download speed

Download Speed – Everything you need to know


Internet usage and data download are the two most important activities that have swiftly made their way into our everyday lives. For entertainment purposes, socialization, or to gather information, the internet is one whole-sole library. According to Datareportal’s Report, approximately 66.11 million internet users were there, which resonates with 97.8 percent of internet penetration in the country.

With 87.66 million active mobile connections and approximately 57.10 million social media users in January 2023, the growth and popularity of internet usage are escalating at a rapid rate. Despite all this, download speed is one of the biggest factors, which has proved to be a game changer! Not only does it elevate a user’s experience but also keeps them hooked for hours!

Everyone wants to know about good internet speed, however, not many pay attention to the factors that result in good internet speed. These include different activities that are done online, such as video calling, streaming an HD-quality movie, or online gaming.

A regular video call would work just fine at a speed of 0.5-1.5 Mbps, however, if you are streaming a 4K video, a minimum of 25 Mbps is required for a great experience. Also, download speed makes more difference to your internet usage as compared to an upload speed as you have more options to download as compared to uploading a picture, file, or any other media.

 So, What Exactly is a Download Speed?

You often hear terms like 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G, but have you ever delved deep to find out how these mobile network technologies transformed the way we use the internet? If not, here’s a comprehensive guide that gives you an overview of how different networks affect the speed and user experience. But before that let’s understand what is a download speed. It is the speed at which your device receives text, videos, images, and other data while streaming or downloading videos, browsing web pages, and games. A good download speed means high-quality streaming, i.e., you can watch high-definition videos without experiencing buffering. The higher the speed, the better the user experience!

The download speed is measured in bits per second or bps. In general, download speed is denoted using ‘megabits per second’ (Mbit/s).

‘bit’ = one or zero (binary), and 1 megabit = 1,000,000 bits.

Let’s have a look at the different networks that affect the downloading speed. These are 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G. The ‘G’ stands for ‘generation’ and represents the signal strength.

2G, 3G, 4G & 5G Download Speeds -Transition Across Generations

The connection determines your download speed in addition to other factors like indoor or outdoor locations, your distance from masts and the degree of congestion, the device being used, your operating system, your Network Interface Card (NIC), and other already downloaded applications on your device. With a revolutionary transformation in wireless communication technology, the way we communicate, and share data and experiences has become truly dynamic.

Where it All Started – 1G and 2G

Initially, the network (1G) only offered voice call facilities, which gradually stepped up in the 2G era with advancements like GPRS, EDGE, and GSM. GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) took voice communication to another level with data transfer at a speed of (30-35 Kbps). Over the years, GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) came into the picture and started offering higher data speeds of 110 kbps. EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) was the high point as it offered remarkable advancements over GSM and GPRS. With a speed of 135 kbps, EDGE played a major role in attracting people to 2G networks.

3G and 4G Networks – Improvised Speed and Connectivity

With a speed of up to 2 Mbps, the 3G network enabled smartphones with unmatched web browsing, faster communication (send/receive large emails and texts), and higher security as compared to other networks. The 4G offered minimum data rates of 100 Mbps including Internet Protocol (IP) for data traffic. It was considered as ‘MAGIC’, wherein M stands for Mobile Multimedia, A stands for Anytime/Anywhere, G stands for Global mobility support, I stand for Integrated wireless solution, and C stands for Customized personal service.

5G – The Ultimate Network with High Download Speed

This is the latest technology with a speed ranging between 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps, which ensures fast dialing, higher speed, and multiple device connectivity. The 5G unlocked innumerable possibilities! It is considered 60-120 times faster than 4G and encompasses everything in a 4G network but at a greater speed and seamless network.

To give you a better idea, here’s a comparison chart of 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G networks.

Factors 2G 3G 4G 5G
Year 1993 2001 2009 2018
Technology GSM WCDMA LTE, WiMAX MIMO, mm Waves
Bandwidth 25 MHz 25 MHz 100 MHz 30 GHz to 300 GHz
Features Multimedia (SMS, MMS); internet access; SIM introduced High security, international roaming High-speed handoffs, global mobility Extremely High speed, low latency
Internet Service Narrowband Broadband Ultrabroadband Wireless world wide web
Applications Voice calls, short messages Video conferencing, mobile TV, GPS Mobile TV, wearable devices High resolution video streaming, robots and medical procedures, remote control of vehicles

Ideal Download Speed

Before analyzing the download speed of your network, first understand that there is a difference between the ideal maximum download speed (speed with ideal coverage without any congestion on the masts) and the typical download speed, which completely depends on your everyday experience. You can check download speed using Google’s Speed Test and other tests available online. It is important to note that different networks offer wide coverage and different download speeds, for instance in the UK, you can get category 9 and category 6 speeds on networks like EE, Vodafone, O2, and Three. If you are wondering how to get 5G in UK, you can search online and choose the best network provides with fixed plans for 2023.

A download speed calculator is a great way to find out the speed of your mobile network so that you get a fair idea if you want to upgrade your plan, especially if you are always on the go! In that case, choosing the best network with unlimited data packages including international calling and data plans would be a great way to make sure that you are always connected with your loved ones! If you are in the UK, Talk Home is a great option to experience a blistering fast 5G network.  You can check the speed on Download Speed EE and make an informed decision.

Impact on Download Times & Streaming

If you frequently browse the internet, a fair knowledge of download speed while doing everyday activities is a must! You can find out how much data YouTube use and can understand how streaming and mobile networks relate to each other. In January 2023, approximately 87.66 million active cellular mobile connections were there, and almost 57.10 million social media users in the UK. According to a report by Ookla, in the UK, the fixed internet connection speed of the median was 73.21 Mbps and that of a mobile internet connection speed via a cellular network was 46.02 Mbps.

The significant increase in internet users reiterated the importance of providing seamless and superfast data with high download speed so that users can make the most of their data plans. However, different activities have different download speeds depending on the mobile network.

Download Speed – 2G, 3G, & 4G

Here’s a glimpse of the expected download time while using different networks.

Everyday Activity Download time
2G 3G 4G
Accessing web page 3 min 4 sec 0.5 sec
Sending email without attachment 1 sec >0.1 sec >0.1 sec
Download high-quality photograph 3 min 4 sec 0.5 sec
Downloading an MP3 track 7 sec 10 sec 3 sec
Downloading an application 40 mins 1 min 8 sec

Streaming data is quite common in applications like Netflix, YouTube, Skype, and WhatsApp calls. These apps download data simultaneously while in use. This process is called ‘streaming’. If you have a low download speed, you will experience buffering. Therefore, you should always keep a tab on your internet usage and choose the data as per your requirements.

Average Data Speed

You can also analyze if 5G uses more data than 4G. Through the table below, you can get a clear idea about the download speed while streaming various apps.

Activity Required Download Speed
Phone Call (Skype/WhatsApp) 0.1Mbit/s
Skype Video call 0.5Mbit/s
Skype Video call (HD) 1.5Mbit/s
Online radio 0.2Mbit/s
YouTube Videos (Basic) 0.5Mbit/s
YouTube Videos (720 HD Quality) 2.5Mbit/s
YouTube Videos (1080-p HD Quality) 4Mbit/s
Netflix/iPlayer (Standard Definition) 1.5Mbit/s
Netflix/iPlayer (High Definition) 5Mbit/s
Netflix/iPlayer (4K UHD) 25Mbit/s


People who are into gaming would understand that slight delay in downloading the content. It is called ‘latency’, which can be clearly defined as the time (usually measured in milliseconds) taken for the Ip packet to reach the destination. This means the lower the time, the faster the data, which ultimately enhances the user experience.

It is said that since 5G has low latency, it offers a better user experience! Distance plays a crucial role in escalating the latency of the device, which means that the distance between the servers and the client device can cause poor latency. The typical latency of a 2G network is 500 milliseconds, a 3G network is 100 milliseconds, and a 4G network is 50 milliseconds. If you are using a 5G network, the latency is expected to be 1 millisecond!

Download Speeds & Download Limits

Downloading a speed calculator is a great way to determine how fast your network is while using different apps on your device.

However, one must understand that the download speed is not affected by the connection type as they are downloading files the same size files irrespective of the network type. However, despite all this, exceptions are always there! Here are two of them-

  1. Adaptive streaming: This is relevant to YouTube and Netflix. In both the apps, the video providers adapt the video quality to the connection, i.e., a standard definition quality in the case of a 3G connection and a high-definition video if you have a 4G or 5G connection. In this case, your data usage would be better if you had a good quality fast network.
  2. Higher engagement: If a user has a seamless network without any buffering, he may use the data frequently for longer periods of time because of an improved experience. This results in higher engagement.


Here are a few commonly used terms that would help you understand everything about download speeds easily.

Kbit/s, Mbit/s, Gbit/s: These terms are used to describe the download speed.

1 Mbit is equal to 1000 kbit

1000 Mbit is equal to 1 Gbit.

In general, the download speeds are mentioned in megabits per second (Mbit/s). While 2G connections are explained in kbit/s, the 5G connections are explained in Gbit/s.

Mbit/s vs Mbps: These terms are often confused because of similarity in denotation. While Mbit is megabits per second, which is used to explain the download speed, Mbps or megabytes per second is used for download sizes and download limits. Please note that 1 megabyte has 8 megabits, which means that on a 1 Mbit connection, it would take 8 seconds to download a 1MB file.

5G Wi-Fi

Often confused with 5G mobile technology, 5G Wi-Fi is the frequency in use by the Wi-Fi network, which is 5GHz. The 5G Wi-Fi doesn’t reflect the download speed and hence, should not be used randomly in relation to download speeds.

Today, we cannot function without the Internet as our everyday lives include entertainment, networking, and information, which is often gathered from the Internet. Hence, it is important to understand different aspects of data usage, the benefits of different mobile networks, and downloading speed offered by 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G networks.

Depending upon your data usage and activities, you can choose the best mobile network and make the most of your data package without wasting your time and energy, figuring out reasons why your videos are slow or connection issues during online calls.


Is 300 Mbps good speed?

Yes, 300 Mbps speed is great for a family of four people using the internet. The speed is enough for different activities like browsing the internet, online gaming, and video streaming. You can use the internet on more than three devices and can even download a movie within 2 minutes.

However, if you feel that 300 Mbps speed is slow, the reason may be the timing as the internet usage is highest during the peak time, i.e., from 6 pm to midnight or the location of your Wi-Fi router, which might block the signals. You can maximize the 300 Mbps internet speed by opting for Talk Home mobile data plans with faster, unthrottled, and unlimited data. You can easily download or upload important photos and videos without experiencing lagging.

What is good download speed?

Depending on everyday activities and the number of people using the data, the download speed can get affected drastically. However, internet speed in the range of 25 and 100 Mbps can be used to surf the web and check emails on at least 2 devices. With 50-100 Mbps speed, more people can browse social media accounts, play games, listen to music, and stream in HD or 4G.

You can check the download speed and get a fair idea about the data usage and speed. However, if you have the right service provider with a seamless mobile network or app, you are sorted! Check the Talk Home website to gain more info on the plans and packages. With no annual price hike for 2023, you can get unlimited 5G data and experience superfast connectivity even while you are traveling.

How fast is a 100 Mbps download?

You can get a fair idea about how much speed you need by calculating the number of people using your internet. Also, make a note of all the devices that are using Wi-Fi and find out what people are doing on the internet as it may affect the speed significantly. If you have 100 Mbps download speed, you can support 3-4 users easily with an average speed.

With 100 Mbps, you can stream HD-quality videos, download videos within 7 seconds, and movies in 5 mins! It is much easier to make video calls, play online games, stream music, etc. While general activities like browsing the internet and online music have no real limit!

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