Any broadband package should allow you to use email and browse a webpage, but the range of online services is increasing and many make heavier demands, so here are a few guidelines.
Good-quality video without freezes, dropped connections and other glitches depends on a variety of factors. One is the resolution and compression of the original video. Higher-resolution streams contain more information, so to watch in real time your connection must be faster to keep up.
Watching YouTube, Amazon Prime, Netflix and BBC iPlayer will require about 2-3 Mbps for standard definition video, 3-5 Mbps for HD and 25 Mbps to stream UHD or 4K.
The speeds quoted by providers are a notoriously poor guide to the speed you actually receive, and you are at an extra disadvantage if you live in the country instead of a town. However, legislation is on the way to put an end to this discrepancy.
If you intend to send rather than receive video, then it’s upload speed that matters. This is less prominently advertised and often only a quarter of the download speed. That means you need a fast package: 5Mbps is a minimum. You’ll probably need a fibre optic connection.
Fibre optic providers like Virgin are known to throttle throughput during peak hours if they consider your usage “excessive”. When broadcasting you could fall into that category, so check your provider’s policy before you buy.
Voice calls, such as Skype, are not demanding on speed or bandwidth. However, VoIP providers can now provide much more than voice calls. Video calling and conferencing, for example, are more demanding on connections. The availability of wholesale VOIP termination rates is rapidly expanding the range of quality VoIP services. For more details see https://www.idtexpress.com.
For these VoIP services, upload speeds will again be the most critical factor. To guarantee good quality (e.g. 1080p) look for 3Mbps or better. 1Mbps will do for lower definition.
Although serious live gamers are always convinced they need more speed, it is connection quality that is more likely to impair their gaming experience. Packet loss and latency are more likely to impact game-play at frustrating moments. Recent tests indicate that Sky connections are most stable, while EE and TalkTalk have some catching up to do.