When it comes to choosing the right Internet plan – speed, price, provider – it’s easy to feel like a fish out of water. How do you know the real difference between 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps, other than 50? What does that additional 50 Mbps mean for you? How do you know if you’re getting a good deal?
There are a lot of questions when it comes to choosing an Internet plan for your home. The best way to approach this situation, like any good problem solver would say, is to start at the beginning.
The first thing to consider when jumping into the world of Internet is the definition of bandwidth. Merriam-Webster defines bandwidth as “the capacity for data transfer of an electronic communications system.” Essentially, bandwidth represents the capacity of the connection, so the greater the capacity, the more likely that greater performance will follow. Basically what that means is you can get the maximum speed allotted if you have the available bandwidth capacity.
Think of it this way. Bandwidth is like an expressway. The more bandwidth you have, the more lanes on the expressway there are and the faster everyone can go!
Bandwidth is measured in megabits per second (Mbps), with 8 megabits equaling one megabyte. A byte is usually used to identify the size of a file. That means it will take about 8 seconds for a 1MB file to download. So, choosing the amount of bandwidth you will need depends on what kind of online activity you, and others in your household, engage in most often.
Video-streaming has become one of the most popular online activities, but also consumes a lot of bandwidth. If you want to browse Facebook on your cell phone while simultaneously watching a movie on Netflix, you will need a plan with a higher bandwidth – one that provides a higher number of megabits per second. Netflix recommends a 3 Mbps connection for standard video, and a 5 Mbps connection for high definition video. So, if you only have a 10 Mbps connection, those two activities alone would nearly max out your bandwidth. If more than one person wants to be online at the same time, you would need more bandwidth in order not to experience lagging and buffering in your connection. Online video gaming is another larger bandwidth consumer to take into account. General web surfing and social media don’t require as much bandwidth, but are frequently used.
The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) published a helpful Broadband Speed Guide to assist consumers in figuring out how much Internet speed they may need for their household. The numbers in the guide are based off one individual using the Internet at a time, so adjustments for each additional person would need to be calculated in. To help with this, the FCC also published a Household Broadband Guide.
As consumer demand for Internet bandwidth continues to increase, many telecomm companies are working to upgrade their networks. Cincinnati Bell has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to build out our fiber network over the past few years. Today, more than 70% of the Greater Cincinnati Area is covered with fiber and that footprint will continue to expand for years to come. You can find out if fioptics is available in your area here. Also, don't forget to check out Cincinnati Bell's internet plans & featured Fioptics offer!
So, when it comes to choosing what Internet speed is right for your household, it’s important to consider how many people and devices are in the household and what kind of activities they’ll be engaging in. Utilize resources such as the FCC’s Broadband Speed guide to tally up an estimated peak usage. Then, after you have your grand total, check with your local Internet providers to see what plans they offer to meet your needs. The good thing about Internet speeds is that there are many options – Cincinnati Bell offers Internet plans up to 1 Gbps – so you can always adjust based on your needs.
If you ever have any questions, your friends at Cincinnati Bell are always ready to help! Happy shopping!