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How much fibre speed do you really need?

How much Mbps (read speed) do you really need from your new fibre connection for your household? This article breaks it down and with an easy-to-use chart to help you understand what you should sign yourself up for.
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Complaints like "its buffering", "but I watch Netflix in HD" or "Jannie is a gamer and I need a fast connection" are all valid, but we find that most of the time people grossly overestimate the amount of speed a household really needs.

For example, did you know that Netflix’s own stated requirements for HD streaming are only 5Mbps?

But my "movies are always buffering" I hear you say. Well, which "movies" are you referring to? YouTube, Netflix and Showmax are all under 10mpbs for HD streaming. We can only guess that these "movies” or "TV series" you are referring to are being streamed from sites "with lots of pop-up ads and CAM versions" :P

Don't worry we’re not here to realign your moral compass, but we can tell you from first-hand experience that a faster connection probably won't help too much with these sites. The simple reason is that streaming movies or series is a two-way street. You need a "fast-enough connection" - 5Mbps and upwards - "to receive" the content, but the site or server also needs enough speed themselves to stream the movies to you without buffering.

These "non-official sites" definitely don't have the network infrastructure like the bigger official streaming companies like Netflix or YouTube. And that’s why many a "wooden-leg-with-an-eye-patch-viewer" still prefers torrents to streaming - no judging!

Choosing the speed


When choosing the speed of your fibre line, ask yourself these questions:

How do you use the internet? Is it for personal use or are you running a business from home? If you are running a business from home does it involve downloading large files such as torrents or databases or is your business mostly email-based?

How many devices are connected to the internet at one time - think computers, smartphones, smart TV’s, game consoles etc?

How many people use the internet at home and what is the internet activity of these individuals.

One of the best reasons to get a "high-speed connection" (50Mbps and upwards) is if you have teenagers or more than three people in the household.

Why teenagers? Well, teenagers are basically "Bandwidth-Vampires". With all their social apps and addiction to posting their lives, outfits and philosophy online, you want more speed so you also have a little something in reserve to do what you need to. We recommend that you bargain about 10mpbs extra per teen!

Do you regularly use video chat or many phone calls via the internet using Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, Google Hangout etc? Do you stream audio regularly such as Spotify, Soundcloud, Google Home etc? Do you have a regular gamer in the house? This is one of the big reasons the speed requirement is pushed up.

The general rule of thumb is if you’re operating a large business from home that requires downloading media-rich data or streaming of HD content at high speed; you have regular VoIP and video conference calls incorporating multiple users at one time - then you are likely going to need a higher speed of between 50-100Mbps.

If your internet is purely for home-use, with one to three devices connected, occasional streaming for one user at a time, checking emails and browsing social media - then you are probably fine with under 10Mbps.

A good middle ground, for those with multiple internet users at home wanting to stream content, browse social media participate in Skype chats etc. is a 10-40Mbps speed bracket.

About the author

Jacques du Rand is the founder and developer of FibreTiger, a comparison tool that helps you find and compare the best fibre packages available in South Africa.
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