How are broadband speeds measured?

Broadband speeds are measured in 'megabits per second', often shortened to Mb Mbits p/s or Mbps. Bits are tiny units of data, with a megabit representing a million of them.
The higher the number of Mbps (megabits per second) you have, the speedier your online activity should be. A high number should mean that downloads complete more quickly, webpages load faster, streaming of music or videos begins more rapidly and any video calls or online games played should display smoothly.

How fast is 'superfast'?

We define superfast broadband as being 24Mbps or more.

How fast is your internet connection now?

Do a speed test

You can perform a quick speed check at Speedtest by Ookla - The Global Broadband Speed Test.

Or, search "broadband speed test" and follow the instructions.

Getting the most accurate results:

  1. connect with wires - For the most accurate results, your computer should be connected to your router using an Ethernet cable
  2. disconnect other wireless devices - Make sure no other devices or people use the broadband connection during the speed test
  3. for the best results, close all other programs and internet browsers running on your computer and stop any active downloads

Great, but what does that actually mean?

The table below gives a rough idea of how your connection speed will affect the time it takes to do tasks online:

Internet connection speed Time to load a typical web page Time to download a typical 5 minute song Streaming video quality
56k dial-up modem 14 seconds 12 mins 30 secs Low quality
256k broadband 3 seconds 3 mins
512k broadband 1.6 seconds 1 min 30 secs
1Mbps broadband 0.8 seconds 41secs
2Mbps broadband 0.4 seconds 20 secs Medium quality
4Mbps broadband 0.1 seconds 5 secs
6Mbps broadband Instant 3.5 secs
8Mbps broadband Instant 2.5 secs TV quality
12Mbps broadband Instant 1 sec
24Mbps broadband Instant Instant Superfast
50Mbps broadband Instant Instant
100Mbps broadband Instant Instant
+100Mbps broadband Instant Instant Ultrafast

If you want to complete more than one of these tasks at once, then you will need to add up how many Mbps it will take.

What speed will my household need?

17 Mbps - Ideal for browsing and downloading

  • great for small households
  • good for multiple devices online
  • 30 mins to download an HD movie
  • good to stream online TV

38 Mbps - Great for multi user downloading & streaming

  • ideal for families with many devices
  • better for multiple devices online
  • 15 min to download an HD movie
  • better to stream online TV

76 Mbps - Best for multi-user downloading & streaming

  • ideal for speed freak families with many devices
  • best for multiple devices online
  • 8 min to download an HD movie
  • the best to stream online TV

What can I do to improve my broadband speeds?

There are several practical things you can do to improve your broadband speed. See:

Ofcom - Improving your broadband speed - How to make your broadband faster

How do I get fibre broadband?

Remember, if fibre broadband is available in your area speeds will not improve automatically. You will need to talk to your choice of internet service provider (ISP) and ask about taking out a fibre broadband contract.