Is Your Internet Good Enough for Working From Home?
Your internet is good enough to work from home if you have download speeds of at least 25 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps. You’re even better off if you can get home Wi-Fi with download speeds of 100 Mbps. You don’t need the fastest speeds ever, but when it comes to working from home, a fast and reliable connection is paramount.
Although most work tasks don’t actually require fast internet, ample bandwidth is important because you need to be able to perform multiple online tasks with ease while also balancing the Wi-Fi needs of roommates or family members. Fast speeds also help make for a fluid workflow and low-stress day—you can download files in a timely fashion and maintain a smooth Wi-Fi connection during crucial meetings and brainstorm sessions.
Take our speed test above to see if your home Wi-Fi is good enough for your remote work tasks. Then keep reading below for in-depth guidance on how to get the best internet for working from home.
Jump to: Best internet plans for remote work | How fast should your internet be? | Fiber internet and symmetrical speeds | Satellite internet and rural internet | How much data do you need? | Zoom calls | Downloading and uploading | Hotspots and remote work
Best internet plans for working from home
|Google Fiber 1 Gig||$70.00/mo.*||1,000 Mbps|
|Xfinity Connect More||$40.00/mo.†||200 Mbps||View Plans|
|Spectrum Internet®||$49.99/mo. for 12 mos.‡||Up to 300 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)||View Plans|
|AT&T Fiber Internet 300||$55.00/mo.§||300 Mbps|
|CenturyLink Fiber Internet 200||$30.00/mo.║||Up to 200 Mbps|
|T-Mobile 5G Home Internet||$50.00/mo.**||33–182 Mbps||View Plans|
|Starlink||$110.00/mo.††||20–220 Mbps||View Plans|
|AT&T Internet up to 100 Mbps (DSL)||$55.00/mo.‡‡||Up to 100 Mbps|
See bottom of the page for disclaimers.
How fast should your internet be if you work from home?
|Remote work task||Recommended minimum bandwidth|
|Checking email||1–5 Mbps|
|Using Google Docs||1–5 Mbps|
|Streaming music||1–5 Mbps|
|Making video calls on Zoom||1–5 Mbps|
|Downloading/uploading small files (1 MB–1 GB)||25–100 Mbps|
|Downloading/uploading large files (20 GB or higher)||100–1,000 Mbps|
To work from home, you should have an internet download speed of at least 25 Mbps and upload speed of 3 Mbps. These speeds are the baseline standards that the Federal Communications Commission sets for broadband internet—and they should be enough to cover most daily work tasks.
Realistically, though, you may want a faster connection. A great download speed for most people is 100 Mbps. That gives you ample bandwidth to cover all your work tasks while leaving plenty of room for streaming, gaming, and more.
Here’s what you can do at work with fast Wi-Fi:
- Juggle multiple tasks at once
- Stream music and podcasts while on the job
- Handle numerous video calls during the workday
- Share the same Wi-Fi with others without slowdowns or disconnects
Get fiber internet for smooth video calls (and other benefits)
If you really want good internet for working from home, get fiber.
Fiber internet is the fastest and most reliable internet you can get. Not only does fiber have incredibly fast speeds, but it also gets you symmetrical uploads and downloads.
When your upload speeds are just as fast as your download speeds, you get a ton more support to handle upload-heavy tasks like Zoom calls, uploading files to a cloud, posting to YouTube, and streaming over Twitch. It’s the best internet for influencers and other full-time content creators.
Can you work at home with satellite internet?
Yes, you can work from home with satellite internet. But it’s not as easy as working from home with a faster connection, and you may need to budget for slowed speeds and extra data. And you’ll need to make sure other people and devices in your home aren’t trying to stream or video conference at the same time that you work, especially if you have an important meeting to take.
Satellite isn’t an ideal internet connection type for remote working. Since the connection is beamed down literally from space, you have to contend with slow speeds, high latency, and tight data restrictions. Satellite internet plans also cost significantly more than most internet packages.
What is the best satellite internet provider for working from home?
|Provider||Speed||Data cap||Price||Order online|
|Starlink||20–220 Mbps||1 TB/mo. (after that speeds reduced)||$110.00–$500.00/mo.*||View Plans|
|HughesNet||25 Mbps (same speed on all plans)||15–100 GB/mo. (after that speeds reduced)||$49.99–$124.99/mo.†|
|Viasat||12–100 Mbps||12–100 GB/mo. (after that speeds reduced)||$30.00–$169.99/mo.‡|
*Plus hardware, shipping & handling fees, and tax. Fully refundable. Depending on location, some orders may take 6 months or more to fulfill.
†Pricing for the first 6 months. Service plans require a 24-month commitment. Pricing not available in all areas.
‡Offer available to new qualifying customers. One-time standard installation fee may be due at checkout. Minimum 24-month service term required. Equipment lease fee is $12.99/mo. Taxes apply. Service is not available in all areas. Offer may be changed or withdrawn at any time.
Starlink is the best satellite internet provider for working from home. Though installation prices are steep, Starlink’s flagship plan gives you ample speeds and 1 TB of high-speed data per month—a luxury compared to the stringent data caps you get from other satellite providers.
How much data do you need for working from home?
|Remote work task||Minimum recommended data per month|
|Streaming video in HD||300 GB|
|Making video calls on Zoom||60 GB|
|Web browsing and checking email||40 GB|
|Streaming music or podcasts||13 GB|
Data from the Armstrong data calculator.
Ideally you need at least 600 GB per month of internet data if you’re working from home.
While internet speeds are important, you also need to think about the amount of data you consume per month as part of your regular tasks. Zoom video calls, downloads, and video streams can be a huge drain on your data, so make sure you have a big enough data cap on your monthly Wi-Fi package.
Data caps put a limit on how much data you can use before overage fees or throttled speeds kick in. Most providers give customers 1 TB per month, which is plenty. But if your job involves a ton of downloading and Zoom calls, aim to get an internet plan with unlimited data.
How much internet speed do you need for Zoom calls?
|Activity*||Required internet speed (upload/download)|
|1:1 video call in “high-quality video” (480p)**||600 Kbps/600 Kbps (0.6 Mbps)|
|1:1 video call in 780p HD||1.2 Mbps/1.2 Mbps|
|Sending and receiving video in 1080p HD||1.8 Mbps/1.8 Mbps|
|Group video call in 480p SD||800 Kbps (0.8 Mbps)/1.0 Mbps|
|Group call/gallery view in 720p HD||1.5 Mbps/1.5 Mbps|
|Sending and receiving group call video in 1080p HD||2.5 Mbps/3.0 Mbps|
|Screen sharing||50–150 Kbps (both upload/download)|
|Audio VoiP||60–80 Kbps (both upload/download)|
|Zoom Phone||60–100 Kbps (both upload/download)|
*According to bandwidth requirements on Zoom’s website.
**Zoom uses the term “high-quality video,” which doesn’t describe any industry-standard video resolution, but we interpret it to mean standard resolution of 480p.
Technically, Zoom doesn’t require a whole lot of speed to work properly. According to the app’s bandwidth requirements, you don’t even need 1 Mbps of download speeds to get a Zoom video call going in 480p SD resolution.
Honestly, though, you’re going to want a fast and consistent internet connection for this sort of thing.
In our experience, sluggish Wi-Fi makes for herky-jerky video calls. The video buffers. There are delays between the video and audio. Voices start speeding up and slowing down as the connection struggles to play catch-up with the live feed. It’s frustrating—and potentially disastrous if you’re conducting important business.
So if you’re using Zoom all day—or you’re regularly on another video conferencing app, like Skype, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts or WhatsApp—don’t stick to bare-minimum speeds. Leave a wide buffer of bandwidth to account for other tasks, other users, and technical glitches that may come along unexpectedly.
Take a look at our Zoom speed guide for tips on how to get a solid video call when you have slow Wi-Fi.
How much internet speed do you need for downloading files?
|File||10 Mbps down/1 Mbps up||25 Mbps down/3 Mbps up||100 Mbps down/10 Mbps up||1,000 Mbps down/1,000 Mbps up|
|Downloading a 5-page PDF file (5 MB)||4 seconds||1 second||Less than 1 second||Less than 1 second|
|Downloading a small video file (300 MB)||4 minutes, 24 seconds||1 minute, 45 seconds||26 seconds||2 seconds|
|Downloading a large piece of software (3 GB)||40 minutes||16 minutes||4 minutes||24 seconds|
|Downloading a large video file (10 GB)||2 hours, 30 minutes||1 hour||15 minutes||1 minute, 30 seconds|
Data from Omni bandwidth calculator.
Next to video conference calls, downloading and uploading are the biggest bandwidth bandits in the work-from-home world.
It’s true that many workplaces don’t require you to download large files on the regular. Most stuff we download for work—say, a PDF or screenshot or high-resolution image—can be downloaded in a matter of seconds even on a 10 Mbps connection.
But lots of jobs entail downloading of larger files, including software, videos, and more. Also, many workers have to upload files as well, helping them work over cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive. In these cases, it’s better to have faster speeds because it minimizes the amount of time it takes to complete each download (or upload). Fast speeds also let you multitask a lot easier, without fears that the download will freeze and you’ll have to start all over.
Use a hotspot for remote work at hotels and restaurants
Hotspots aren’t the best tools to use for working from home. But when you’re working from a hotel or a restaurant, they can’t be beat.
A hotspot gives you a Wi-Fi connection on the go, letting you connect laptops, phones, and other Wi-Fi devices. Most phones come with built-in hotspots, but you can buy a standalone hotspot to get faster speeds and connect more devices.
Best hotspots for remote work
|Product||Price||Connectivity||Max devices||Order online|
|Inseego 5G MiFi M2000||$336.00||5G, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)||30||View on T-Mobile|
|Verizon Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800L Hotspot||$199.99||4G LTE, 802.11ac||15||VIew on Verizon|
|NETGEAR Nighthawk M1 4G LTE Mobile Router||$338.00||4G LTE, 802.11ac||20||View on Amazon|
|NETGEAR Nighthawk M6 5G WiFi 6 Mobile Router||$799.99||5G (mm-wave, C-band), Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)||32||View on Amazon|
|Alcatel LINKZONE||$84.87||4G LTE, 802.11n||16||View on Amazon|
|Huawei E5577-320 4G LTE Mobile WiFi Hotspot||$83.99||4G LTE, 802.11n||10||View on Amazon|
Data as of 11/28/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Amazon.com Price as of 11/28/22 10:30 MST. See full disclaimer.
Of course, you can always use the Wi-Fi hotspot at a coffee shop or restaurant to get some work done when you’re away from home. But, like, do you really want to do that? Restaurant Wi-Fi is often horribly slow and unreliable, and connecting to an unsecured public network also opens you up for attacks by malware and viruses.
Using a hotspot gives you faster speeds—because you’re not sharing your internet with 100 other people. And quality hotspots also come with password protection and other security features like WPA2 encryption, keeping your sensitive work docs safe.
Why use a hotspot instead of coffee shop Wi-Fi?
- Faster speeds
- Connectability for more users
- Better privacy and security safeguards
What to do if your internet speed is slower than expected
There are several reasons why your speed test results might not be as fast as you expected. Try these tips to see if you can get a more accurate reading:
- Temporarily disable your firewall (but don’t forget to turn it back on afterward) and rerun the test.
- Reboot your modem and router, and rerun the test.
- Unplug your router from the modem, plug a desktop or laptop into the modem’s Ethernet port, and rerun the test.
- If you have a wireless gateway rather than a separate modem and router, plug a desktop or laptop into one of the Ethernet ports, and rerun the test.
If you see inconsistent results, there might be a bottleneck on your end. You can troubleshoot poor internet speeds with our guide on how to fix slow internet. But your internet connection may just be slow either from your plan or your internet type.
If nothing helps, call your internet provider or look for a new one.
How to make sense of your speed test results
Here’s a brief overview of what your speed test results mean and how they affect your internet’s performance. For more in-depth information, check out our consumer’s guide to internet speed.
The speed at which your device pulls data from the internet. Usually measured in Mbps or Gbps.
The speed at which your device sends data to the internet. Usually measured in Mbps or Gbps.
The time (measured in milliseconds) it takes for a signal to travel from your device to an internet server and back. Lower latency means your connection has a better response time for activities like gaming and livestreams.
A company that provides internet services in a local area. Examples include Xfinity, Spectrum, and Google Fiber.
Internet protocol address—the unique numerical code that identifies an internet-connected device and its geographic location.
The location of the server you connect to in order to run the speed test.
How do I test my Wi-Fi speed?
You can use our internet speed test to check your Wi-Fi speed. Just follow these steps.
Test your Wi-Fi speed with a separate modem and router
Step 1: Run our speed test on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop connected to your Wi-Fi network while standing next to your router and record the speed test results.
Step 2: Connect a wired desktop or laptop to one of the wireless gateway’s Ethernet ports.
Step 3: Rerun our speed test with the wired connection, and compare the results against the first Wi-Fi speed test.If you see a huge difference between the two tests, check out our guide on what to do if you’re experiencing slow Wi-Fi.
Looking for provider speed test results?
*Average of HighSpeedInternet.com speed test results for all provider’s users.
*Plus taxes and fees. Upload/download speed and device streaming claims are based on maximum wired speeds. Actual Internet speeds are not guaranteed and may vary based on factors such as hardware and software limitations, latency, packet loss, etc.
†For the first 12 months with a 1-year agreement. Taxes and equipment not included.
‡Limited time offer; subject to change; valid to qualified residential customers who have not subscribed to any services within the previous 30 days and who have no outstanding obligation to Charter.
§Price after $5/mo Autopay & Paperless bill discount (w/in 2 bills). Plus taxes & fees. Internet speed claims represent maximum network service capability speeds and based on wired connection to gateway. Actual customer speeds may vary based on a number of factors and are not guaranteed. For more information, go to www.att.com/speed101.
║Speed may not be available in your area. Paperless billing required. Taxes and fees apply. Offer Details. Online ONLY. Free Modem.
**w/ Auto Pay. Regulatory fees included in monthly price for qualified accounts.
††Plus hardware, shipping & handling fees, and tax. Fully refundable. Depending on location, some orders may take 6 months or more to fulfill.
‡‡for 12 mos, plus taxes. Price after $5/mo Autopay & Paperless bill discount (w/in 2 bills). Plus taxes $ fees. Limited availability. May not be available in your area. Call or go to att.com/internet to see if you qualify.
Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. HighSpeedInternet.com utilizes paid Amazon links.
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