How many Mbps should I pay for? My ISP tried to sell me a 1 Gbps plan, is it worth it?

Mbps is one of the most popular searched keyword ever since the concept of streaming services became practical, much less, since Covid-19 broke out in early 2020.

As of early 2021, it is safe to assume that 25Mbps is more than enough for a single user to stream a tv show via their laptop, tablet or pc with Roku or Firestick, as well as connect to their job (via virtual desktop) and run a zoom conference call. Throw in some cellphone wifi usage, perhaps a quick youtube stream or sports game on the phone (tv & zoom running concurrently in the background) and you should still be fine. Multiply the number of people in your household by 25Mbps and the average family will experience even better performance since 25Mbps is at the upper end of what most users will need. My family plan is 200Mbps and I have up to 6 people (myself, wife + 4 kids in school) concurrently streaming zoom while on school applications with a tv or 2 or 3 streaming in the background, with myself logged into work, on a zoom conference and no issues at all. Don’t get me wrong, once a month or so I do need to reset my router but that’a non-issue once you realize the importance of rebooting your router periodically.

So, you might ask, what is the benefit of 1Gbps? To start, you need the proper hardware to work with 1Gbps and you will need technical expertise to configure it properly. For the most part, 1Gbps is for gamers and or those of you that need to download huge files (graphic/video editors in general).. you know, those crazy colored pc’s (with keyboards that light up) that look futuristic in the stores, that cost $2K+ and you really never understood why? You’re talking the fastest of the fast, intended for cutting edge FAST graphics and communications for the ‘experience’.. For most families, it’s more than acceptable to stick to the 25Mbps per person rule and if you’re into gaming then you probably won’t be reading this article to begin with.

But my ISP (Internet Service Provider) told me that my connection would be faster with a 1Gbps plan, what gives? Well, yes the would be correct in general, but to tak full advantage you would need the right hardware and understand how to configure it. Let me ask you this, did your ISP (marketer, aka non-technical sales-person) even ask you about your hardware when they were selling you (and trying to earn a commission) what brand your pc was? what your network card specs were? what applications you run? I’ll bet my bank account that the answer is no, 99.99% of the time. Did they recommend running a speed test before and after? Of course not, because that would be the same a pulling their mask off in front of you.

What is your best option? No matter what anyone tells you, always, ALWAYS start with the minimum plan (or 25Mbps/person) to see how that works for you. And always pay attention to the details of your wifi testing. I’ll go into the following topics in a future article but here is a reference list:

  1. 5Ghz has way less coverage than 2.4Ghz, 5Ghz performance starts to diminish just 10 ft away from your router. Connect to 2.4Ghz for longer range
  2. Download a wifi analyzer and watch youtube videos on how to select the best wifi channel for your home network
  3. Download a wifi signal app to measure the strength of your wifi network at various locations in your home. If you’re having an issue with streaming to your tv, then place your phone next to your streaming device when testing signal strength.

Comments and feedback welcomed, below. I will try to assist you if you provide enough details.

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