Every business today is an online business. Whether you’re a corner flower market or a sophisticated digital operation with numerous employees collaborating in real time, you likely need an internet connection to run some aspect of your company. But how fast should your internet be? Connectivity speed is a critical question to ask when buying business internet.
When evaluating how fast your internet should be, consider the type of business you run, your data management requirements, how many customers you have and how many employees need access. In this article, we explore the subject of business bandwidth, how fast your internet should be, and what to look for in an internet service provider (ISP).
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Internet speed can be measured in many ways. The most important are bandwidth and upload and download speeds.
Bandwidth is an internet connection’s maximum capacity over a specific amount of time. Bandwidth is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Eight bits of data equals one byte.
In theory, the higher the number of megabits per second, the faster the internet speed.
However, other factors influence internet speed, including the number of people using the network, your office shape and size, and your business’s internet-related activities. Notably, the speed at which you upload and download files will differ (more on this below).
Bandwidth is calculated assuming that only one device is downloading or uploading files at any given time. For example, if your bandwidth is 300 Mbps but two devices are connected to the network, each device might have a maximum bandwidth of 150 Mbps. That said, some providers prioritize certain applications or devices over others, so this is not always the case.
Upload and download speeds are the primary factors businesses should consider when selecting an internet plan.
A strong 4G LTE connection should suffice for most businesses’ uploading and downloading needs, particularly if your team is spread out over multiple locations. However, a more intensive broadband speed — 100 Mbps or higher — may be necessary if your employees download or upload files regularly or conduct other resource-intensive tasks from the same point of connection.
Various internet service types for businesses serve specific purposes and offer different speeds. The type of internet connection you should pursue depends on your area’s infrastructure, your business location and your use cases.
Here are the four most popular internet categories and what you can expect in terms of speed for each one.
If you’re debating relying on a mobile hotspot versus satellite internet for remote business connectivity, note that satellite internet is more expensive and isn’t as fast or flexible as a mobile hotspot.
The average business requires at least 25 Mbps of download speed and 3 Mbps of upload speed to conduct everyday tasks like emailing, exchanging files, using cloud-based software and videoconferencing. In fact, these speeds are the FCC’s official broadband definition minimums.
However, business internet speed requirements vary significantly between companies, and your speed needs will likely increase as your enterprise grows and you adopt more data-intensive processes.
Consider these factors when determining your internet speed requirements.
The FCC uses a 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speed for mobile broadband carried over cellular networks.
Use the following chart to get an idea of the ideal internet speeds based on the number of devices being used and the online tasks you need to perform.
Number of users/devices
Online browsing, email usage and research
Downloading large files, business communication like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and basic business Wi-Fi use
Videoconferencing and streaming, numerous point-of-sale transactions and frequent file-sharing
Video conferencing, frequent cloud computing and data backups
Seamless streaming, conferencing and server hosting
Multiple servers hosted, heavy online backups and constant cloud-based computing
Extreme speed operations with zero interruptions
1,000 Mbps (1GB)
Consult your ISP if you’re still unsure how much bandwidth your business needs. Many providers offer online calculators to help you better understand your needs and options.
The first step in choosing a business internet provider is to determine what vendors service your location. To find out what ISPs are available in your area, check out the InMyArea online tool. Input your address or ZIP code to see provider options.
The next step is to evaluate your company’s needs and budget constraints, and to compare those to the plans offered by the ISPs in your area. Consider the following as part of that process.
Discuss your options with the available ISPs and see if any vendors will price-match their competitors. Finally, take the time to read customer reviews for the providers you’re weighing — are existing users satisfied with their services? These steps should narrow down the possibilities and ultimately lead you to the right provider choice for your business.
Internet speeds may slow over time as the network ages and more people join. Run a regular speed scan on your network to ensure you’re getting the speed you pay for.
The best business internet service providers boast top-quality service with optimal speeds and excellent uptime. If you’re seeking a new provider, consider the following vendors.
Mark Fairlie and Kimberlee Leonard contributed to this article.