Why broadband speed matters
Faster broadband speeds allow web pages to load faster, make video calls go more smoothly without so many interruptions, and let you stream movies and TV at much higher quality.
Device quantity is one of the primary reasons why speed is so important today. The number of connected devices used in the average home is growing all the time. Research from Deloitte shows that here in the UK, each person uses 3.5 different connected devices on average. The more devices that are used, the more they compete for bandwidth, and the slower they’re able to run.
If you find that you’re struggling to carry out your digital work or leisure activities because of slow speeds, you may want to consider upgrading. If you’re unsure what speeds you’re getting, you can run a quick broadband speed test that will tell you your upload and download speeds in Megabits per second, or Mbps. The test works by downloading and uploading small amounts of data to see how quickly your internet service can complete the tasks.
How is speed measured?
Internet speed is measured in Megabits per second (Mbps). This tells you how fast data moves between your internet service provider’s tower and the device you’re using at home. The higher the Mbps, the speedier your internet, and the faster you should be able to carry out your activities.
It’s important to note that there are two different types of internet speeds. There are upload speeds, which refer to how quickly you can send data, such as forwarding a file to a colleague. And there are download speeds, which refer to how quickly you can receive data, such as streaming a movie. It’s usually possible to find both upload and download speeds when looking at a broadband package. However, when you see just one speed quoted, this will always be the download speed. As most people download more data than they upload, download speeds are considered most important.
What is the fastest home broadband speed in the UK?
At Virgin Media, our 500 Mbps broadband service offers superfast speeds that are widely available across the UK. M500 broadband offers average speeds of 516 Mbps, and upload speeds average around 36 Mbps using a fibre connection.
500 Mbps broadband is suitable for most online activities at home. Whether it’s gaming, streaming, video conferencing, or simply browsing the web and checking emails, it can handle whatever you need to do. And perhaps best of all, it can deliver fast internet speeds to up to 20 devices at the same time.
Virgin Media’s Fibre broadband packages offer ultrafast speeds, such as Gigabit fibre broadband which is up to 22x faster than the UK’s average broadband speed, offering up to 1130 Mbps download speed.
What is a fast internet speed?
According to the Speedtest Global Index, the average internet speed around the world is 71 Mbps. As of 2022, Chile, Singapore, China, Thailand, and Hong Kong have some of the highest global internet speeds, ranging from around 186 Mbps to 217 Mbps. This represents these nations’ early investments in fibre broadband. In the UK, the average internet speed is roughly 68 Mbps. However, many providers can offer speeds that are much higher than this. The average speed does, of course, take into account the UK’s rural areas where connectivity is still a notable challenge.
A fast internet speed is, therefore, considered to be anything above average. In the UK, speeds of 500 Mbps to 1Gbps (1000 Mbps) are generally thought of as being excellent for most activities.
What’s the fastest internet speed ever?
The first truly headline-making internet speeds came in 2020, when engineers at University College London achieved a data transfer rate of 178 Terabits per second or 178,000,000 Mbps. To put this into perspective, you’d be able to download every film and TV show on Netflix in less than one second. These impressive speeds beat the previously held record for fast data transmission by one-fifth.
However, just a few months later, engineers in Japan reportedly shared a paper at the International Conference on Optical Fibre Communications reporting how they had used more than 1864 miles of fibre-optic cable to achieve a transmission rate of 319 Terabits per second or 319,000,000 Mbps.
Technology is continually evolving and advancing. While it’s certainly going to be a long time until you see these sorts of speeds at home, home broadband is definitely becoming faster and faster.
How to get faster internet
If your home broadband speed isn’t quite as quick as you need it to be, there are some things that you can do to help. The first is to check what package you’re currently on, take a look at the number of devices your household uses and determine whether or not your existing broadband package is right for you.
One option may be upgrading your existing package to one which has faster speeds, such as fibre broadband. By upgrading to superfast broadband speeds, your home broadband should deliver faster speeds so you can browse, game and stream online without slowing down. Find out how to decide which broadband speed you need.
The second way to get faster internet speeds is to change providers. You may find that your existing provider cannot offer significantly faster speeds than what you have now, or can’t offer these speeds at a price that suits your budget. In this case, it’s worth exploring options available from other vendors.
A final consideration is to upgrade your hardware. If you already have a speedy internet package, you could explore options such as switching your router to one that supports newer WiFi standards. While this wouldn’t affect the speed of the internet coming into your home, it could help to maintain these high speeds between your router and your devices.
Date Published: 1st December 2022
Article Updated: 31st January 2023
Article Updated: 31st January 2023