What is Download Speed?
Your download speed is a standardized measurement of data you can retrieve from the Internet to you in a given second. In other words, how fast you can pull information from the server to you. Download speed is almost always higher than upload speed by design because the average person spends much more time downloading information than uploading it. Download speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps) and determines the speed at which your browser can render web pages, how fast you can download files, and quality of video streaming.
What is Upload Speed?
As you could probably guess, upload speed is the speed at which you send data from you to others or to a specific site. Upload speed is relevant when you’re sending large files over email, or during live video streams. Like we mentioned, it’s rare for a company or person to need high upload speeds since uploading happens so infrequently.
The term “symmetrical” internet means that the download and upload speeds are the same. Both speeds are optimally tested when they are symmetrical, but this is a rare configuration.
Download Speed & Appropriate Uses
Many people ask “what is a good download speed?” The answer to that question depends on what you’re trying to do. In an article from the Los Angeles Times, Marc Patterson of mobile internet provider, Boingo, provides the following guidelines on download speeds and appropriate use.
2-4 Mbps: Enough for casual Web surfing, including checking email. Can be enough to stream a standard-definition video, but airports with speeds this slow usually don't recommend passengers stream video or download content.
4-6 Mbps: Will provide a good Web surfing experience. Often fast enough to stream a 720p high-definition video, and it's possible to download some videos within about 20 minutes at this speed. But 4 mbps can still be sluggish.
6-10 Mbps: Usually an excellent Web surfing experience. Generally quick enough to stream a 1080p (high-def) video.
10-20 Mbps: More appropriate for a “super user” who wants a reliable experience to stream content and/or make fast downloads.
20+ Mbps: Appropriate for what Patterson calls the “pro-sumer,” people who want to run a lot of applications at once, usually for business reasons. Users at these speeds can “blitz the network,” Patterson said.
Netflix Connection Speed Recommendations
As a point of reference, Netflix recommends the following download speed guidelines for their video streaming service.
Internet Speed for Netflix Streaming
||Required broadband connection speed
||Recommended broadband connection speed
||Recommended for SD quality
||Recommended for HD quality
||Recommended for Ultra HD quality