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How Much Internet Speed Does Your Business Need?

Derek Walter
, writer
Dec 11, 2018
Image Credit: Billion Photos/Shutterstock
> Technology

This is one area where it's better to get exactly what you need than to cut costs.

Any business today is an online business. Even if you're a corner flower market or operate a more sophisticated digital operation with numerous employees who collaborate in real time, connectivity speed is a critical question.

Your business must consider what internet speed you'll need to get those essential tasks done. The right answer depends on the type of business you have, your data needs and the number of customers you serve. However, there are a few key issues that should make any decision about how much bandwidth to push easier.

The terminology

The first key is to understand the different lingo on internet speeds. Speeds are described in Mbps, or megabits per second (not to be confused with MBps, which references megabytes per second). It takes eight bits of data to equal one byte.

The best way to think about speed relates to your home internet service or mobile connection through your smartphone. The average speed for phones on a 4G LTE connection in the U.S., according to OpenSignal, is about 16Mbps (which is actually on the low end compared to the rest of the world). The Ookla Speedtest service puts the numbers a bit higher, with a mean in the U.S. of about 27Mbps. Speeds are higher, of course, for home broadband.

Upload and download speeds

The main factor any business must consider is what it needs in terms of upload and download speeds.

One useful resource is the FCC Broadband Speed Guide. While it generally describes several consumer features, pay attention to the more intensive tasks. The recommendation is at least 25Mbps for download. If your team is going to be demoing videos to customers or regularly streaming training content, this is the minimum.

It's easy to just look at the download speed, but don't neglect what is promised for uploads. If you have large files that need to get to a client, those seconds or minutes can seem awfully long when you're sitting there waiting for information to load.

In essence, a strong 4G LTE connection should suffice for most needs, particularly if your team is distributed in the field or otherwise across multiple locations. However, a more intensive broadband speed – 100Mbps or even higher – may be necessary if your team needs to download or upload files regularly or conduct other resource-intensive tasks.

Choosing a provider

To find out what providers are available in your area, check out the FCC Fixed Broadband Deployment Map. From here, just plug in an address to see options in your area. If you want to inquire specifically about business services, you'll need to contact those providers directly. A search will turn up information like this:

The FCC Broadband Map can show you your local options for internet providers.

The best approach is to chat directly with a service provider once you have a full list of your team needs. Discuss your requirements and which plans tailored to businesses may be in your best interest.

Be firm about what your team needs and how a provider can best meet those needs. Some providers also offer connectivity from a mobile network as a backup if things go awry.

The bottom line is that speed matters, and scaling back on costs in this area could mean long waits or a hindrance to productivity in other areas. It's essential to make the right choice when it comes to internet speed for your business broadband service.

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Derek Walter
Derek Walter
Derek Walter is the founder of Walter Media, which offers writing and content strategy services. He is also the author of Learning MIT App Inventor: A Hands-On Guide to Building Your Own Android Apps.
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