How much internet speed do you really need at home?
In the last couple of years operators in the UAE increased internet speeds by a factor of 100. We moved from speeds of 2 Mbps to 250Mbps with new packages getting us whopping 800Mbps or 1Gbps in some areas.
This raises the question – how much speed do I really need? Which package do I choose? Should I get 500Mbps because this is a not the lowest package? Is the lowest home internet package going to be enough?
We prepared a quick ‘rule of thumb’ guide for you to solve this without complex formulas and massive effort:
You will need:
1. A cup of your favourite tea or coffee
2. A piece of paper
3. A pencil
Now sit back and relax.
Enjoy the coffee (or tea).
Count the number of members of your household.
Multiply by 25Mbps.
Write down the number on the piece of paper with the pencil and select the package closest to the number here.
In 90% of cases this is the download speed that you need in the house with a safe margin. For the remaining 10% that need full explanation on how we got there:
When dimensioning your internet connection for home you should plan for peak utilisation i.e. how many data heavy devices will use your internet connection at the same time.
We took the most bandwidth intensive application that is time critical – 4K video streaming that depending on codec utilise between 15 and 32Mbps. Netflix recommends 25 Mbps
for 4K streaming today. So if you have four 4 of household watching Neftlix at the same time on 4 separate 4K screens they will use around 100 Mbps. Keep in mind, that UAE operators typically provision slightly higher bandwidth than what you bought, so there is also some extra juice there.
There are other devices that use your bandwidth, but they are not time sensitive like cloud updates, software updates and typically scheduled for night when you are asleep:
1. Software updates – phones, computers – updates happen typically in the night, so while they use a lot of data they normally don’t affect your peak bandwidth requirement unless you force them to.
2. Your IOT devices – solar panels, smart home devices, smart bulbs – they DO use some data, but in the context of streaming bandwidth this is not material to consider.
3. Cloud storage utilises bandwidth, but again in most cases this happens in the background and will only be bandwidth heavy when you move from one phone to another using cloud backup – not affecting your everyday use.
There is one more exception to the rule – when you are uploading lots of data on consistent basis. Then probably instead of looking at your download speed you should look at upload speed instead of download and get as fast as you can within your budget.
What about gaming?
In gaming key parameters are latency (measured as ping) and jitter not speed. If you want to make your teenagers playing first person shooters at home happy – get fibre to the home and a good in-house wifi network or just let them hook up directly to the device provided by operator with LAN cable.
What about videoconferencing?
HD quality Zoom Videoconferencing takes about 3 – 4Mbps upload and the same download speed. With UAE ratios of upload to download the 25Mbps download / person addresses that with safe margin.
I have 500Mbps and my internet is still slow! Help!
The usual suspect will be your home infrastructure. With the amount of steel and concrete inside houses and apartments in the UAE it is super difficult to serve more than 800 sqft with one router. The best and most stable solution is setting up a ‘mesh network’ of routers across key points in the house. A cheaper (and less effective) solution would be to start with 1 – 2 range extenders. We will have a separate article going through WiFi setup at home addressing this soon!
I heard that operators ‘overbook’ the speeds and don’t have enough bandwidth to cater to everyone at the same time? Would that be a good enough reason to get a faster connection, so that I get a bigger ‘share of a pie’?
That is all true and if you belong to the 10% that got that far in the text then probably you should not follow and 25Mbps / person rule of thumb. The argument to still do it is that most of decent operators in the world are caching significant chunk of bandwidth heavy internet locally (typically starting with Youtube and Netflix), so for most of the typical high bandwidth use cases traffic is taken care of locally not using international connectivity. Both Etisalat
are far above ‘decent operator’ mark when it comes to tech they use.
All plans from Etisalat and du you will find in Aladdin’s Bazaar.
We will help you get it installed by their authorised resellers and once activated you will receive a free Google Mini Speaker for a good start!