In this digital age, the average American knows more about technology and the Internet than ever before. More than two decades ago, news anchors were asking questions like, “What’s the Internet, anyway?” Nowadays, there are 21.1 million Facebook users over the age of 65, and many use the Internet for activities including email, social networks, watching online video and consumer services like shopping or making reservations, proving that Internet sophistication has reached new heights.
But, there are still major misunderstandings around uploading and downloading speeds. At Windstream, we took a survey of our call center reps to get down to the bottom of those upload/download misconceptions to ensure that you’re making the most of your Kinetic Internet, whether you have 25 Mbps or gigabit Internet.
Download vs Upload Speed
First, let’s go over the basics. Download speeds are those that are typically listed as the fastest that you can get. Measured in megabits per second, it’s how fast you’re getting data from a server to your device. Upload speeds, then, are the opposite — how fast your device is transferring data to a server.
Most users don’t typically pay much attention to upload speeds — that is, until they have to face it. Upload speeds are most important when you’re sending large files, video chatting or livestreaming.
So, what are good upload and download speeds? The FCC has deemed “broadband,” or high-speed Internet, as those with download speeds of at least 25 Mbps and upload speeds of 3 Mbps. Of course, these speeds may not be “good” for your household, if you’re always connected — be it with multiple devices or smart home tech.
And, to tackle one of the burning questions our Kinetic by Windstream team gets: what matters most — upload or download speed — for online gaming? It’s a bit of a trick question. In truth, most systems recommend a minimum of 3 Mbps download speed and 1 Mbps upload speed for gaming. Those recommendations are for one person playing online at a time, so if you have more than one in your household, you can easily multiply the number of gamers by each recommended speed. Just like anything else, there are variations. Take, for example, if your online game requires players to host, you’ll likely want an upload speed greater than the 1 Mbps recommendation. What actually matters most for online gaming is your ping rate, the reaction time of your connection.
Now, taking a step back, know that you are paying for a certain Internet speed that should more closely mirror your download speed. Is your connection doing that? Use an Internet speed test to find out, and learn how to read these test results and why you should perform these regularly.
Multiple Devices Can Do Damage
The number of devices on your network can have a major impact on your upload/download performance. Many of our call center reps reported that customers were often unaware of the effects the number of connected devices can have on upload/download speeds. Every device that you run concurrently — including smart home technology and your smartphones that are on but aren’t in active use — can limit your overall speeds. For example, three devices all streaming HD video simultaneously could be consuming up to 15 Mbps. Be sure to disconnect any devices not in use. And, if you have roommates, consider establishing a broadband schedule to make sure high-usage activities — like video chatting, streaming or online gaming — aren’t negatively affecting everyone’s online experience, or consider upgrading your Internet speed.
Post-Dinnertime is the Worst Internet Time
Time of day can have a major impact on download/upload speeds. Popular after-dinner (8-10 p.m.) activities, like video streaming and online gaming, can really affect your Internet speed. Even beyond your own connection, community broadband networks see measurable lag time during this high-usage period, causing noticeable slowdowns for individual connections. Try staggering major usage activities, such as streaming or online gaming, during non-peak hours to avoid lag on your network.
These solutions will help you achieve the best possible Internet speeds on your network. But, if you’re still finding that your upload/download speeds aren’t facilitating your online habits, you may need faster speed options. Visit our Kinetic Internet page and enter your name and address to see what Internet speed options are available for your area.
And, one last word about download vs upload speeds: many traditional broadband connections — those that use copper and cable wiring — have made great strides in offering faster download speeds, but the same can’t be said for upload speeds. If you’re needing the fastest upload speeds — whether for gaming, file sharing or livestreaming — you may want to look into getting a gig connection, which offers symmetrical upload/download speeds of up to one gig!