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Satellite internet speed: What is a good internet speed?

The short answer—that depends on how you use the internet.

Take our quiz, scan the internet speed comparison chart, or study this guide in full to learn what takes an internet speed from normal to good to best.

What internet speed do I need?

People toss around a lot of subjective words about internet speeds—fast vs. slow, normal vs. good vs. best. This guide helps you pin down those terms more precisely using government standards and user research.

But those numbers, while helpful benchmarks, still won’t tell you how to choose between different internet speeds or pick the right internet plan. The best satellite internet speeds depend on three factors no one can pinpoint but you:

  1. the number of internet users or devices using your home network at once, 

  2. the type of activities you do online, and 

  3. your own tolerance for competing for bandwidth with family members.

Once you crack that code, you can more confidently choose a “good” internet speed for your home.

For a quick recommendation on the best internet speed for you, read “Mbps and internet speeds, explained,” below.

Mbps and internet speeds, explained

How fast should your internet be?

What is Mbps?

Mbps means “Megabits per second,” and it measures how many bits of internet data an internet connection can transmit every second. 

An internet connection speed of 12 Mbps sends up to 12,000 kilobits (i.e. 12 million bits) per second; a 30 Mbps connection speed sends up to 30,000 kilobits (i.e. 30 million bits).

But is 12 million bits a lot or a little? The lingo makes more sense when you apply it to specific online tasks.

How many Mbps do I need?

The satellite internet speed chart below outlines how many Mbps you’ll need based on common internet activities you do and how many devices your household uses at one time.

If you want “normal” internet speeds, choose the row that best matches your most frequent activities and number of devices. 

If you want faster internet speeds, choose a higher speed than recommended for your activities and devices.

What is considered fast internet?

The FCC defines “advanced” or high-speed internet as a minimum download speed of 25 Mbps. The average internet speed for downloads sits much higher than that minimum, at 165 Mbps per household nationally.

In the end, though, whether you have “fast” internet always hinges on your typical internet use—and whether it pushes your connection to its limits or leaves breathing room for all internet users in your home.

Internet speed chart

Spot your favorite ways to use the internet in this satellite internet speed comparison.

Download speedRecommended activitiesConnected devicesStreaming resolution
12 MbpsEmail, banking, shopping, Wi-Fi, and light social media1–2360p
25 MbpsSocial media, music streaming, and occasional video streaming or video calls1–3480p
30 MbpsWorking from home, light HD video streaming, and light video calling1–4720p
50 MbpsHD video streaming, video conferencing, and light mobile gaming1–4720p
100 MbpsHousehold tasks, work, and entertainment on multiple devices1–5+1080p

Latency and high-speed satellite internet

Even at high speeds, all internet technologies have some amount of latency or delay between a click and its action.

High-speed internet via satellite comes with higher latency than wired internet from other service providers. But the FCC measures latency in milliseconds. That means satellite connections still send data to space and back in less time than it takes to blink.

Download vs. upload speed

Using the internet takes both download and upload speeds. Without upload bandwidth, your internet connection couldn’t process the clicks you use to request data from the great WWW.

Download speeds get most of the attention for a reason, though. Take social media, for example—even if you post a dozen photos or status updates every day (i.e. uploading data), you probably spend much more time scrolling your feed (i.e. downloading data).

According to the FCC, advanced internet download speeds start at 25 Mbps, uploads at 3 Mbps. For better performance, choose higher speeds. For lighter use, go lower. “Slow” internet connection speeds under 25 Mbps still work great for basic online tasks.

What is a good download speed?

25 Mbps or faster for advanced use
  • Wi-Fi support

  • Basics like email and banking

  • Streaming a clip of your niece from the family share

  • Viewing photos on social media

  • Streaming music or podcasts

  • File share for work

  • Video chat

  • Light mobile gaming

What is a good upload speed?

3 Mbps or faster for advanced use
  • Wi-Fi support

  • Basics like email and banking

  • Uploading a clip of your kids to the family share

  • Posting photos on social media

  • Saving documents to the cloud

  • File share for work

  • Video chat

  • Light mobile gaming

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