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Broadband Speeds

A discussion of broadband services starts with the rate or speed of data transmission. That includes download speed (from the Internet to your computer) and upload speed (from your computer to the Internet). The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s National Broadband Map currently defines broadband as speeds that move data at a rate of 3 Megabits per second (mbps) downstream and 768 Kilobits per second (Kbps) upstream.

Broadband is better understood in terms of which computer applications can be used at various speeds. The following tables show speeds needed for typical applications and the time needed to download different file sizes over various connection speeds.

 

Speed and Uses of Broadband Connections

Download Speed

Type of Connection

Typical Application

 

 

768k – <1.5M

  • DSL
  • Cable
  • Fiber
  • Satellite
  • Cellular
  • Fixed Wireless 
  • Basic Email
  • Low Resolution Videos
  • Basic Browsing 
  • VoIP

 

 

1.5M – <3M

  • DSL
  • Cable
  • Fiber
  • Satellite
  • Cellular
  • Fixed Wireless 
  • Email
  • Standard Definition Video
  • Streaming Music
  • Remote Surveillance
  • Most Web Apps 

 

3M – <6M 

  • DSL
  • Cable
  • Fiber
  • Cellular
  • Fixed Wireless 
  • Small File Sharing
  • Internet Protocol Television
  • Some online gaming

6M – <10M

  • DSL
  • Cable
  • Fiber
  • File Sharing
  • Online gaming
  • Video on demand

10M – <25M

  • Cable
  • Fiber
  • Telemedicine
  • Remote Education
  • HD IPTV

25M – <50M

  • Cable
  • Fiber
  • HD Video Surveillance

>=100M 

  • Fiber 
  • Real-time Data Collection
  • Real-time Medical Image Consulting 

Speed Comparison Reference Table

Approximate time it takes to perform specific downloads at various speeds

  Digital Photo Audio Track 30 Min TV Show HD Movie
Speed 2 MB file 4 MB file 240 MB file 1.5 GB file
< 200K 2 min 4 min 6:15 hr 39 hr
= 200K to < 768K 46 sec 1:33 min 2:20 hr 10 hr
= 768K to <1.5M 23 sec 46 sec 47 min 5 hr
= 1.5M to < 3M 11 sec 23 sec 27 min 2:30 hr
= 3M to < 6M 6 sec 15 sec 13 min 1:45 hr
= 6M to< 10M 2 sec 4 sec 5 min 1 hr
= 10M to < 25M 0.67 sec 1 sec 3 min 30 min
= 25M to < 50M 0.67 sec 1 sec 1:10 min 7 min
= 50M to < 100M 0.67 sec 0.67 sec 42 sec 4 min
= 100M to < 1G 0.67 sec 0.67 sec 4 sec 1 min
= 1G 0.67 sec 0.67 sec 2 sec 20 sec