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Is 3 Mbps Fast?

by stacy

The great-old saying ‘’much less is extra’’ could be utilized to many issues, however to not web speeds. In the case of web speeds, all of us want extra. At all times. However, sadly, we are able to’t all have extra. Some folks need to accept much less. Hundreds of thousands of individuals all around the US wrestle with low web speeds, a lot decrease than the FCC-defined min broadband speeds.

In the present day, we’re right here to debate how briskly 3 Mbps actually is, and what you are able to do with that type of velocity. We are going to analyze all of the on a regular basis web actions from informal looking to 4K streaming to search out the reply to the query from the title. What do you suppose our reply can be?

Web Pace Fundamentals

Earlier than we dive deeper into the topic, we’ve got to cowl some fundamentals. You could suppose you already know this stuff, however chances are you’ll find yourself stunned. You hear a bunch of internet-related phrases daily – web velocity, web bandwidth, Mbps, MBps, obtain/add velocity, DSL, cable/coax, fiber, satellite tv for pc, and so on., however do you actually know what every of those phrases means?

Bandwidth VS Pace VS Throughput

The phrases bandwidth and web velocity are sometimes used interchangeably. When folks say they’re paying for, let’s say 100/10 Mbps, they suppose they discuss web speeds, however they’re truly speaking about web bandwidth. These two issues are related, however not the identical.

Web velocity VS Web Bandwidth

Bandwidth is the max knowledge switch price that may be dealt with by a medium. In layman’s phrases, it’s the max capability of your web connection. Web velocity tells you how briskly the information is transferred. So, bandwidth is quite the measure of capability than the measure of velocity – it tells us how a lot knowledge could be transferred and never how briskly the information is transferred.

In some instances, if the bandwidth is larger, the velocity of knowledge switch will even be larger (the information switch can be quicker), however that’s not at all times the case as a result of there are different components that have an effect on the velocity.

Throughput is one other time period intently associated to bandwidth. Whereas the bandwidth tells us the max theoretical capability of our web connection, throughput tells us the precise capability of our web connection at a given time. 

Excessive bandwidth alone shouldn’t be a assure of high-speed web and nice community efficiency. If the throughput is low for any purpose (due to excessive latency, interference, jitter, packet loss), your community efficiency received’t be nice, even when the bandwidth is greater than satisfying.

The time period web velocity refers extra to the response time of your web connection than to capability, nevertheless it’s not an enormous deal in case you’re utilizing phrases velocity and bandwidth interchangeably. In spite of everything, web suppliers do this on a regular basis. All of us do this. We simply wished to let you know that there’s a distinction.

Unit of Measurement

Each bandwidth and throughput are measured in Mbps (Megabits per second) or Gbps. In uncommon instances, in case you’re actually unfortunate, it’s measured in kbps. When an web plan is marketed as let’s say 500/50, the items we’re speaking about are Megabits per second. 

One factor that will trigger some confusion is the distinction between Mbps and MBps (or MB/sec). Whenever you’re downloading a file, and also you take a look at the obtain speeds, chances are you’ll discover that the numbers don’t actually match your plan. That’s as a result of our browsers (Chrome, Mozilla) present obtain velocity in MB/sec (Megabytes per second), not Megabits per second.

Megabytes per second

Megabyte per second is 8x better than Megabit per second. 

Broadband Web Connection Varieties

You’ve six kinds of web connection which can be at present in use – DSL, cable web, fiber, satellite tv for pc web, mounted wi-fi web, and BPL (Broadband over Powerlines). We even have cell web (4G, 5G), however we’re not going to debate cell web on this article. Of those six, the primary three are, by far, the preferred. Wi-fi web can also be used, however largely in rural areas. 

In massive cities and concrete areas basically, cable and fiber are the most typical connection varieties. In rural areas, folks usually have to decide on between DSL and stuck wi-fi web. Satellite tv for pc web can also be out there throughout the complete US (or 99% of the US). 

Each web connection kind has its good and dangerous sides, however I feel we are able to say that cable and fiber are the 2 most fascinating connection varieties as a result of they supply the best speeds and most dependable connection. 

Obtain/Add Speeds

All of the above-mentioned web connection varieties provide completely different max obtain and add speeds. Beneath, you possibly can see the max obtain and add speeds offered by web suppliers within the US. 

Download/Upload Speeds

These usually are not the max theoretical speeds that may be achieved on these connection varieties – these are simply the best speeds supplied by the American suppliers. That also doesn’t imply that each DSL or mounted wi-fi, or satellite tv for pc web consumer can select the best plan. Relying on the infrastructure, chances are you’ll get a lot decrease max speeds (as much as 50/10 with DSL, or 25/3 with satellite tv for pc). The slowest out there DSL plan in some areas could possibly be 3/1 Mbps.

Web Costs

There’s a big disproportion on the subject of the costs of web plans in rural and concrete areas. Usually talking, an individual dwelling in a rural space should pay the identical month-to-month charge as somebody dwelling in an enormous metropolis however will get a lot decrease speeds. 

Take AT&T for instance. An individual subscribed to DSL Web 50 (50 Mbps per second obtain) should pay $45/month (promo worth). AT&T Fiber plans are far more inexpensive than that. For a similar promo worth of $45/month, you may get Web 500 (500 Mbps obtain + 500 Mbps add). So, folks dwelling in rural areas pay far more per Mbps than folks dwelling in cities and suburban areas with higher infrastructure. 

Common Family Broadband Speeds within the US

The min web velocity that may be thought of broadband web is 25 Mbps obtain and three Mbps add. That is the definition given by the FCC in 2015, and it’s nonetheless in impact despite the fact that many reports and studies are arguing that the min benchmark speeds needs to be elevated to 100/25. 

25/3 Mbps is, fortunately, not the typical broadband web velocity within the US. The common obtain velocity in 2021, in accordance with highspeedinternet is near 100 Mbps. In response to speedtest.net, the typical velocity is even larger. The common speeds have elevated considerably over the previous two pandemic years. Based mostly on Statista research from 2017, the typical velocity in 2017 was solely 19 Mbps. 

In some states, the typical speeds go effectively over 100 Mbps, however there are additionally states the place the typical speeds are considerably decrease (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska, New Mexico, and so on.). Nonetheless, all these states, have common speeds that meet the FCC standards for broadband web (25/3 Mbps). However that doesn’t imply that each citizen within the US has entry to broadband web. In response to the FCC report revealed in 2017, 21.3 million folks didn’t have entry to broadband web. In response to broadbandnow, the quantity is way larger – approx. 42 million. Microsoft report from 2019 reveals that just about half of the US residents don’t use the web at broadband speeds.

Microsoft AirBand Analysis

Supply – Microsoft AirBand Analysis

This report was revealed two years in the past. The scenario has modified since then, however we’re fairly certain that we nonetheless have hundreds of thousands, in all probability tens of hundreds of thousands that use the web at speeds a lot decrease than 25/3 Mbps. 

A sure proportion of individuals within the US can’t get something higher than 3 Mbps obtain and 1 Mbps (and even decrease) add. So, what are you able to do with 3 Mbps? Are you able to stream films in HD? Are you able to stream music? How about gaming and Fb reside streams? Let’s see what are the really useful speeds for various on-line actions.

Required Web Speeds for Completely different On-line Actions

You possibly can seek the advice of varied sources to get an concept of what you are able to do with 3 Mbps. Let’s begin with the FCC tips. You possibly can see the min speeds for varied actions really useful by the FCC within the picture beneath. These speeds apply to just one gadget. To do the identical exercise on a number of gadgets, it’s important to multiply the really useful velocity with the variety of gadgets.

Min Broadband speeds for various online activities

Min Broadband speeds for varied on-line actions (supply – FCC)

So, primarily based on these tips 3 Mbps is sweet sufficient for basic looking and emails (1 Mbps), for streaming radio (.5 Mbps), VoIP calls (.5 Mbps), social media (1 Mbps), HD video calls (1.5 Mbps), streaming video in SD, and perhaps for some kinds of gaming. 

The min really useful obtain/add speeds can be discovered on each platform that you just need to use, whether or not it’s YouTube, Netflix, Fb, Spotify, or the rest.  So, let’s see what these platforms need to say. 

Minimal Required Speeds – Music Streaming

Completely different streaming platforms have completely different minimal velocity suggestions and provide their content material in several qualities. 3 Mbps per second is sweet sufficient for hottest music streaming platforms – it meets all of the really useful minimums. Nonetheless, you received’t be capable of stream audio in Hello-Res from TIDAL, Apple Music, or Amazon Music. 

Required Speeds for Music Streaming
Minimal Required Speeds – Video Streaming

Video streaming platforms are far more demanding than music streaming platforms. Let’s begin with the preferred – YouTube and Netflix.

Minimum Required Speeds for Video Streaming

In response to really useful YouTube speeds, you possibly can watch movies in 720p HD (2.5 Mbps), however provided that you’re not doing the rest. Should you’re doing one thing else in addition to watching a YouTube video, you’ll undoubtedly expertise some buffering. 


In response to NETFLIX, 3 Mbps is a naked minimal for streaming in SD high quality (as much as 480p). You possibly can’t stream films in HD with out buffering. 


On Hulu, you possibly can, theoretically, watch movies in HD (720p) with 3 Mbps, however provided that your web connection is completely steady. In apply, there’ll undoubtedly be some buffering. 

Amazon Prime Video

3 Mbps meets the minimal required speeds for SD video streaming on Amazon Prime Video. You received’t be capable of stream movies in HD with out buffering. 

Apple TV+
HBO, Disney+, and Apple TV+ don’t provide content material in SD, and their minimal required velocity for HD streaming is 5 Mbps. So, 3 Mbps won’t be sufficient.

Minimal Required Speeds – Dwell Streams

Dwell streaming (Fb, YouTube, Twitch) can also be not an choice. The min add speeds for these actions fluctuate from 1 to 51 Mbps. In case your obtain velocity is 3 Mbps, then your add velocity will in all probability be decrease than 1 Mbps. Even watching reside streams in HD can be tough with 3 Mbps. 

Minimum Required Speeds for Live Streams

Minimal Required Speeds – Gaming

3 Mbps is only a naked minimal for on-line gaming – that is the minimal required velocity for gaming consoles like Xbox One and PS4. The minimal velocity for on-line multiplayer gaming, as really useful by the FCC, is 4 Mbps. Nonetheless, you possibly can play on-line multiplayer video games with 3 Mbps with minimal lag, however provided that your web connection is steady.

Web connection stability is perhaps much more necessary (or at the least equally necessary) because the web velocity. Once we say stability, we’re referring to traits like ping (latency), packet loss, and jitter. 

Latency tells us how lengthy it takes in your gadget (PC, laptop computer, telephone) to speak with a sure server. The latency is measured in ms. We’d like this quantity to be as little as potential. Something beneath 50ms could be thought of respectable. Beneath 30ms or 20ms is fascinating. Naturally, the latency is dependent upon the gaming server you select – if the server is way away from you, the latency can be larger. If the server is nearer, the latency can be decrease. Take into consideration this when selecting the gaming server. 

Packet loss could be very dangerous for gaming. Our gadgets talk with servers by sending bundles of packets backwards and forwards. These packets can get misplaced within the course of, particularly when there’s an excessive amount of knowledge that can’t be dealt with in a brief time frame.

Jitter is principally the change in latency over time. If the latency fluctuations are too excessive (for instance – from 10ms to 200ms, then again to 20ms, then as much as 150ms), the information packets will arrive on the vacation spot (server) out of order, and that may trigger every kind of glitches and stuttering. 

So, taking part in on-line video games with 3 Mbps per second is theoretically potential however provided that all the opposite parameters are good (latency, jitter, packet loss). It goes with out saying that you just’re supposed to make use of wired connection for gaming and that you just shouldn’t be downloading something. Wi-Fi shouldn’t be good for gaming as a result of the speeds are much less constant and the latency is larger. 

On-line Gaming with 3 Mbps

So, Is 3 Mbps Quick?

Sorry to disappoint you, however we’ve got to say no. We’re conscious that this can be the best out there velocity in your space, however we are able to’t misinform you. 

3 Mbps is sweet sufficient for some on a regular basis web actions, on-line radio, music streaming, and perhaps video watching, however not in HD. 

It could possibly be ok for gaming, however provided that all the opposite parameters of your web connection are satisfying.

3 Mbps shouldn’t be ok for HD video streaming, not to mention 4K streaming. 

Beneath, you possibly can see the estimated obtain occasions for varied kinds of media information (pictures, Phrase paperwork, mp3 songs, film information) if the obtain velocity is 3 Mbps. 

Estimated download times for various types of media files


Q: Is 3 Mbps quick sufficient for video streaming?

A: For many streaming platforms, 3 Mbps shouldn’t be sufficient. With 3 Mbps, you possibly can stream movies on YouTube in 720p, stream Netflix content material in SD, HULU movies in 720p, or Amazon Prime Video content material in SD. Different platforms (HBO, Apple TV+, Disney+) don’t help SD and 720p content material (solely full HD or 4K), and the naked minimal for these platforms is 5 Mbps. 

Q: Is 3 Mbps quick sufficient for music streaming?

A: Sure, 3 Mbps is sweet sufficient for many music streaming platforms (Spotify, Deezer, YouTube Music, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and so on.). You could not be capable of stream within the highest potential high quality, however you need to use virtually any music streaming platform, and it ought to work simply fantastic. The identical goes for on-line radio.

Q: Is 3 Mbps quick sufficient for on-line gaming?

A: In the case of gaming, the reply shouldn’t be so easy. The perfect we may give you is – 3 Mbps is perhaps ok. 3 Mbps meets the min really useful velocity for gaming consoles and is barely beneath FCC’s suggestions for multiplayer on-line gaming. Nonetheless, 3 Mbps could possibly be quick sufficient for many video games, however solely when mixed with low latency, minimal packet loss (lower than 1%), and really low jitter. If these situations usually are not met, you’ll undoubtedly expertise some lag and stuttering. It’s undoubtedly really useful to have larger speeds for gaming. 

Q: How lengthy does it take to obtain a file if my velocity is 3 Mbps?

A: It is dependent upon the file measurement. It takes lower than 5min to obtain 100 MB. A 500 MB MP4 file can be downloaded in lower than 24 minutes. It takes 47min 43sec to obtain a 1 GB file. So, it’s not that quick, nevertheless it’s higher than nothing. 

Q: Is 3 Mbps good for on-line lessons?

A: It is dependent upon the kind of on-line class. Should you’re simply going to take heed to your lecturer and if the category doesn’t embrace fixed interplay (display sharing, edit paperwork, use of interactive whiteboards, and so on.), then 3 Mbps is perhaps sufficient. For all the opposite situations, your obtain and add speeds needs to be considerably larger. We suggest a minimal add of three Mbps. 

Should you’re a lecturer and you are attempting to work with a couple of scholar directly, you undoubtedly want greater than 3 Mbps.

Q: Is 3 Mbps quicker than 4G?

A: With 4G, you possibly can attain speeds as much as 150/50 Mbps (4G LTE) and even as much as 300/150 Mbps (4G LTE-Superior). So, 4G is considerably quicker than 3 Mbps.

Q: Is 3 Mbps quick sufficient for Zoom 

A: We are going to assume that your obtain velocity is 3 Mbps and that your add velocity is beneath 1 Mbps. In response to Zoom support, 3 Mbps is sweet sufficient for high-quality 1-on-1 video calls (the minimal really useful speeds are 600/600 kbps). 

720p and 1080p 1-on-1 video calls require larger obtain/add speeds (1.2/1.2 Mbps and three.8/3.0 Mbps). 

In the case of group calls, the necessities are even larger, however you possibly can nonetheless make group calls in top quality (1 Mbps down, 600 kbps up). Group calls in 720p and 1080p require extra bandwidth (2.6/1.8 Mbps and three.8/3.0 Mbps). 

Q: What can I do to get essentially the most out of my 3 Mbps web plan?

A: To start with, use wired connection. It’s merely far more dependable than Wi-Fi. Utilizing Wi-Fi shouldn’t be an issue when your speeds are a lot larger, however it may be an issue while you solely have 3 Mbps. You can additionally attempt utilizing an advert blocker plugin and clear your cache repeatedly (or set up a plugin that does that for you).

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