Bandwidth Wars! How much speed do I need for my home?


The marketing department loves to put their spin on just about every product and service for sale. This is also true as it pertains to Internet Bandwidth for your home. Technology companies and  computer hardware manufactures (as well as other manufactures) seem to think that we are all stupid sheep, and rather than educate us properly on what we really need they tend to force feed product in the hopes of increased profit.

Before I begin writing about how much Internet Bandwidth you need for your house, let me first show a few examples of how the marketing machine caused misleading advertising wars of the past.

Intel vs Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)

Way back in the 90s Intel wanted to increase market share and increase sales. The marketing department came up with a brilliant “Intel inside” campaign and began educating consumers on processor clock speed (MHZ & GHZ) They touted that a 90Mhz PC was better than the 60Mz and  AMD did the same. Both companies basically started an arms race to achieve the highest speed processor and consumers were led to believe faster is better. Here we are over 20 years later and we now know that clock speed is NOT a good representation of how fast a processor can perform. There are so many other factors that contribute to a FAST computer but I’m not going to cover that in this article. Marketing alone may have duped thousands into prematurely upgrading to a new computer.

Vacuum cleaner AMP ratings

This marketing campaign told consumers that the higher an AMP rating of a vacuum cleaners motor the better it would perform. We began seeing 5amp, 7amp and even 12amp models hit the market each touting better performance than its predecessor. Hello! Anyone that finished high school should realize what BS this is. An AMP is the amount of electricity a device consumes while operating, and yes a 12amp motor consumes more electricity than a 5amp motor. However, there is no direct coloration between AMPs and cleaning power.  I could have a very efficient 5amp motor and great vacuum design that can provide more suction than the most powerful 12amp unit. This is simply more marketing BS!

I have gigabit bandwidth speeds at home, I’m better than you!

Thank you for sitting through the two examples of marketing BS above, I just wanted to show how this was done before and will be done again. About a year ago, Verizon began marketing 1000Mbps (gigabit) bandwidth speeds for home users.  Not  soon after Comcast is now pushing 400Mb Internet speed, with the promise of gigabit speeds coming soon.All of these increased offerings come at an increased price. (Increased Profit!)

Just what is bandwidth and should I even care?

Bandwidth is simply a measure of speed. Going back to the old “tubes” analogy you can think of bandwidth as a water pipe entering into your house. The bigger the pipe the more water you can consume. However it is important to point out that this does not mean you will use the additional available water. If you have a 1″ pipe and 1/2″ garden hose, your garden hose will use the flow rate of 1/2″ worth of water. If you increase your pipe to 2″ and keep the same garden hose the flow will be the same as the 1″ pipe. Does this make sense?

I have an office of about 60 users that up until 3 months ago shared a 10Mbps internet connection without issue. I know they were all not using Netflix and watching streaming video, and most internet connected devices worked just fine. It wasn’t until the ISP began offering 100Mbps internet for the same price that we decided to upgrade.

How much bandwidth does streaming video take?


  • 1 Mbps – lowest quality
  • 2 Mbps – standard quality
  • 4 Mbps – high definition quality
  • 6 Mbps – highest quality!

Hulu Plus – 1Mbps – 4Mbps
Vudu – 1Mbps – 9Mbps

Streaming video is one of the most bandwidth intensive services we can use on our home network. In order to obtain the quality stream you want you need to take into account your max bandwidth.

Bandwidth is shared among all your connected devices.

This is where things get tricky, unless you live alone you are most likely sharing your internet connection with your spouse and children.  Lets do some quick calculations for a family of 4

Dad – Streaming Netflix at 4Mbps
Mom – Watching an on-demand channel on her tablet 3Mbps
Kid #1 – Watching you tube in HD 6Mbps
Kid #2 – Playing Grand Theft Auto 2Mbps
Kid#2 – Also on Skype HQ Video call .5Mbs


It this case purchasing a 50Mbps, 100Mbps or gigabit connection is not going to benefit your family one (mega)bit. If you signed up for the 25/25 tier with your provider you would have more than enough capacity without any slow downs.

When does a high speed connection make sense?

Do you download large files? A faster connection will result in a faster download providing the server your connected to can keep up. Do you have a very large family? As you can see from the example above its easy for 4 people to consume 15Mb, but what if you had a family of 8 and everyone had a tablet, phone and computer, maybe a faster connection would be helpful.


YES – As we begin enjoying more connected devices our need for bandwidth will increase. In some cases heavy home users may want big pipes to support a specific application, however in most cases of a family of 4 your throwing away good money for capacity you will never use. My last analogy is regular vs premium gas. If your car is designed to run on regular there is NO (ZERO) benefit to using premium. If your connected devices will use a max of 20Mbps at any given time there is no benefit to 100Mbps or gigabit service. Its just money out the door.

Final thought

If you are still renting a cable modem SEND IT BACK!!! You can buy one for under $100 and make your money back in the first year!





Related Reading – Cut the cord with HDHR

Thank you for reading my blog,


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