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What is a good broadband speed & how to improve it?

Ever wondered what is a good broadband speed and got lost in all those Mbps numbers? While we might know that more megabits mean faster internet, figuring out what’s right for our home can be a puzzle.

In this article, we’ll break down upload and download speeds so you can pick the right one for whatever you’re up to online. Whether you’re into speedy gaming or just casual web surfing at 10Mbps. We’ll help you grasp the idea of a good broadband speed for various activities and guide you in choosing the best speed for your specific needs.

What is the average broadband speed in the UK?

If you're not a frequent gamer or streamer and just use broadband for browsing, you won't necessarily need superfast speeds – a slower connection will do the job. In the UK, the average internet speed is 98,42Mbps.

For everyday tasks like working from home, browsing the web, and emailing, a speed of 10-15Mbps, even with ADSL (Asymmetric digital subscriber line) broadband, should be enough. But if you’re into online gaming or streaming high-quality videos, you’ll want a full fibre speed of over 40Mbps to avoid buffering and lags.

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How internet speed is measured

Broadband speed comes with its measuring method, using terms like Mbps (megabits per second) and Kbps (kilobits per second). These abbreviations often pop up when you look at broadband packages. Let’s break it down:

  • 1Kbps = 1,000 bits per second
  • 1Mbps = 1,000,000 bits per second
  • 1Gbps = 1,000,000,000 bits per second

These measurements tell us how quickly data moves online, like when visiting a website or sending an email. The more bits per second, the faster your broadband speed is.

What is a good download speed in the UK?

A good download speed in the UK starts at 10Mbps. With this speed, you can easily browse the net, scroll through social media, shop online, and even stream videos in standard definition. Nowadays, many providers, like Vodafone, offer broadband packages that kick off at a minimum speed of 35Mbps. With that, you can stream in HD and game online without buffers.

Let's see how fast you can do various activities with different download speeds:

Download speed200 family photos (200Mb)Playstation game (40Gb)2-hour HD Movie (4Gb)2-hour 4K UHD Movie(14Gb)
10Mbps2m 40s8h 53m 20s53m 20s3h 6m 40s
35Mbps45s2h 32m 22s15m 14s53m 20s
100Mbps16s53m 20s5m 20s18m 40s
250Mbps6s21m 20s2m 8s7m 28s
900Mbps1s5m 55s35s2m 4s

Getting a photo is fast with a standard 10Mbps, but bigger files might take a bit. You'll want a faster connection if you don’t want your downloads to stretch all day.

What is a good upload speed in the UK?

A good upload speed in the UK is 5-10Mbps. Unless you’re a professional YouTuber, hardcore gamer, or spend a big part of your workday on video calls, a 10Mbps upload speed is usually more than enough.

Upload speed neededActivities
1-3MbpsBrowsing, social media, emailing, working from home
3-9MbpsCasual online gaming, HD streaming
18-20MbpsVideo calling, uploading lots of files, HD online gaming, UHD, 4K streaming
20+MbpsVideo calling, uploading lots of files, HD online gaming, UHD, 4K streaming simultaneously on several devices

Higher upload speed means you can wrap up your work from home faster, upload files quicker, and stream without problems. However, when figuring out the upload speed needed, you should also consider the internet needs of others in your household. Add their required speeds to yours to get the upload speed you need.

How to pick broadband speed for your needs

Choosing the right speed for your needs involves considering your internet use patterns and the requirements of everyone in your household. Here are some key points to have in mind when picking the right broadband speed:

1. Consider your internet activities

Think about your primary activities online, such as browsing, emailing, social media, streaming videos, online gaming, or working from home. The broadband speed that’s right for you depends on how you use the internet. You can generally group internet usage into three categories based on the intensity and frequency of your online activities.

  • Light users – use the internet for basic tasks like online banking, shopping, and emails.
  • Medium users – regularly use the internet for social media, browsing, and catching up on their favorite movies.
  • Heavy users – spend a significant amount of time online, especially for activities that require a lot of bandwidth, like file sharing, online gaming, or streaming videos and music.

2. Consider your household size

Imagine someone in your house playing online games, another person watching YouTube, and someone else on a video call – all happening simultaneously. The number of people using the internet at one time affects speed requirements. Larger households may need higher speeds for multiple users.

3. Understand speed requirements

Light users may find lower speeds sufficient, while heavy users, especially those who engage in online gaming or 4K streaming, require higher speeds.

Broadband speed neededOne userMultiple users
10MbpsBrowsing, social media, online shopping, standard definition streamingNot suited for multiple users
35-100MbpsHD streaming, online gamingBrowsing, social media, online shopping
100-250MbpsUHD streamingHD streaming, online gaming
250-900MbpsUltrafast downloads, UHD streaming on multiple devicesUltrafast downloads, UHD streaming on multiple devices
900Mbps or fasterSimultaneous UHD streaming, online gaming, large downloads for many devicesSimultaneous UHD streaming, online gaming, large downloads for many devices

If your family uses the internet often, participating in activities like gaming, streaming, downloading, and video calling simultaneously, we suggest going for speeds of 250Mbps and above. For the best broadband experience, we recommend 900Mbps.

4. Search for the best deal

Explore broadband packages offered in your area. Look for the deals that align with your usage and household size. Broadband speeds generally fall into three categories: standard broadband (ADSL), superfast broadband (fiber-optic), and ultrafast broadband (full fibre).

The best broadband speed of our top providers

Does broadband type matter for speed

The type of broadband you have can significantly impact your internet speed. Different broadband types offer varying speeds, such as standard ADSL, fibre, or full fibre.

  • ADSL broadband uses existing copper telephone lines for digital data transmission. It offers higher download speeds than uploads, typically from 1Mbps to 24Mbps. The distance from the telephone exchange affects the speed, with farther distances resulting in slower speeds.
  • Fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) combines fiber-optic cables to a street cabinet and copper lines to your home. It offers faster speed than ADSL, typically ranging from 30Mbps to 300Mbps.
  • Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), often called full fibre, directly connects fiber-optic cables to your home, eliminating reliance on copper lines. It provides speeds ranging from 300Mbps to 1000Mbps, offering a fast and reliable internet experience.

Full fibre (fiber-optic) technology is the fastest method for transferring all types of data. Remember, when choosing a broadband type, you must consider your speed requirements and the available options in your area to ensure you get the performance you need.

What affects broadband speed

The broadband speed you get sometimes is less than what’s expected. There are a few things that can slow down your internet connection.

  • Distance from exchange. If you use ADSL broadband, the distance from the exchange matters. The farther you are, the weaker your connection becomes. That is not a problem with fiber broadband.
  • Number of connections. The number of devices connected to the internet in your home can slow down your internet speed. If you often download files, update software, or stream music and HD videos, it can cause a drop in speed for everyone on the network.
  • Your home set up. Your furniture arrangement, wall thickness, and nearby electronic gadgets can weaken the wireless signal from your broadband router. If you’re in a crowded area, lots of nearby routers can also interfere with each other and make your internet slower.
  • A router without password protection. Without a password, anyone can connect to your internet, which slows it down and risks your security.
  • Outdated internet browser. Using an outdated browser might be causing your internet to slow down. Ensure you’re using the latest version. It’ll provide a faster connection and enhance your online security.

Various factors influence the speed of your device. It’s not always your service provider’s fault if your speed is slow. Check these factors to see if there’s something you can do to improve your connection. It might be a simple fix.

How to improve broadband speed

If you’re not happy with your current broadband speed, there are a few things you can do to improve it:

  1. Adjust your router placement
  2. Consider a Wi-Fi extender
  3. Use the Ethernet for specific devices
  4. Opt for a faster provider / plan

If these steps don’t work, be aware of your broadband consumer rights. According to the Consumer Rights Act, if your connection is significantly slower than the promised speed, suppliers are obligated to take corrective action. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Contact your current provider. They might boost your speed or offer advice on self-improvement.
  2. File a complaint. If unsatisfied, complain about a potential breach of the Service Level Agreement. Registered providers must adhere to the Internet Service Providers Association code of conduct, responding within 5 working days and resolving the issue within 10 working days.
  3. Consider switching providers. If the problem persists, explore other providers. For example, Virgin Media with Gig1 plan offers speeds up to 1130Mbps. Before committing, compare download speeds and other factors in your area, as a faster connection is not guaranteed when switching.

Bottom line

If you can’t afford or access a full fibre connection with ultrafast download and upload speeds, look for a plan that offers above-average broadband speeds at a reasonable cost. Aim for download speeds of around 250Mbps and upload speeds of 20Mbps. We recommend opting for Virgin Media, which stands out as a high-efficiency provider with fast speeds and reliable customer service.

Don’t settle for speeds that won’t meet your business or leisure requirements, especially if your work involves handling large content files that use up a lot of bandwidth or if you enjoy streaming HD videos in your free time. It’s better to have a bit more speed than you need rather than not enough.