Internet access has truly become a utility in the modern world with all our activities dependent upon the speed and reliability of our internet connections. More and more people are working from home as well as cutting the cords to their cable TV connections to stream content online. This makes the speed of an internet connection even more important since work and pleasure both depend on it.
However, just knowing that you need a fast internet connection for streaming is not enough. There are several questions to be answered. Which providers are available in your area? Which type of internet connections do they provide? What speeds are available and what do you need? Should you go for a capped connection or unlimited data? So on and so forth.
Let’s start with the basics so we have everyone on the same page. Internet access is essentially your ability to acquire an internet connection on your devices, for example, a smartphone, computer, tablet, etc. The internet access can be bought from several providers in the U.S. that include big names like Spectrum, Cox, AT&T, etc. You will need to check which providers cover your area before starting to research their plans and prices.
There are two kinds of internet speeds, download, and upload. Download speed is the speed at which you can download data from the internet and upload speed is the rate at which you can upload data to the internet. These speeds are usually provided asymmetrically for all connections besides fiber optic that provides symmetric upload and download speeds.
Download speeds are usually much higher than the upload speeds, for example, you may receive 200 Mbps download speed whereas the upload speed maybe 10 Mbps, which is okay unless you upload large files regularly. Therefore, providers would usually advertise their packages with the download speeds only because that plays the main part in people going about their streaming and downloading, etc.
Here’s a table showing the approximate speeds you’ll need to stream different qualities of content.
|Type of Stream||Number of Devices||Speed Required|
|SD Streaming||1||5 Mbps|
|HD Streaming||1 – 2||25 Mbps|
|HD Streaming + Gaming||1 – 4||100 Mbps|
|HD or 4K Streaming||4+||300 – 500 Mbps|
|HD or 4K Streaming + Uploading||4+||1 Gig|
Data cap or usage allowance is essentially the amount of data your internet service provider allows you to send and receive over their connection in a month. Data caps can range between 10 GB to 1 TB depending on the bandwidth capacity. Although the best option is to opt for unlimited data connection. If you have to go with a data cap then it is recommended to stay closer to 1 TB for streaming so that you don’t end up exceeding the limit.
Internet providers have a certain bandwidth capacity according to their infrastructure. The more the capacity the higher the data cap they’ll provide. Usually, satellite providers like HughesNet come with lower data caps that stay under 100 GB. Whereas if you look at Spectrum packages you can get unlimited data no matter what plan you choose. This is possible due to the up-to-date infrastructure that Spectrum maintains.
Like I said earlier, there are several providers in the U.S. offering different types of internet connections. Every type of internet connection has its pros and cons, suitable for different users. Therefore, before shopping around it is crucial to know what the different types are and which one will suit you best.
This is by far the fastest internet connection available on the market with speeds going up to 1 Gig and upload speeds matching the download speeds, hence providing lightning-fast streaming. It is ideal for heavy internet users who love to stream 4K, download heavy files, or play online games. However, due to relatively new technology and expensive infrastructure the availability of fiber optic internet is still limited. If you are lucky to have fiber optic as an option in your area and it fits your budget then I would highly recommend you go for it.
The cable is the most widely used internet connection due to its vast network availability thanks to providers like Spectrum or Xfinity. It is a great option for moderate users who have a moderate usage of the internet that includes some streaming, online gaming, and downloading. Cable internet usually provides speeds up to 500 Mbps that are more than enough for an average American household and are easy on the pocket as well.
This is not as fast as cable internet but is still good enough for moderate users who would like to stream a little along with other activities. However, this is by far the most prevalent wired internet connection available in the United States because it is provided through telephone lines that already have a vast network throughout the country. Speeds would usually go up to 50 Mbps but would vary according to your distance from the telephone exchange. The longer the distance the slower the speed.
Satellite internet is available everywhere. Since there are no wires involved, all you need is a clear view of the southern sky and a dish antenna and you’re good to go. Downloads speeds would normally go up to 25 Mbps and reception can be distorted due to extreme weather. If you’re a light user who likes to browse around the internet along with some occasional music or movie streaming then this internet connection would suffice.
A dial-up connection that opened up a world of possibilities for us in times when technology only seemed like something you see in Star Trek or Star Wars. As you may already know this is the slowest kind of internet connection and if all you do over the internet is to check the news and emails along with some browsing around and a little bit of social media activity then this is a budget-friendly option for you.
Fiber optic internet is without a doubt the best internet for streaming but has limited availability and can get expensive. However, cable and DSL are good enough for average users and since they’re readily available they’re also easy on the pocket. If possible, it is best to avoid satellite and dial-up connections if you’re into streaming. Also, unlimited data is always preferable if available, otherwise, go for the highest available data allowance to avoid hefty fees. I hope this information will help you make the right decision so that you enjoy endless hours of streaming without interruptions.