How Much Bandwidth Do I Need to Cut the Cord?

This is a question that we are asked nearly every day.  And of course no one wants to hear, “Well, it depends.”  But the fact is, it really does depend on how an individual household uses its broadband.

Here is one example:  a retired couple occasionally Skypes or Facetimes with family members, especially their precious grandchildren.  They have found that reading bedtime stories to the preschoolers or checking in with the 13-year-old can be quite satisfying and help keep them all connected, even if they are many miles apart.  This couple only occasionally streams movies or documentaries, and never streams live TV.  In other words, they haven’t yet “cut the cord.”  And with only two household members, their bandwidth needs aren’t huge.  They will be quite satisfied with a lower-end service package.

At the opposite extreme is the family with three teenagers who are constantly streaming video content of one sort or another or video chatting with friends.  The parents usually watch a movie online in the evening to unwind.  And each person in the home probably has at least two devices, phone and laptop or tablet, that may be online simultaneously.  This home has completely cut the cord and requires lots of bandwidth, In fact, the more the better, up to a point.

Consumers also need to keep in mind their budgets.  If a 100Mbps connection is $70 and that fits within the budget, great!  But do you need 100Mbps?  Or 1000Mbps (1Gbps)?  Does the 12Mbps or 25Mbps package cover your needs?

Here is what industry experts are currently recommending for our two examples above: recommends 10Mbps download speed for the retired couple.  For the family of five with teenagers, the recommendation is 25Mbps and up, depending on which bandwidth calculator one uses.

And this is where things get even more complicated: not all ISPs provide the same quality of experience, even when the speeds are the same.  At SonicNet, we utilize a specific application that “shapes” internet traffic at each customer site, including down to the device level.  So, a 12Mbps connection at SonicNet actually operates like a 25+Mbps connection, thus making the customer’s quality of experience greater at a lower connection speed.

So for our customers, here is what we recommend:  for the retired couple, 5Mbps will likely work quite well.  For the family with many more devices and all TV and movie entertainment being online only, 25Mbps is ideal, but many families on our network operate at 12Mbps beautifully.

So back to the question originally posed:  how much bandwidth do I need?  Yes, the answer truly is, “it depends.”  And we’re happy to help prospective customers sort out their specific needs.

Up next:  Internet-only homes — in rural areas, this is the best possible solution to all communication and entertainment needs.

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Lori Collins