How Much Internet Speed is Best for My Business?

May 24, 2023

Businesses have varying needs when it comes to internet speed. Determining your ideal business internet speed depends on the nature of your work. Specifically, it hinges on the amount of data you upload and download, the number of connected devices, and the types of applications used, such as email, surfing or video streaming. Here’s a closer look at some of the variables of the discussion.

Measuring Internet Speed

People often use the terms “internet speed” and “bandwidth” interchangeably. While they’re both measured in megabits per second (Mbps), they refer to two very different things.

What is bandwidth?

Bandwidth is the maximum amount of data a path can handle simultaneously. When you buy internet service, you’re paying for a certain amount of bandwidth shared among all devices accessing the internet from your location.

What are upload/ download speeds?

Upload speed is how fast your device can put data on the internet, such as when posting a video on your website. Download speed is how quickly your device can retrieve data from the internet, such as when watching a video on a website.

How do bandwidth and upload/download speeds coincide?

Plumbing is a common analogy used to explain how bandwidth and upload/download speeds work together. Think of bandwidth as the actual size of the pipe or the maximum amount of water it can carry at any time.  And upload/download speed is how fast that water can be delivered, or the water pressure, if you will. However, the rate of the water flow (speed) can’t go higher than the size of the pipe (bandwidth).

Both factors – how much data the path can handle (bandwidth) and how fast it can be delivered upstream or downstream (speed) – contribute to what we know as internet speed. If the pipe is too small or the speed is too slow, our applications experience packet loss, latency or jitter.

Finding the Ideal Internet Speed

Determining which business internet plan is right for you requires understanding how much you can do with certain speeds. Here are some common internet bandwidth options for varying business sizes and needs:

  • 100Mbps Internet is great for small businesses with general email use, web browsing, light cloud application activity, voice over IP (VoIP) and no more than a handful of simultaneous video calls.
  • 500Mbps Internet is ideal for medium-sized businesses with a high volume of emails sent with attachments, regular phone use, consistent access to cloud applications and frequent simultaneous video conferencing.
  • 1Gigabit Internet is typically used by large organizations with more employees and bandwidth-intensive activities such as sending/receiving large files, viewing/downloading videos, high volume of simultaneous video calls and constant access to numerous cloud applications.

Can you calculate how much speed your business needs?

Home bandwidth calculators are easy to find, but assessing business internet is a bit more complicated. That’s because businesses vary in many ways beyond size and type. To arrive at the internet speed that’s best for your organization, you need to ask questions about usage, such as the following:

  • How much data do you upload to and download from the internet? If you upload less than you download, you may be able to work with a less expensive asymmetrical connection with lower upload speeds.
  • How many devices are using your internet connection? If you have many users or devices (3-5 per person), you’ll need a higher Internet speed.
  • How often do you work with images or videos? Images and videos are bandwidth-sensitive, so the quality and transmission time will suffer unless you have a high-speed connection.
  • How frequently do you use streaming platforms? If streaming video for training, collaboration, marketing or other purposes is frequent, you’ll need a higher Internet speed.

With so many factors in play, consulting a managed service provider (MSP) with expertise in business internet is a smart strategy for making the right choice for your business.

Is business internet speed guaranteed?

Once you determine the appropriate internet speed for your business, you must read the “fine print” on your provider’s contract. Speeds may be “ideal” or “typical” and not necessarily “guaranteed.” If your business needs guaranteed network availability and uptime, dedicated internet access (DIA) is an option that comes with a speed/availability service level agreement.

What’s the difference between dedicated internet access and broadband?

As the name implies, dedicated internet access is an internet connection that’s completely dedicated to your business use. The alternative is broadband internet like cable, which is shared with other users, so the traffic throughput is unpredictable and slower.

For more information, check out our blogs:

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