The meaning of Mbit/s – and what is the right surfing speed?
You like surfing the internet and have recently also discovered your passion for gaming. When you purchased your internet connection with your provider, this was not yet the case. Since you hardly even used your computer back then, you also ordered a cheap tariff that does not offer great speed. Given that your current connection is clearly overwhelmed by your new passion, it’s time to look for a connection that offers higher data speed. You can learn what you should look out for and what role the term Mbit/s plays in our guide.
- What does Mbit/s mean?
- What are megabytes per second for?
- Why is internet speed calculated in megabits per second rather than in megabytes?
- Internet speeds: converting Mbit/s correctly
- What transmission speeds for internet connections are offered?
- What internet speed do I need?
- How can I boost my internet speed?
- How much Mbit/s does my smartphone need?
- What internet speed do gamers need?
- What internet speed do I need for video streaming?
- How can the transmission speed be tested?
The term Mbit/s is used wherever data speeds are advertised. It is an indication of speed. Mbit/s is the abbreviation for megabits per second. It describes how many megabits a connection can process or transmit per second. Since many people don’t really know what this term means, it’s a good idea to convert it to the more familiar megabyte. Eight megabits are equivalent to one megabyte. This means that an internet connection with 32 Mbit/s is capable of downloading a maximum of 4 megabytes per second.
Although internet speed is usually specified in Mbit/s (or Mbps), it is also sometimes specified in megabytes per second. The reason for this is simply that most people are more familiar with the MB specification. Most people have a rough idea of how big a 3 MB file is today. Specifications such as a hard drive’s read and write speed are usually provided in megabytes per second. The megabyte is simply the more widely used unit and can be understood more easily.
That’s a difficult question since there is really no special reason. Most likely, internet providers prefer advertising in megabits per second because the numbers are simply much larger, making the offer look much higher quality and better. Although a DSL connection with a speed of 16,000 Mbit/s sounds much better than one with 2000 MB/s, in general it does not make a difference which unit is used.
As already mentioned, while most people have trouble imagining exactly how fast 1 Mbit/s is they have better idea when it comes to a megabyte. It thus makes sense to simply convert Mbit/s into MB/s. Since a byte consists of 8 bits, you must divide the internet speed by 8 to determine the amount of data in megabytes. As an example, an internet connection that specifies 100 Mbit/s as the maximum speed can ideally transmit or download a maximum of 12.5 megabits per second.
The transmission speed always indicates the amount of data that can be transferred via the internet connection within a certain unit of time. The more data that can be transferred, the higher the internet speed. Although providers usually specify the transmission speed in Mbit/s (Mbps), Kbit/s (Kbps) or Gbit/s (Gbps) are also possible. The possible transmission speeds depend on the type of internet connection and tariff ordered. DSL is the absolute classic when it comes to connections. Speeds of between 16 and 250 Mbit/s are available. Most households today use lines with 16 or 50 Mbit/s, with 100 or even 250 Mbit/s often being available only in larger cities. Internet connections via cable offer greater bandwidths, with maximum speeds ranging from 20 Mbit/s to 1 Gbit/s. The same applies to fiber optic lines.
Not everyone needs an internet connection with a large bandwidth. If you only surf the internet once in a while, you can opt for a lower bandwidth. However, users who have to download a lot or like to play games will need a much larger bandwidth. That is why internet providers offer many different tariffs with different speeds, allowing each user to select a tariff that suits their own needs.
For those who only rarely use the internet and for a short time, a connection with 6 Mbit/s is already sufficient. If you surf the internet every now and then to check your e-mails or look at what social media has to offer, a classic DSL connection with up to 16 Mbit/s is the best choice. For all normal applications, this connection is plenty fast.
Passionate streamers who are looking to stream pretty much everything in terms of movies, series and music on the internet should choose an internet connection with at least 25 Mbit/s. Streaming services are becoming increasingly popular and offering an ever better range of services. Higher internet speeds are necessary to ensure a smooth streaming experience in high-resolution quality.
Passionate gamers absolutely need a reliable internet connection, as this is the only way to ensure that all games run smoothly without any connectivity issues or lagging. Different games often also require larger downloads and updates that almost always quite substantial and comprise several gigabytes. Here too, we highly recommend having access to a stable connection with at least 25 Mbit/s, with fiber optic lines or VDSL connections being ideal.
Users who always download or exchange a lot of data need a large bandwidth. We thus advise data collectors to opt for VDSL or cable connections with at least 50 Mbit/s.
Households with several members, such as large families or several people sharing a house or an apartment, likewise need a high-bandwidth connection. Even if each individual resident only surfs the internet once in a while or runs simple applications, the data throughput rate adds up when everyone happens to be surfing at the same time. Three, four, five or even more people using the internet connection at the same time results in intensive use, which should be taken into account when choosing the right internet speed. Connections with 25 or 50 Mbit/s are thus best suited for large families.
Clouds have become very popular today. They ensure that documents, photos, and so on are accessible from anywhere and that all this data is also backed up. People upload a lot these days and an internet connection’s download speed is usually much higher than its upload speed. Although these two values were once linked to each other, today there are already special tariffs that enable faster uploads. There are various tariffs that provide upload speeds ranging from 6 to 40 Mbit/s. If you tend to upload a lot, you should look for one of these special tariffs and pay less attention to the download speed.
It can be frustrating when you have chosen a reasonably fast internet connection, but still feel like surfing slows down to a crawl at times. However, your internet connection is not necessarily to blame. Here are a few ways to increase your internet speed.
Use a different server
It often makes sense to use a different server. The best network setup is of little use if the DNS server is slow and takes forever to resolve domain names. Such a DNS server is involved whenever you access content on the internet. It converts the web address you enter into an IP address so that you can access the relevant web page. Although people tend to use the DNS service provided by their internet service provider for this name resolution, it can quickly become overloaded or even fail. This can result in slower speeds, and in the worst case, no connection being established at all. Then it makes sense to use an alternative server, as doing so can already provide a noticeable boost in speed. However, this will only work if your data transmission rate is usually high. An alternative DNS server will not turn a slow connection into a high-speed connection either.
Optimize your Wi-Fi
In many cases, your Wi-Fi is also to blame if data transfer is not fast enough. This means that your Wi-Fi has simply not been set up optimally. The router and the PC may be too far apart, for example, or there may be solid obstacles in between. This may result in a significant data transfer rate drop. Repositioning the router and computer closer to each other often suffices. The router and receiver must also support the latest Wi-Fi standard: Wi-Fi standard “n”. If this is not the case, replacing the hardware could boost the connection speed.
Check your software
The router should always have the latest firmware version if possible. The same applies to any Wi-Fi repeaters you may be using. Network card and Wi-Fi drivers should also always be up to date, as this can help prevent compatibility issues.
Smartphones are mainly used to surf the web, watch videos or check e-mails while on the move. Since hardly anyone uses their smartphone to download huge volumes of data every day, it is not that important how much Mbit/s a smartphone has. The available data volume plays a greater role. It is possible to surf smoothly and without interruptions on the go even with only 1 Mbit/s. Providers often offer speeds between 1 and 42.3 Mbit/s as well as customary LTE speeds of 25, 50, 100, 225 and even 300 Mbit/s. Not many providers offer 1 or 7.2 Mbit/s cell phone speeds anymore, which is actually a shame because you can do a lot on the go (surfing, social media, watching videos or even streaming) even with these relatively low speeds. The same applies to the speed of 14.4 Mbit/s. The standard today is LTE, which is available at various speeds. The most common tariffs offer 50 Mbit/s, which not only enables problem-free surfing, but also fast downloads. However, just like with your home internet connection, it always depends on what kind of speed you need. It is thus important to choose the right tariff with the appropriate speed.
An internet connection with 16 Mbit/s should be actually sufficient for gaming, but since downloads and updates consume quite a bit of data, a speed of 50 Mbit/s is the best choice. However, if even more people access the internet or if installations are carried out at the same time, not even this speed will suffice. In that case, you should switch to 100 Mbit/s.
When streaming videos, the faster the connection, the better the quality of the stream. A fast connection is important for good quality and there is a simple reason for this. The respective provider measures the internet connection speed before the video stream even starts. Based on the speed prevailing at the time of measurement, the video stream is compressed. This clearly demonstrates that the faster your internet connection, the better the quality of the stream. However, you don’t necessarily need a very fast internet connection. For some providers, as little as 0.5 or 0.9 Mbit/s is enough to stream the video. However, the quality is not the best, so if you want to watch the stream in HD or 4K, you will definitely need a faster connection – ideally up to 25 Mbit/s.
Users often have the impression that they are not getting the transmission speed they are actually paying for. In that case, it’s time to find out the real transmission speed. This can be done very easily with a corresponding DSL speed test, which can be carried out online and is used to determine your internet access speed. For this purpose, test data with different file sizes is downloaded from the server but also sent, of course. This is the only way to test both the download and the upload speed. The different package sizes make the measurement very accurate and enable surfing speed to be determined automatically. This type of test is free of charge and can be carried out very quickly, for example at https://www.speedtest.net/performance/united-states.
Never before has it been so easy to surf the internet at high speeds and transfer even large volumes of data in the blink of an eye. Whether the speed is represented in Mbit/s or in MB/s is irrelevant, since these are only numbers and can simply be converted. When choosing a new tariff, be sure to pick the speed that fits your usage patterns. Doing so will allow you to pursue your gaming passion and everyone else in the house to use the connection at the same time without having to put up with lagging or stuttering. This ensures that surfing the internet and gaming is great fun.