VIPLeague Broadband Guide
Read our VIPLeague Broadband Guide to optimize your streaming
What affects speed?
The speed you get depends on the broadband package you buy and the way you use it. But those aren’t the only factors. Here’s why.
Your home’s WiFi gadget count
Having lots of different devices, like laptops, tablets, smartphones and games consoles is great. But if you and other members of your household are using them all at the same time, you’re sharing your broadband connection between all of them too. The result? There’s less speed to go round each device and more arguments.
The amount of multi-tasking you do
Maybe you’re downloading a movie while doing the online weekly shop. Or you’re listening to online radio while taking on World of Warcraft. The more you do at once, the more Mb you need. So the more multi-tasking you do, the more you might notice your speed tailing off. And if your mobile, PC or console is always connected to the web, it may be downloading updates when you aren’t using it.
The type of device you’re using
Many smartphones and tablets have inbuilt WiFi speed limits, so even if you’re on our fastest, up to 100Mb package, your browsing speed could still be capped at around 20Mb.
The age of your device
Broadband speeds have exploded in recent years – leaving older machines struggling to keep up with the times. If your device is more than three years old, chances are your speeds will be affected. Try connecting a newer device and see if you can tell the difference.
Your broadband traffic management
When someone is downloading and/or uploading a really large amount of information over a long period of time, it can slow down the broadband speed for other users in their area. Most broadband providers moderate the speeds of the heaviest users to keep things fair for everybody. There is some broadband providers who do truely unlimted or have no traffic management in place.
2. How is speed measured?
When it comes to speed, there are two terms you need to know: megabits and megabytes. Here’s how to tell them apart.
What is a megabit?
When broadband providers talk about speed, we’re referring to ‘megabits per second’. That’s a bit of a mouthful, so it’s often shortened to ‘meg’ and written as Mb. You’ll see broadband speeds advertised as being up to 8Mb, 20Mb, 120Mb and so on. The more megabits per second you have, the faster your broadband should be. So if you want top speeds, be sure to look for more megabits.
So what’s a megabyte then?
Megabytes tend to be used to measure file sizes. You’ll see it written as MB (not Mb, that’s megabits). When you download music files, movies or any document, the file will be made up of a number of megabytes. The bigger the number, the bigger the file. So while a three-minute MP3 track might be around 3MB, a two-hour movie would be much bigger. You might even see GB or gigabytes for really big files.
Here’s a quick way to tell the two apart: Megabits, or broadband speed, is written with a lower case ‘b’: Mb. Megabytes, or file size, is written with an upper case ‘B’: MB. So 50Mb is speed, 50MB is file size. It’s easy when you know how.
Downloading isn’t just about music and video files. Reading news from the BBC, checking a route on Google maps, receiving an email, listening to Spotify or watching a YouTube clip – they all involve downloading.
Do I download?
If you browse the web, you download. If you stream video or music, you download. If you play games or check your email, you download. In fact, whenever you use the web, you download!
What are download speeds?
Download speeds tell you how quickly information flows from the web to your computer. Broadband providers use it to describe the speed of their packages. But there’s often a difference between advertised speeds and what you actually get.
Do I need all this speed?
If you only use the web for a bit of browsing or email on one computer, you’ll probably survive with a slower connection. But if you’ve got several devices like laptops, tablets and smartphones in your home and want to make the most of what the web has to offer, you’ll want something that really moves.
Speed is particularly important if you’re into…
Streaming means watching video or listening to music in real time. If you’ve got fast broadband, you don’t have to wait for the entire file to download before you can enjoy it; you can listen and watch as you go.
Fast downloads will give you the edge. Fewer interruptions, less downtime waiting for downloads and faster updates mean you’ll have the chance to steal an advantage on the competition. Game on.
Doing lots of things at once
If you have a number of devices on the web, or if lots of people in your home are online at the same time, you’ll want fast broadband. That’s because when lots of devices are downloading at the same time, they all share your broadband speed. So the faster your download speed is to begin with, the better.
Whether you’re uploading holiday snaps to Facebook, chatting to loved ones on Skype or taking on the world with online games, fast upload speeds are a must. You will need really minimum 750kbps, 0.75Mb or 3/4Mb upload or you can struggle with skype or voice calls.
Do I upload?
Ever added some snaps to Flickr or Facebook? Posted a video to YouTube? Had a video chat with someone on Skype? Played video games online? Written a blog entry? All these things involve uploading. Even posting a tweet on Twitter or a status update on Facebook is uploading.
What are upload speeds?
Upload speeds tell you how quickly you can upload stuff to the web from your computer.
Do I need all this speed?
A lot of the fun things you can do online, like sharing photos and videos, gaming and video calling, need fast upload speeds. So if you want to do all these things quicker, smoother and easier, faster upload speeds are a must.
A quick upload speed lets you upload your photos fast, even if your camera produces really large files. So whether you’re posting an album on Facebook or uploading snaps to get printed at Snapfish, they’ll be up and ready in a flash. Smile.
To keep up with the action, you need to send regular information between you and your competitors. For serious gamers, fast uploads are a matter of (online!) life or death.
Keeping in touch with Google Talk and Skype is great fun. But without fast upload speeds your call could break up or drop out. The faster your upload speed, the more your chat will flow.
Backing up files
It’s a good idea to store important files online should the unthinkable happen to your computer. But to back up and store your favourite documents, you need to upload them to the web. Quick upload speeds let you save all your stuff, fast.