Fast facts:

  • Slow internet can cost the average household 140-340 hours a year in downloading, web page loading, and buffering time.
  • Data consumption via internet connection continues to increase annually.
  • Average household internet speeds are climbing, but some households still suffer from slow or very slow connections.

There are few things as frustrating as slow internet connections, especially while trying to work, stream movies and television, or play video games.

We recently completed a study comparing slow internet to the number of hours it can take to download things like news articles, YouTube videos, and HD streams from services like Netflix and found that even small upgrades to your internet connection can exponentially improve performance.

On a slow connection (anything below 25 Mbps), users start to notice decreases in video loading speeds. Moving into the very slow internet range (anything below 5 Mbps, or slightly faster than a 3G connection), web pages start taking longer to load and streaming video is difficult or impossible. 

In 2017, the average household download speed was 18.75 Mbps, according to a study by Statista. And while things have improved greatly since then (with upgrades to services from most major ISPs in the past three years many consumers are seeing averages above 100 Mbps), slow internet can cost the average U.S. consumer a considerable amount of time loading web pages and buffering video.

Internet usage is also spiking, thanks to services like Netflix, YouTube, live video chatting services and the increasing popularity of online gaming. The average household uses 273 GB of data a month, according to a 2019 Telecompetitor study.

Using this as a jumping-off point, we wanted to see how much longer things take to download over the course of a year on slower internet connections. Here is what we found:

Hours Spent DownloadingDownloading Time (HOURS) Saved per MONTH if Plan Upgraded
Internet Speed (Mbps)Avg Data Used per month (MB)DayMonthYearPlus 1 Mbps DifferencePlus 10 Mbps Difference Plus 100 Mbps Difference
127350020.95637.27646.4319579.2630.95
102735002.0963.8765.65.8031.9058
18.752735001.12344081.911.9428.7
1002735000.216.375.6.1.453.05
5002735000.041.113.2.05.10.11
10002735000.020.657.8.02.04.10

As seen in the table above, even small improvements to slow internet speeds can make a monumental difference in the performance of home internet connections. Someone upgrading from a 10 Mbps plan can expect almost sixty hours of improvement to the amount of time their internet connection spends downloading and streaming content.

One of the most common complaints consumers have about their ISP is slow connection speed. And while sometimes it can be an intermittent issue like needing to reset a router or whatever device is currently suffering the slow speed, a lot of the times it's simply the demand of heavy data usage over a connection that can't handle it.

If you are constantly dealing with slow internet, speak with your ISP to learn more about what an upgrade might look like. While 10 Mbps-25 Mbps might have been good enough even just a few years ago, the demands of modern streaming television and online gaming require more connection speed than ever before. Most ISPs are now offering much faster connections at affordable prices.

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