In today’s digital age, where our lives are increasingly intertwined with the internet, having a fast and reliable internet connection has become more important than ever.
Whether we’re streaming our favorite shows, playing online games, or conducting business online, we rely on our internet service providers (ISPs) to deliver the speed we need to stay connected and stay productive.
But with the advent of faster internet speeds, is 100 megabits per second (Mbps) still fast enough? Let’s dive into the world of internet speeds to find out.
Understanding Internet Speeds
Before we determine whether 100 Mbps is sufficient for our internet needs, let’s gain a basic understanding of internet speeds.
Internet speeds are typically measured in megabits per second, representing the amount of data that can be transmitted or received in one second. The higher the Mbps, the faster the internet connection.
Modern modems and home routers are now capable of handling speeds of gigabits per second (Gbps) or even more, while some internet connections are pushing into the multi-Gbps range.
With such high-speed capabilities, it’s natural to question whether 100 Mbps is still considered fast.
The Evolution of Internet Speeds
To put things into perspective, let’s compare 100 Mbps to the internet speeds of the past. Remember the days of dial-up internet, when we endured the agonizingly slow 56K modem speeds? The mere thought of waiting for webpages to load is enough to make us appreciate the speeds we have today.
Back then, the average webpage was only a fraction of what it is today. Nowadays, the average webpage approaches 2 megabytes (MB) in size.
If we were still stuck with a 56K modem, it would take approximately 10 minutes to download a webpage of that size. In contrast, a 100 Mbps connection would load the same webpage in milli-seconds.
The Rise of Bandwidth-Intensive Activities
While web browsing may have been the predominant activity during the dial-up era, our internet usage has evolved significantly since then.
Bandwidth-intensive activities like gaming, eCommerce, social media, and streaming platforms have become commonplace in our digital lives. In fact, Netflix and YouTube alone account for over a quarter of all web traffic worldwide.
To put the bandwidth required for streaming into perspective, Netflix recommends a minimum speed of 5 Mbps for HD streaming.
Even a 10 Mbps connection can handle it. However, it’s important to note that the demand for internet bandwidth goes beyond streaming services.
With multiple devices connected to our home networks, from smartphones and laptops to security systems and smart home devices, the demand for internet speed increases exponentially.
So, if you opt for 100Mbps Internet speed plan, it will be more than enough to stream High Definition (HD) video from Netflix or other streaming platforms.
For 4K streaming (UHD) on the other hand, you’ll need a minimum internet speed of 15 Mbps for Netflix but to be on the safe site and avoid buffering and frozen picture quality you will need 25 Mbps of Internet speed.
So, an internet connection of 100 Mbps would allow streaming videos in Ultra HD (4K resolution) on about 3-4 devices at once, as each 4K stream typically requires around 15-25 Mbps.
The Impact of Congestion
Another crucial factor to consider is congestion. During peak hours, when many users are simultaneously streaming, browsing, and engaging in various online activities, internet speeds can slow down considerably.
This is especially noticeable on cable connections, where the shared nature of cable infrastructure can lead to network congestion.
Internet service providers often advertise their plans with the phrase “Up to” a certain speed, indicating that the advertised speed may not always be achievable in real-world situations.
With this in mind, it’s worth considering whether settling for lower-speed plans, such as 25 Mbps or 50 Mbps, would suffice for our needs.
The Benefits of Faster Internet Speeds
While it’s acknowledged that 100 Mbps is still considered fast in today’s standards, higher-speed connections offer tangible benefits.
Opting for a 100 Mbps or higher-speed plan significantly reduces the chances of experiencing buffering, low-resolution streaming, or prolonged loading times, even during peak usage periods.
Moreover, the need for faster internet speeds becomes apparent when we factor in the growing trend of 4K streaming.
Streaming content in ultra-high definition (UHD) places a greater demand on internet bandwidth, and slower connections may struggle to deliver a smooth and uninterrupted streaming experience.
The Ultimate Decision: Necessary or Nice to Have?
So, is a 100 Mbps internet connection necessary or merely a nice-to-have feature? The answer depends on individual needs and usage patterns.
If you have a household with multiple devices, engage in bandwidth-intensive activities, or prefer to future-proof your internet connection, opting for a higher-speed plan like 100 Mbps or more can ensure a consistently satisfying internet experience.
In my opinion, since online services keep becoming more demanding in terms of bandwidth needs, I even recommend to get an Internet plan higher than 100 Mbps (e.g 200-300 Mbps).
While it’s true that lower-speed plans like 25 Mbps or 50 Mbps can still handle most light online activities, there is a higher risk of encountering occasional buffering or suboptimal streaming quality, especially during peak usage times.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to upgrade to a higher-speed internet plan depends on personal preferences, budget considerations, and the desire for a seamless online experience.
Consulting with your ISP and exploring the available options can help you make an informed choice that aligns with your specific needs.