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What different internet speeds mean

Discover how fast your internet connection is and what different speeds allow you to do.

How are broadband speeds measured?

Broadband speeds are measured in 'megabits per second', often shortened to Mb Mbits p/s or Mbps. Bits are tiny units of data, with a megabit representing a million of them.
The higher the number of Mbps (megabits per second) you have, the speedier your online activity should be. A high number should mean that downloads complete more quickly, webpages load faster, streaming of music or videos begins more rapidly and any video calls or online games played should display smoothly.

How fast is 'superfast'?

We define superfast broadband as being 24Mbps or more.

How fast is your internet connection now?

Do a speed test

You can test your current broadband speed here:

Or, search "broadband speed test" and follow the instructions.

Getting the most accurate results:

  • connect with wires - For the most accurate results, your computer should be connected to your router using an Ethernet cable (opens in a new window)

  • disconnect other wireless devices - Make sure no other devices or people use the broadband connection during the speed test.
    For the best results, close all other programs and internet browsers running on your computer and stop any active downloads.

Great, but what does that actually mean?

The table below gives a rough idea of how your connection speed will affect the time it takes to do tasks online:

Internet connection speedTime to load a typical web pageTime to download a typical 5 minute songStreaming video quality
56k dial-up modem14 seconds12 mins 30 secsLow quality
256k broadband3 seconds3 mins
512k broadband1.6 seconds1 min 30 secs
1Mbps broadband0.8 seconds41secs
2Mbps broadband0.4 seconds20 secsMedium quality
4Mbps broadband0.1 seconds5 secs
6Mbps broadbandInstant3.5 secs
8Mbps broadbandInstant2.5 secsTV quality
12Mbps broadbandInstant1 sec
24Mbps broadbandInstantInstantSuperfast
50Mbps broadbandInstantInstant
100Mbps broadbandInstantInstant
+100Mbps broadbandInstantInstantUltrafast

If you want to complete more than one of these tasks at once, then you will need to add up how many Mbps it will take.

What speed will my household need?

17 Mbps - Ideal for browsing and downloading

  • great for small households
  • good for multiple devices online
  • 30 mins to download an HD movie
  • good to stream online TV

38 Mbps - Great for multi user downloading & streaming

  • ideal for families with many devices
  • better for multiple devices online
  • 15 min to download an HD movie
  • better to stream online TV

76 Mbps - Best for multi-user downloading & streaming

  • ideal for speed freak families with many devices
  • best for multiple devices online
  • 8 min to download an HD movie
  • the best to stream online TV

What can I do to improve my broadband speeds?

There are several practical things you can do to improve your broadband speed.

See:

Ofcom - Improving your broadband speed (opens in a new window)

Cable.co.uk - How to make your broadband faster (opens in a new window)

Up to Speed campaign

The LGA's Up to Speed campaign (opens in a new window) aims to ensure every resident and business in the UK has access to faster broadband. Test the broadband in your area, see local broadband speed maps and see information on how to access the best broadband.

How do I get fibre broadband?

Remember, if fibre broadband is available in your area speeds will not improve automatically. You will need to talk to your choice of internet service provider (ISP) and ask about taking out a fibre broadband contract.

If you live in Dorset, see our where and when page (opens in a new window) to check see what's available in your area.

 

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