The ultimate guide to broadband speed: what is a good download and upload speed?

broadband speed

Looking for the speed you need? There are lots of factors you need to consider when searching for a broadband package that suits your lifestyle. Luckily, we’ve created the ultimate guide to broadband speed so you only have to pay for the speed you really need.

Where you live, how you use the internet and the number of people connected at the same time are key factors in deciding on the best speed for your household or business.

Hold on tight whilst we get you one step closer to finding a broadband speed you’ll love.

Download vs upload speed: what is the difference?

Most online activity involves downloading, including visiting websites, streaming movies, playing video games and receiving emails and messages. In more technical terms downloading is the way that digital data is transferred from the internet to your computer.

In contrast, uploading is the opposite of downloading. Uploading is the way digital data is transferred from your computer to the internet. This can be done by uploading images from your computer to social media, sending emails and messages or taking video calls and conferencing.

Most people tend to focus on their download speeds but if you like to stream music whilst sending your emails, the chances are both are going to be really important to you.

What is a good download speed?

Broadband speeds are measured in ‘megabits per second’, also known as Mb, Mbits p/s, or Mbps. The higher the number of Mbps the faster your internet speed will be and the smoother your internet connection will perform.

Check your internet speed with a free broadband speed test. Simply click ‘Go’ to run a speed test and get an accurate reading of your broadband.

We recommend aiming for at least 25Mbps download speeds for each person that wants to connect to your Wi-Fi. 

Most households need between 100Mbps – 400Mbps in order for everyone to enjoy a fast and seamless internet connection. 

Here’s what a household of three to five people can do with download speeds between 100Mbps-400Mbps:

  • Stream in 4k Ultra HD or 3D
  • Connect all devices in your home office
  • Browse the internet across 10+ devices
  • Play online games
  • Receive emails and messages

To achieve all of the above with ease, we recommend 50Mbps-100Mbps for small households and 400-900Mbps for larger households with more data-hungry users. 

What is a good upload speed?

A good upload speed is around half the download speed. This is much lower than your download speed because it is used for fewer online activities.

If a 100Mbps-400Mbps download speed is enough for a family of three to five people then an upload speed of 50Mbps-200Mbps is considered good. 

Feel as though upload speeds aren’t as important? Think again.  

Here are some of the things the average household can do with an upload speed of 200Mbps:

  • Upload large documents
  • Upload images online
  • Send emails
  • Video call and conference
  • Stream live games
  • Upload videos to YouTube

If you work from home and regularly upload large files to the cloud an upload speed of 200Mbps is enough to get a household of three to five people online at the same time without bickering or buffering.

To achieve all of the above with ease, we recommend upload speeds of 50Mbps for small households and 450Mbps for larger households.

What is bandwidth?

Your bandwidth is the maximum amount of data that can be transferred through an internet connection. For example, if your bandwidth is 50Mbps then your network cannot transfer data faster than 50Mbps at any given time.

Think of it like this:

  • Traffic is all the cars on a road
  • Bandwidth is the number of lanes on the road
  • Speed is how fast cars can travel on the road

The less traffic there is and the more lanes there are, the faster cars can travel. Just like the more bandwidth you have, the more traffic you can accommodate and the faster your internet connection will be. 

Network congestion between the peak internet usage hours of 7pm and 11pm is when many people notice their bandwidth. The less bandwidth you have the more likely you are to be affected by slower internet speeds during peak usage hours – similar to rush hour traffic. 

Activities that use a lot of bandwidth include gaming, uploading and downloading large files,  live streaming and loading image-heavy websites.

To reduce your bandwidth usage, you can close the programmes on your device apart from the tools you are actively using, you can switch off devices that are running in the background or you can reboot your router to remove memory cache and temporarily stored settings.

What can I do with my internet speed?

Here’s a quick recap of what you can do with your internet speed:

Ideal for smaller households (1-2 people)

Download Speed: 50Mbps – 100Mbps –  Browse the web, receive emails and stream.

Upload Speed: 50Mbps – Upload images, send emails and video conference.


Ideal for most households (3-5 people)

Download Speed: 100Mbps – 400Mbps: Ideal for most households to stream, work from home, play online games and browse online.

Upload Speed: 200Mbps: Upload large documents, upload videos and stream live games.


Ideal for the most demanding households (5+ People)

Download Speed: 400Mbps – 900Mbps: Great for home workers, streamers and gamers.

Upload Speed: 450Mbps:  Upload large documents, upload videos and stream live games.


Found a speed suited to your online needs? The great news is we have all of these broadband packages available. Find out whether we deliver to your area with our online postcode checker

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