A Business Owner’s Guide to Understanding Internet Speed

Understanding upload and download speeds and their important terms

Often times, downloading and uploading have different speeds- downloading, being the receiving of files and uploading being the process of sending files. Regardless, both speeds are measured by “bits per second” which are very small units.

They’re so small that, generally, thousands of them are communicated per second. This means that the more bits per second your connection supports, the faster your upload and download speeds.

Bandwidth is another important term. It is, essentially, how many bits per second your connection has the capability of supporting. It’s easiest to think of the bandwidth as a straw- a large straw can transport more liquid than a narrow straw.

What the numbers mean

When an ISP claims that their newest service offers a speed of up to “5/1Mbps” it is referring to both the upload and download speed. The first number in the sequence – the 5 in this case- is the download speed, while the second – the 1- is the upload speed.

This means that when using the 5/1 connection, you can benefit from the ability to download a 25-megabyte file in approximately 40 seconds. You can expect to upload the file in around 3 minutes.

What “up to” means

An ISP that claims speeds of “up to 5/1 Mbsp”, they mean that in the ideal conditions, you can expect the 5/1 to be the service’s maximum speed.

A number of things can affect the speed of your connections. In ideal conditions, you would be located close to your ISP,  use a modern connection, and have a hardy, well-functioning computer.  A modern connection is considered to be a connection that uses a fiber-base and an old, slower connection, is one that uses copper cables.

Types of popular connections

The traditional connection method is that of the copper cables. Today, however, many providers are starting to branch out and offer newer, faster connections- one such connection being the fiber-optic connection.

The fiber optic connection provides up to 100x the bandwidth and the same upload and download speeds. These connections can work at a speed of up to 1Gb (gigabyte) per second, which means that the 25-megabyte file that was mentioned above would be uploaded or downloaded almost instantaneously. A large file, such as a movie, could be downloaded within a matter of seconds.

The newest type of connection is FTTP (fiber to the premises) connection. This speedy connection uses fiber cables along every inch of the connection.

What affects your internet speed? 

As mentioned above, the type of connection you have, the distance between you and the ISP, and the make and model of the computer you use all affect the internet speed. However, the key player is the number of people using your connection at any given time.

For example, if 6 of your employees are using the internet to send emails, the connection will be faster than if the same employees were using the internet to download large MP3 or MP4 files.

What speed do I need?

To figure out what speed your business needs you will need to consider the following guidelines.

25/5 Mbps: Most efficient when used on 2-4 devices and for basic emails/ communication and surface web browsing.

50/10 Mbps: Most efficient when used on 3-6 devices and for transaction processing of high volumes.

110/15 Mbps: Most efficient when used on 8-12 devices and for online backing and regular file sharing.

155/15 Mbps: Most efficient when used on 10-14 devices and for use of applications that use cloud backing.

330/20 Mbps: Most efficient when used on 12-16 devices and for hosted websites and the backup of large volumes of files onto the cloud.

In your quest for high-speed internet, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of the business. Before settling on a provider, consider their upload and download speeds and what kind of connection they use to ensure that situational factors such as your location won’t render the connection useless and harm your business in the long run.