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close up of ipad ith icons of tech floating above it.Match your need with your speed

The old saying “a watched pot never boils” speaks to how slowly time can seem to pass. A newer saying, “a watched file never downloads,” may mean you need to upgrade your internet speed. As more and more of us work from home, participate in videoconferencing, stream high-definition content and take up online gaming, a slow connection may become a bottleneck.

The Federal Communications Commission considers broadband internet to have a minimum download speed of 25 Mbps and a minimum upload speed of 3 Mbps.

So, how do you determine what speed is right for you? It really depends on the services you use and how many household members take advantage of them. If all you do is general browsing or email, you can get away with lower speeds. Demand spikes, however, once you start launching high-demand applications such as HD video, multiplayer games, or frequent file downloads and uploads.

Even with their baseline of 25 Mbps download speeds for broadband, the FCC recommends faster speeds if you have two or more users or devices running those high-demand applications at the same time. For example, families need higher speeds if a parent in the living room watches Netflix while the kids play Fortnite or stream YouTube videos in their bedrooms. If you add more users or devices, the need for faster connections becomes greater, even if they aren’t running those high-demand services.

As our homes become smarter and we have more and more devices connected to the internet — smartphones, tablets, digital assistants, security systems, game consoles, etc. — higher speeds are necessary to get the most out of those devices.

Terms you Should Know : MBPS

Mbps means “megabits per second,” and it is how internet speed is usually measured, although it’s best thought of as how much data may be transferred. Latency refers to the time it takes for information to get from one point to another. Your internet speed is a mix of both. When you’re downloading a file, think of it broken down and packed into a fleet of delivery trucks. Even if the trucks are fast (low latency), more of them can get to you on a six-lane highway (high Mbps) than on a country road (low Mbps).