How to Compare Internet Providers Based on Average Download Speed
What is average download speed and why does it matter?
Download speed is one of the most important aspects of internet performance. It refers to how fast you can receive data from the internet to your device, such as when you browse websites, stream videos, or download files. The faster your download speed, the better your online experience will be.
Average download speed is a measure of how fast the internet users in a certain area, country, or region can download data on average. It can vary depending on many factors, such as the type of internet connection, the number of users, the time of day, and the quality of service. Average download speed can give you an idea of how your internet compares to others and what you can expect from your internet provider.
average download speed
In this article, we will explain how download speed is measured, what is a good download speed, how to test your download speed, how to improve your download speed, and how it differs from upload speed. We will also provide some examples of how different online activities require different levels of download speed and upload speed, and how to balance your needs accordingly.
How is download speed measured and what is a good download speed?
Download speed is usually measured in megabits per second (Mbps), which means how many millions of bits (the smallest unit of data) can be transferred per second. Sometimes, it can also be measured in gigabits per second (Gbps), which means how many billions of bits can be transferred per second. The higher the number, the faster the download speed.
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What is a good download speed depends on what you do online and how many devices are on your network. For basic web browsing or email, you may only need a few Mbps. For streaming HD video or gaming, you may need at least 25 Mbps. For streaming 4K video or downloading large files, you may need 100 Mbps or more.
According to the , the global average download speed in April 2023 was 79.18 Mbps, while the U.S. average was 154.23 Mbps. However, these numbers can vary widely depending on where you live, what type of internet connection you have, and how many people are using it at the same time.
How to test your download speed
The easiest way to test your download speed is to use an online tool that measures how fast you can download a sample file from a server. There are many free tools available on the web, such as . To get the most accurate results, make sure you are not using any other apps or devices that consume bandwidth, and that you are testing from the same location and device that you normally use. You can also try testing at different times of the day to see how your download speed fluctuates.
How to improve your download speed
If you are not satisfied with your download speed, there are some steps you can take to improve it. Here are some tips to boost your download speed:
Close other apps and devices
One of the simplest ways to improve your download speed is to reduce the amount of bandwidth that is being used by other apps and devices on your network. For example, if you are streaming video on your laptop, close any other tabs or programs that are running in the background. If you have multiple devices connected to your Wi-Fi, such as smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, or gaming consoles, disconnect the ones that you are not using. This will free up more bandwidth for your download speed.
Use a wired connection or a better Wi-Fi router
Another way to improve your download speed is to switch to a more reliable and faster connection method. If you are using Wi-Fi, you may experience slower speeds due to interference, distance, or obstacles. To avoid these issues, you can use a wired connection such as an Ethernet cable, which can provide a more stable and consistent download speed. Alternatively, you can upgrade your Wi-Fi router to a newer model that supports higher speeds and frequencies, such as 5 GHz or Wi-Fi 6.
Upgrade your internet plan or provider
Sometimes, the reason for your slow download speed is not your device or network, but your internet plan or provider. If you have a low-speed plan that does not meet your needs, you may want to upgrade to a higher-speed plan that offers more bandwidth and data. If you have a high-speed plan but still experience slow speeds, you may want to switch to a different provider that has better coverage and service quality in your area. You can compare different plans and providers online or by contacting them directly.
Use public DNS servers or a VPN
A final tip to improve your download speed is to bypass potential network bottlenecks or throttling by changing your DNS settings or using a VPN service. DNS stands for Domain Name System, which is the system that translates website names into IP addresses. Sometimes, your default DNS server may be slow or overloaded, which can affect your download speed. To solve this problem, you can use a public DNS server such as , which may be faster and more secure than your default one.
A VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, which is a service that encrypts and routes your internet traffic through a remote server. Sometimes, your internet provider may throttle or limit your download speed based on the type of content you are accessing. To avoid this problem, you can use a VPN service such as , which can hide your online activity and location from your provider and allow you to access faster servers in different regions.
Download speed vs upload speed: What's the difference and why do they matter?
Download speed is not the only factor that affects your internet performance. Another factor is upload speed, which refers to how fast you can send data from your device to the internet, such as when you upload files, post photos, or make video calls. The faster your upload speed, the better your online communication will be.
Download speed and upload speed are often different because most internet users tend to download more data than they upload. Therefore, most internet providers offer asymmetric plans that have higher download speeds than upload speeds. For example, a typical plan may offer 100 Mbps download speed and 10 Mbps upload speed.
However, depending on what you do online, you may need different levels of download speed and upload speed. Some online activities require more download speed than upload speed, while others require more upload speed than download speed. Let's look at some examples of how download speed and upload speed matter for different online activities.
Download speed vs upload speed for streaming, gaming, video conferencing, and more
Here are some common online activities and how they depend on download speed and upload speed:
Online activityDownload speed requirementUpload speed requirement
Streaming video (e.g. Netflix, YouTube)HighLow
Streaming music (e.g. Spotify, Pandora)MediumLow
Gaming (e.g. Fortnite, Call of Duty)MediumMedium
Video conferencing (e.g. Zoom, Skype)MediumMedium
Uploading files (e.g. Google Drive, Dropbox)LowHigh
Social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram)LowMedium
As you can see, streaming video requires a high download speed but a low upload speed, because you are mainly receiving data from the internet. On the other hand, uploading files requires a low download speed but a high upload speed, because you are mainly sending data to the internet. Gaming and video conferencing require both a medium download speed and a medium upload speed, because you are both receiving and sending data in real time. Streaming music and social media require a low to m