Fast broadband is quite expensive to buy in many European countries. As a result, you might be wondering how much broadband speed it’s really worth paying for.
In this guide, we’ve outlined how much bandwidth you really need to pay for, given how many people live at home, and how you use the internet.
Why broadband speed matters
Before buying a new broadband tariff, it’s very important to consider what internet speed you need.
- If you buy a plan with more bandwidth than you need, you’ll end up wasting a significant amount of money – probably at least €10 per month, and possibly up to €30 per month if you buy an ultrafast fibre broadband tariff that you don’t really need.
- If you buy an internet offer with not enough bandwidth for your needs, you’ll experience buffering when trying to stream videos, lag when gaming, and potentially even your internet connection dropping out momentarily.
Basically, you can think about your internet connection like a traffic tunnel.
The wider the tunnel, or the more bandwidth you have, the more cars or internet data can be transmitted at any given moment.
If the tunnel isn’t wide enough, there will be traffic jams. Similarly, if you don’t have enough bandwidth, your internet connection will slow down considerably.
What affects how much internet speed you need?
Here are some factors that affect how much bandwidth it’s worth paying for.
- How many people live at home, and how often they get online. This affects how much your internet connection is used, and how much data your household requests at any given moment.
- What you use the internet for. If you mostly browse web pages and social media, rather than watching 4K video streams, this means you’ll use less data, and you’ll need less bandwidth. But if you often have multiple people doing data-intensive activities at the same time, you will want a faster internet tariff.
- Whether you work from home. If you need fast internet to be productive, avoiding any slowdowns is particularly important. Depending on what you do for work, you may also want to get fast broadband because this will make the process of downloading large files much faster.
- Whether you play online games. You do not need faster internet to play multiplayer games – having a low latency is much more important. However, if lots of people get online at the same time while you’re gaming, this could significantly affect your ping if you don’t have enough bandwidth, making most games unplayable due to lag.
What broadband speed do I need?
Here are some rough guidelines you can use to calculate how much broadband speed it’s worth paying for.
- For a 1-person household, a 50 Mbit/s download speed will offer plenty of bandwidth, in most cases. It’s only worth paying for more if you often download large files, and want to make the process quicker.
- For a 2-3 person household, a 100 Mbit/s download speed is enough. You would only want faster speeds if everyone is often online at the same time, or you often download large files.
- For a 4-person household, a 150-200 Mbit/s download speed will give you a good internet experience. Once again, it’s only worth investing in faster speeds if multiple people are heavy internet users.
While you can get full fibre-to-the-home broadband speeds of 500-1000 Mbit/s in most European countries, most of the time, having broadband this fast is a luxury more than anything.
We’d only recommend paying for these types of speeds if you really value making large downloads very quick to complete, or if you are constantly downloading/uploading large amounts of data.
What about my upload speed?
In most cases, the main thing to consider when deciding which broadband offer to buy is the download speed advertised.
Most of the time, a broadband plan will come with a reasonable upload speed, given the download speed on offer.
In some countries, like Sweden, your download speed will match your upload speed, which is great. But most of the time, your upload speed will be significantly slower than your download speed, and this is perfectly normal.
- A 5 Mbit/s upload speed is quite slow, but should be enough for 1-2 people
- A 10 Mbit/s upload speed is enough for 2-3 person households.
- A 15 Mbit/s or higher upload speed is best for 3-4 people.
You would only ever need a higher upload speed if you broadcast content on websites like Twitch, or if you often upload large files because you work from home, for example.
I’m Roger, and I’m the founder of Broadband 4 Europe.
I grew up in Switzerland but live in Germany now, and also lived in South Tirol for a while in the past.
I have a background in IT and have performed extensive research into the broadband markets of most major European countries. Learning about fixed-line broadband markets is my nerdy hobby, but I’m also excited by the possibilities that 5G (and eventually 6G) broadband will provide us in the future.
When I’m not researching broadband companies and their networks, you’ll find me playing volleyball or the piano.