In 2015 the FCC defined broadband internet as having at least 25 Mbps of download speed and at least 3 Mbps for upload speed. Those standards hold today and accommodate the addition of super-fast technologies like wireless cellular and fiber optic. Large swaths of the U.S. do not have infrastructure to support 5G (5th Generation) wireless cellular and broadband internet, or, 1-10 Gig wired fiber optic internet. Even so, minimum broadband speed can support most of what the average user does online. But if you want to stream movies in 4k and game on multiple devices at once you will need more speed.

Very fast internet is considered to be download speeds ranging from 50 to 200 Mbps and upload speeds of 5 Mbps or higher. Many households with typical coaxial cable internet speeds of 50 Mbps download and 5-6 Mbps of upload don’t feel a crunch or have latency issues for normal activities including HD streaming. Millions of Americans don’t have access to broadband internet. About one in five households in the U.S. don’t have home internet service at all while others manage speeds below broadband. Basic service of 3-8 Mbps will accommodate one light user. Medium Service of 12-25 Mbps can adequately support up to three people doing essential tasks plus light streaming. Connection types that offer slower speeds typically include certain satellite internet plans in the most rural and remote areas, and DSL service.

You can test your Simply Bits speed here Internet Speed Test to check your current download and upload speeds. You can use your cell phone, laptop, or other device.

If your Simply Bits speed test shows room for improvement, meaning you want to tweak your setup to get the bests speeds possible, there are a few steps you can take.

Connect your non-mobile main device, like your laptop, directly to your modem/router using a Local area network (LAN) Ethernet cable. This saves your signal having to travel across wireless frequencies.

You can also declutter your Wi-Fi signal by logging into your Wi-Fi dashboard or mobile app and checking for the number of devices in your home currently online. Cell phones, laptops, tablets, video doorbells, cameras, certain music speakers, smart TVs, voice-activated assistants, your smart watch… the list goes on. The average U.S. home has between 16-22 connected devices so when you take the non-essentials offline for a while you can get a speed boost. Take the Simply Bits internet speed test again and note the difference.

Using a VPN can slow you down but if it’s a requirement for your job or if you’re using an online security tool that runs through a VPN then those considerations take priority.

Most routers are set to accept security updates in the background but if you manually disabled these updates you will want to go back into the settings and enable firmware updates. These can improve speed.

Finally, you can disable background data consumption that occurs when an app isn’t actively being used. This not only uses up your monthly data allocation if your plan has one but it also slows down your Wi-Fi because it basically keeps apps working around the clock. It applies to both your cell phone and your connected devices. Apps check in the background to refresh notifications and sync with other apps. The apps using the most background data are the very ones we use most: social media, streaming, maps, games and even browsers. You will need to go into the settings for your browser and each major app to tweak background data use. You’ll find good resources on how to do this on YouTube. On a related topic, it’s good practice to just say No when you download a new app and it immediately asks for permission to track you across other apps you use. It will reduce background data use and give you more control about the data you share.

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