The internet is a complex place and with so many different broadband choices and deals out there, it's hard to know whether you're getting what you've paid for. Here we explain what good upload and download speeds are.

Before we explain whether you're speeds are what they should be, you need to find out what they are. This requires running a benchmark speed test. You can do this easily by going to speedtest.net and clicking 'Begin Test'.

Be sure to test your connection more than once and at different times of day before going to the bother of contacting your provider. Find out more about testing your broadband speed and connection.

If there are things you don't understand, skip to our broadband speed jargon buster at the end. Also find the best broadband deals right now and how to get broadband without a landline.

What are good upload and download speeds?

There are multiple ways of looking at this. Firstly you should check whether you are getting the speeds advertised by your broadband provider or ISP (internet service provider).

For example, if you're broadband package is supposed to give you a download speed of 100Mbps then you would be understandably upset if you're getting a speed of 10Mbps.

Remember that the advertised speed is the peak speed so you possibly won't ever reach that figure. However, you should expect to get a decent amount of it most of the time – IPSs may throttle speeds at busy times to ensure customers get a stable connection.

When you run a speed test on the site we linked to above, the results will include a grade so you can get a good idea of whether your speeds are good or not that way. For example, if you get 70 percent then only 30 percent of connections are better than yours.

Broadband speed test

What internet speeds do I need for Netflix, Skype and gaming?

The other way of looking at whether you have good upload and download speeds is whether they are good enough to do various tasks. Let's take a look at the recommended speed you need for things like streaming video and online gaming without buffering or lag. You can compare these with the results of your speed test.

Internet speed for Netflix

  • 0.5Mbps - Required speed
  • 1.5Mbps - Recommended speed
  • 3.0Mbps - SD quality
  • 5.0Mbps - HD quality
  • 25Mbps - Ultra HD 4K quality

Internet speed for Skype (download/upload)

  • 100kbps / 100kbps – Calling
  • 300kbps / 300kbps – Video calling
  • 500kbps / 500kbps – High quality video calling
  • 1.5Mbps / 1.5Mbps – HD quality video calling
  • 2Mbps / 512kbps – Group video calling (up to 3 people)

Internet speed for YouTube

  • 1+Mbps – Recommended

Internet speed for online gaming

What you're looking for when it comes to gaming is a low ping. Generally you want the ping to be lower than 100ms but ideally under 50ms if possible.

Jargon buster

Download speed

This is how fast your connection can receive data from a server (ie the internet). A bit like the digital equivalent of your postman arriving with letters. It's typically measured in Mbps (Megabits per second) unless you have a slow speed.

Upload speed

This is the opposite of a download speed and is how fast your connection can send data to the internet. It's also measured in Mbps unless you have a slow speed.

Ping

This is effectively a digital reaction time; it's the time it takes for you to get a response after making a request and is normally measured in milliseconds.