Understand how internet packet speed works


Does connection speed matter? The direct answer is yes, but faster speed is not always the best solution for each case: In fact, faster connections may not always be worth the extra money.

We all dream of an Internet connection without downtime or associated slowdowns, and we usually associate that ideal with faster access speeds. But isn't this just marketing trying to convince us of something that isn't quite so? After all, how fast will we really need it? The answer is not easy and depends on some variables that we will mention.

Internet connection speeds are usually counted in megabits per second, or Mbps. If eight megabits is needed to form one megabyte, this means that in a 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps) connection it will in theory take eight seconds to download a 1 GB file.

This raises a question: Speed ​​is of little use when there is a data limit, which applies to operators' access to mobile data networks. This monthly data ceiling is a way for operators to divide the service into layers, charging more for premium options - and thus keeping traffic levels on the network under control, and therefore optimizing the quality of service.And what uses most of the bandwidth? Usually, and for the average user, the answer is: Streaming video. For example, the Netflix uses about 5 Mbps for 1080p streams and 25 Mbps for ultra-high definition, or 4K content. THE YouTube it is usually a bit more demanding, since many videos are shot at 60fps and thus require twice the bandwidth, using about 7 Mbps at 1080p / 60fps.

Does this mean that if you have a 100 Mbps connection, you will be able to watch 20 simultaneous streams at 5 Mbps from Netflix? Not really. And the same applies to the example of a video on YouTube: Although it can average 7 Mbps, this is not exactly the bandwidth it actually uses. This is because the buffer is made in advance, so the service in question will always try to make the most of your connection for each stream.

Uploading (bandwidth available to send data) is another crucial element of the equation. Although it is more normal - and necessary - to download rather than uploads, when we need to upload something on the Internet, we will see the cost of the limitation - be it a video on YouTube, files on Google Drive or Dropbox or even making a call via Whatsapp and or Skype.

Upload speeds are associated with fiber access services - which is usually faster and can transfer more data at once. Fiber brings with it another small advantage: Lower latency (ping), which guarantees less time to load that site or increase the margin of success in online games thanks to greater speed and fluidity. This is only a few milliseconds apart, so you will almost never notice it.

What type of connection should you choose? Above all, think: How many people at home use the Internet? And what kind of content do they usually consume? If it is something that requires a lot of bandwidth, anything below 10 Mbps is recommended. As for surfing the Web and doing most daily tasks, this does not require major luxuries.


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