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What is a good download speed?

Good download speed – what is it and why does it matter?

Lets see what fibre broadband is available to you

By Andy Snellgrove | Date published: 20th October 2023 | 6 min read

Almost everything we do these days is online in one way or another, so having a speedy connection is essential.

But when so much of the broadband information out there is written in jargon that most of us don’t understand, figuring out how to get a good download speed can be easier said than done. So, what can you do?

Well, we’ve got you covered. In this blog we’ll cover your top questions, let you know what a good download speed is, and throw in some tips to help you make sure your connection can keep up.

So, with no further delay, let’s get started.

What is bandwidth?

Bandwidth is like a busy motorway.

The wider it is, the more cars can travel on it and the quicker everyone gets to their destination. It’s the same with broadband. The greater your bandwidth, the more data can travel, and the quicker it gets to, and from, its destination.

Ever noticed slowdown of your connection when someone in your home is gaming or downloading large files? It’s because these activities are like taking a big van on the motorway. They use more bandwidth, leaving less room for anything else to get through.

To make sure you’re making the most of the bandwidth you’ve got, it’s always worth closing programs and turning off devices that you’re not using to make sure you have the space in your connection for the stuff that matters.

How is broadband speed measured?

When describing broadband, we use two figures, a download speed and an upload speed. Both are measured in megabits per second.

There are 1000 megabits to every gigabit, and you’ll usually see the terms abbreviated to Mbps and Gbps. The higher the number, the faster your connection.

What is the difference between download speed and upload speed?

Download speed refers to how fast you receive information over the internet, while upload refers to how fast you send it.  

To put that into context, you’re uploading when saving a file to google drive, sending an email or putting videos on YouTube and you’re downloading when you stream TV shows, grab a new app for your phone and receive emails.

And when you’re video calling, because you’re sending your audio and video while also receiving audio and video from the person you’re talking to, you’re actually both downloading and uploading.

What is a good download speed?

What’ll make a good speed for you totally depends on your situation. There are two main factors to consider; how many people you have at home and what they’ll be doing online.

If you just want to stream TV and browse the web, you might be fine with a lower download speed, but if you stream HD TV or use your connection for video calls you’ll need speeds at the higher end of the spectrum.

And if you use virtual reality, stream TV in 4K, or are likely to have lots of people using your connection at once, you’ll need something even faster.

What specific broadband speed do I need?


If you just email and browse the web

And, it’s just you or one other person at home, the download speeds of 20-40Mbps offered by Standard broadband will probably do the trick. This broadband is also known as Asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL).


If you stream, video call and work from home 

And, there’s no more than four of you in your household, you’ll need download speeds of around 50-80Mbps. Try taking a look at Superfast broadband, also known as FTTC.


If you game, use virtual reality, stream 4K TV or have a large family

You’ll need a connection that can keep up, so look for Ultrafast Full Fibre broadband, also known as FTTP, which offers speeds of around 100-1000Mbps.

Curious about your current set up? To find out exactly what speeds you’re getting at the moment, simply Google “internet speed test”.

A person working from home using her computer on a desk

What can stop me getting a good download speed?

Your broadband speed is always the result of a number of factors.


Router position

If you’re using Wi-Fi, check where your router is. If it’s tucked behind large items, like a TV or fish tank its signal may struggle to reach you. Try giving it a meter of space all the way around and keeping it upright and off the floor to give it the best chance.


Time since a router reboot

Sometimes things can go wrong with your router’s memory and operating system, especially if it’s not been restarted in a while. So if you’re not getting a good download speed, it’s always worth trying that age old IT trick; turn it off and back on again.


Number of users

If you notice a sudden slowdown in your internet connection, check what other people in your home are doing. If someone is streaming a film in one room while others are gaming online upstairs, your network might be overloaded.


Checking your wires

Using old or damaged cables can really slow things down, so it's worth taking a look at them every now and then. Check for any signs of wear and tear, such as fraying or exposed wires. If you notice any issues, it may be time to replace them. Another tip for getting the best results is to use the cables that come with the equipment from your service provider. These cables are specifically designed to work seamlessly with your broadband setup, so they'll give you the most reliable and efficient connection. 


Type of broadband

Not all broadband is the same. The speeds you get, and how many people can use it at once, are largely decided by the kind of cables your particular type of broadband uses. In a nutshell, the more fibre optic cable, the faster your connection, and the more copper cable, the slower your connection. Try giving your service provider a call to check what your broadband is made of.

What is the difference between Standard / FTTC / FTTP?

Standard broadband was the first type of broadband to exist. Although it was ground-breaking in its day, it uses old fashioned copper phone lines that are vulnerable to damage. So over time, we have created better broadband that uses faster, weather resistant fibre optic cable instead.

Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) and Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) are different types of this new-style broadband and their names provide a clue about where the fibre optic cable is used in each connection.

FTTP, which is also known as Ultrafast broadband, uses fibre optic cable throughout, which is why it’s the fastest and the most reliable connection available.

To learn more about these terms and how they’re used, check out this handy guide.

Do I need to get Ultrafast Full Fibre for a good broadband speed?

As we said earlier, what you should consider a good broadband speed depends on your needs.

But with technology evolving at lightning speed and ever more of our lives being conducted online, demands on your broadband are only going to grow.

So, we recommend making sure you have a connection that is not just good enough for now but is also fit for the future. And for that, you’ll need Ultrafast Full Fibre broadband.

Can I get Ultrafast broadband where I live?

The type of broadband, and therefore the speed, that you can get does depend on where you live but we’re working hard across the country to make sure Ultrafast Full Fibre is available to as many people as possible.

See what’s available in your area using our postcode checker, and if we’ve not reached you quite yet, leave us your details so we can let you know when we’re on our way.

When should I upgrade my broadband?

If you’ve tried router reboots and repositioning but you’re still left blighted by buffering or cut off by cut outs, and part of your connection is copper, it might be time to think about upgrading to Ultrafast Full Fibre broadband.

When you can make the switch will depend on the contract you have at the moment, and which provider you choose.

But one thing’s for sure, Ultrafast Full Fibre broadband will get you lightning fast download speeds of up to 1000Mbps and a connection which won’t slow down no matter what others in your home are doing.

Head over to our handy fibre checker to see if its available in your area.

Written by Andy Snellgrove

Andy is the Openreach FTTP Product Manager and brings a wealth of experience in the broadband industry.With a strong background in launching FTTC, GFast, and most recently FTTP, he has collaborated with leading telecommunications companies to develop cutting-edge broadband capabilities.