or even 100Mbps. But given the range of 4G speeds, this is pretty much sufficient for your day-to-day use.

5G promises even faster speed, delivering up to 20Gbps peak data rates, and averaging at around 100Mbps. If you need high-speed connectivity and very low latency, then 5G is your best bet.

💡 Not sure if you need to get a 5G plan for your travels? We break it down for you in our blog post on the need to get 5G speeds when traveling.

Should I be concerned about Fair Use Policies?

If you are getting an unlimited data plan for your travels, you would more often than not see a clause on fair use policy. Fair use policies typically imply that throttling will be involved — after you exceed a certain amount of data usage, your network speed will be restricted.

In most cases, the data allocated should be sufficient for normal use. But if you are a heavy data user and almost sure you will trigger the fair use policy, then perhaps what you should take note of is the throttling speed. As long as you are still able to carry out most of your essential activities at the throttled speed albeit some inconveniences, then there probably isn't a need to be overly concerned about it.