How Much Internet Speed Do I Need?

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How Much Internet Speed (Mbps) Do I Need?

Megabits per second (Mbps) can be confusing. It’s a common measurement of internet “speed” but what does it really mean? To answer that, let’s first get some definitions out of the way. The terms “bandwidth” and “speed” are often used interchangeably, but they do have small differences. It only becomes more difficult to understand given they are both measured in Megabits per second.

To help demonstrate the difference, we’ll use an old plumbing metaphor. The internet travels to your home like water through a pipe. Bandwidth is the width of that pipe which dictates the amount of water (data) that can flow through at one time. Speed, or “throughput,” is the amount of data that is being pulled on that network at a given moment, like a sink faucet. One faucet isn’t likely to use all the water available to the house and you can typically turn on several faucets without an issue. However, if you have a big, old house with old plumbing and a lot of bathrooms and everyone gets up to take a shower in the morning, you are likely going to see a reduction in pressure (slow downloads) and have some grumpy guests.

Hopefully that helps explain what Mbps are, but how many do you really need? That all depends…As a rule of thumb, it is assumed that every 5 Mbps of speed translates into the ability to stream a high definition (HD) video on one device. So, if you have a 15 Mbps plan, it generally means you can stream 3 HD videos at once. However, every streaming service optimizes their video stream a little differently which creates a lot of exceptions to the “rule.” Additionally, some internet providers, like Safelink, host servers for Netflix on their network so you don’t actually leave your area network to stream videos. This makes your connection much faster than it would appear on other services that pull from the World Wide Web because you are not competing with as much traffic.

Side Note:
When evaluating your service, another thing you should watch for is the speed that is actually being delivered. Many providers quote “up to” speeds which really means you might be able to see that speed at 3:00 AM but will likely get a fraction of that in the evenings when your neighbors are online as well. This practice makes it very difficult to compare Provider A who offers speeds up to 50 Mbps but only delivers 5 Mbps and Provider B who offers 15 Mbps and delivers those speeds.

Hint: Safelink is Provider B and actually guarantees our speeds

So now you have a basic understanding of speed but how does that really translate to the various streaming service providers? To help break that down, here is a list of the current Safelink wireless internet plans along with how you can expect different streaming service to perform.

Streaming Plan

The Streaming plan is a 10 Mbps plan that can confidently stream 2 high definition (HD) videos from Netflix, Philo, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. You can also stream a single HD video from Playstation Vue, Sling TV, Hulu Live, and Youtube Live.


Family Plan

The Family plan is 15 Mbps. You can confidently steam 3 simultaneous HD videos from Philo, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime; get 2 steams from PlayStation Vue; or 1 HD stream from AT&T TV Now (formerly DirecTV Now). With YouTube Live you can reliably stream an HD video and have bandwidth left over for other devices using the same connection. At 15 Mbps you can also enjoy 4K video steam from Amazon Prime.

Tech Plan

The Tech plan is 20 Mbps. You can simultaneously stream 4 HD videos of Philo, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. PlayStation Vue is available on 3 separate screens or you can confidently stream a single HD stream of fuboTV.

Power Plan

The Power plan is 25 Mbps. This is the plan you want if you really want to enjoy the 4k resolution offered by other streaming providers, like Netflix. You are also able to simultaneously stream 5 HD videos of Philo, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. PlayStation Vue is also available on 4 separate screens and Sling TV can stream to 2 devices.

Safelink is dedicated to making internet easy, which is why all our plans include unlimited data, price lock for life, and Guardian parental controls that allows you to set schedules, filter content, view browser history, and even pause the internet.

Hopefully, this helped clear up some of the pressing questions you had about speed. If you have more questions about how streaming works, or need a larger, custom plan, we are always here to help. Shoot us a message at or give us a call at 208-932-4000. 

Discovering the difference of Safelink Internet and enjoy your streaming experience today!

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