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Internet speed: how much you need and how to measure it

Velocidad de Internet: Cuánto necesitas y cómo medirla

To see how fast your internet connection, whose unit of measurement is Mbps (Megabits per second), you only need to perform a speed test. Now, what speed do you need to hire if you’re watching YouTube, Netflix? How much ping is recommended for online games? Should you use WiFi or cable?

What a speed test indicates

A speed test usually measures three things: download speed, upload speed, and latency.

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The download speed (the most «popular») shows you how fast your connection can download or bring information from the Internet to your computer. For example, this happens when you open web pages, watch Facebook, WhatsApp, or open videos on YouTube. Speaking of which, Google says you need about 1 Mbps download to be able to watch low-resolution videos, 3 to 5 Mbps for high-resolution videos, and 20 Mbps if you want to watch 4K videos. Netflix says something similar.

Download speed is also what comes into play when you download things from the internet. And this redundancy is worth mentioning to explain the difference between the download speed, which, as I said, is measured in Mbps (megabits per second), compared to the size of a file, which is measured in megabytes or MB (GB or TB if they are large size), which is not the same. For example, it is a mistake to believe that a 50 MB file will be downloaded in a second at a speed of 50 Mbps. One megabyte equals eight megabytes, so the download from the previous example will take eight seconds.

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Upload or upload speed is the opposite: the speed at which information can be obtained from your computer on the Internet. For example, when you upload a photo to Facebook, send messages on WhatsApp, upload a video to TikTok, YouTube, or stream to Twitch. By the way, you will need 6 to 8 Mbps to stream high quality on Twitch or YouTube.

Unless you are a YouTuber or a player who is constantly uploading content to the Internet, this speed should hardly change on your Internet service.

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Latency («ping» + «jitter») indicates the response speed of your connection and is especially important in online games. Even more than speed. As a general rule, you should not need at most 5 or 10 Mbps to play online, but you need a low ping for a good experience. To give you an idea, a ping below 50 ms is excellent or ideal, up to 100 ms is acceptable or decent and above this value is already high and frustrating, especially in the case of games with terrible net code, for example SFV.

Unfortunately, in addition to the quality of internet service, distance is also a determining factor in pinging and is something that no internet service provider can change. That’s why online games work best with people who are geographically closer, if possible in the same country or continent.

How to properly measure internet speed

If you want to make an accurate measurement of your Internet speed, it’s important to make sure you’re in a place where there’s good coverage. In the case of a WiFi connection, you must be near the access point. If you’re in a place where the coverage or signal is poor, you’ll see low speed and high latency values ​​that probably don’t match what that internet service actually offers.

If you measure the speed of the internet at home, it would be ideal to do it from a computer connected by cable to the router. This will avoid any problems with wireless coverage or interference.

Before measuring speed, you need to check that no computer on the network is using the Internet, whether it’s opening pages, watching social media, or worse on YouTube, Netflix, downloading, or uploading something. If so, the test will be limited to using only the rest of the Internet capacity and not the total; therefore, the values ​​obtained will not be correct.

Internet measuring instruments

download speedtest mobile ping

Maybe the best speed test that exists now is SpeedTest. Although you can install the mobile app for a better experience, you don’t need to do this, as you simply need to go to the web SpeedTest.net in your mobile browser to see the ping and download speed.

speedtest upload speed and switch server on cell phone 2

To see the upload or upload speed, as well as to have the option to change the server and view the history of your results (very useful for comparing Internet services) you simply need to activate «Computer version» in the browser menu button (in the case of Chrome, the three-point button on the top right). This, as its name suggests, shows you the same version of Speedtest from PC to mobile phone.

Apparently, Fast also measures latency when the connection is running at full capacity (loaded) and not (unloaded).

Another website you can use to measure speed is Fast.com, a Netflix service. In this case, it is not necessary to do something special on your mobile, because this page runs very well on our mobile phones.

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