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Download Speed: How Much Do I Need and How Long Does It Take to Download 1 GB?

Discover in this guide from internet-offer.ch what the minimum acceptable speed is for browsing the internet, how long it takes to download files of different sizes, and what the average download speeds are across Switzerland.

Looking for a faster internet connection? Take a look at the ultra-fast subscriptions available on our comparison portal:

What is the ideal connection speed?

To assess an internet download speed, it's necessary to know the intended uses of the connection. The minimum download speed for browsing and checking email is 1.5 Mbps. To consider your download speed good for common activities such as working from home, streaming movies, or gaming online, it should be between 10 and 20 Mbps.

 

However, since there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, here are the download speeds with the corresponding possible activities:

  • 768K -1.5 Mbps: Making VoIP calls (e.g., on Skype), checking email, browsing the web.

  • 1.5 Mbps - 7 Mbps: Listening to music on Spotify, watching videos in Standard Definition (SD), sharing small/medium-sized images.

  • 7 Mbps - 20 Mbps: Watching TV on internet IPTV, gaming online, watching on-demand TV series, working from home.

  • 20 Mbps - 100 Mbps: Streaming videos in High Definition (HD), distance learning, conducting telemedicine checks, accessing surveillance cameras, participating in video conference meetings.

  • 100 Mbps - 1 Gbps: Real-time data collection, downloading large files (e.g., PC updates or videos).

  • > 1 Gbps: Professional online gaming, Activating live streams on Twitch.

Megabyte, Megabit, and Mbps: Meaning and Differences

In the world of computing, it's important to know what a bit and a byte are, as they are often used to calculate internet speed and the size of mobile phone memory.

 

In short, a byte is composed of a sequence of 8 bits and represents the basic unit of data quantity, while the bit is the basic unit for digital information and can only take two values, 0 or 1.

 

Bytes and their multiples are used to measure the size of a file. These are also used to establish roaming data rates for use abroad. Download speed is always expressed in Megabits per second (meaning a million bits passed through the router every second).

 

To recap, 1 GB (Gigabyte) is 1,000 MB (Megabyte) and measures the size of a file, while 1 Gbps (Gigabit per second) is 1,000 Mbps (Megabit per second) and measures internet speed.

How long does it take to download a file?

As explained above, to calculate the download time of a file, you will need to know 2 elements: the file size in MB and the download speed in Mbps.

Once these two values are identified, you can calculate the time it takes to download a file using the following formula:

 

Download Time (seconds) = File Size (MB) / Download Speed (Mbps) x 8

 

Below is a table showing download times expressed in seconds (s), minutes (m), or hours (h) for files of different sizes depending on different download speeds:

File
10 Mbps
20 Mbps
100 Mbps
500 Mbps
1 Gbps
10 Gbps
1 MB
0.8 s
0.4 s
0.1 s
< 0.1 s
< 0.1 s
< 0.1 s
2 MB
1.6 s
0.8 s
0.2 s
< 0.1 s
< 0.1 s
< 0.1 s
3 MB
2.4 s
1.6 s
0.2 s
< 0.1 s
< 0.1 s
< 0.1 s
5 MB
4 s
2 s
0.4 s
0.1 s
< 0.1 s
< 0.1 s
10 MB
8 s
4 s
0.8 s
0.2 s
0.1 s
< 0.1 s
1 GB
13.7 m
6.8 m
1.4 m
16.4 s
8.2 s
0.8 s
2 GB
27.4 m
13.6 m
2.8 m
32.8 s
16.4 s
1.6 s
10 GB
2.3 h
1.1 h
13.7 m
2.7 m
1.4 m
8.2 s

To help you identify your download speed with the previous table, we provide below the standard sizes of various file types to cross-reference with your network speed:

  • Photograph: 2 MB

  • 1-minute video at 720p: 10 MB

  • High-definition film: 2 GB

  • MP3 voice audio for 1 minute: 3 MB

  • PowerPoint attachment from an email: 5 MB

  • iOS system update: 3 GB

  • PS5 system update: 1 GB

If you're unsure about your current speed, you can immediately perform a free speedtest by proceeding to the section on internet-offer.ch.

What speed is available at my address?

The download speed available at your address depends on several factors:

  • Type of connection:  Depending on the internet connection technology you're using, you'll have an estimate of the maximum download speed. Modern technologies like fiber optics or 5G networks can reach up to Gigabit per second, while older technologies like copper connections or 3G can provide speeds ranging from 5 to 20 Mbps depending on the distance from the central office or antenna.

  • Installed Internet router: Some Internet router models allow you to use the maximum download speed even via Wi-Fi connection, while others have technical limitations that slightly slow down the connection.

  • Maximum speed from the contract: When subscribing to a home internet or mobile subscription, you can read in the contract the maximum agreed speed beyond which the internet service provider may impose an automatic limitation.

 

To know exactly the coverage of mobile networks and fiber optics, you can use the online tools available in the "For You" section of internet-offer.ch.

Internet speed in Switzerland

This map shows download speeds collected anonymously from users performing speed tests managed by nPerf. The data collected by nPerf follows these legal terms

Luce notturna dell'autostrada

According to the latest data published by nPerf, the average fixed-line download speed in Switzerland amounts to 304 Mbps, significantly exceeding that of other neighboring countries like Italy and Germany, which stop at 186 Mbps and 113 Mbps, respectively. This higher speed is likely correlated with fiber optic coverage.

Internet speed for various programs and websites

Browsing the internet to read news or check email does not require high download speeds. However, if the need shifts to streaming videos on YouTube or playing online games, it's probably necessary to carefully check network performance for an optimal browsing experience.

What is the minimum speed for watching IPTV?

The recommended minimum speed for watching television on the internet is 7 Mbps for standard definition (SD) content, which increases to 12-15 Mbps for high definition (HD) content and 25 Mbps for ultra-high definition (4K or UHD) content.

However, to fully enjoy your TV subscription without interruptions or buffering, it's advisable to have an internet connection with higher download speeds than the recommended minimum requirements.

What speed is needed for watching Netflix?

The recommended connection speed for watching Netflix depends on the video quality you want to view. Here are Netflix's general recommendations:

 

  • Standard Definition (SD): For streaming included in the base subscription with ads, Netflix recommends a connection speed of at least 5 Mbps.

  • Ultra High Definition (UHD or 4K): For streaming in UHD or 4K included in the premium subscription, Netflix recommends a connection speed of at least 25 Mbps.

What internet speed is recommended for using Zattoo?

Like other IPTV subscriptions, you'll need an internet subscription with a maximum download speed of at least 20 Mbps to use Zattoo TV. With the Zattoo Home subscription offered directly by the operator, the connection speed reaches 1 Gbps on a fiber optic connection.

What internet speed is needed for using VoIP phones?

The speed required to use VoIP phones depends on various factors, with call quality being the most important. Here's an estimate of connection speeds for making VoIP calls:

  • Standard voice calls: The recommended download and upload speed for standard voice calls is 100 Kbps.

  • High-definition voice calls (HD): For higher-quality voice calls, such as HD calls, the minimum speed should be at least 1 Mbps.

  • Video call: If you want to make video calls via VoIP, approximately 3-4 Mbps in upload and download speed is preferable.

What is the right speed for online gaming?

The online gaming experience requires a higher download connection speed compared to other online activities.

Here's the minimum download speed for various types of online gaming:

  • Standard online gaming: 3-6 Mbps.

  • Competitive multiplayer gaming: 20 Mbps.

  • Virtual reality gaming (VR): 50-100 Mbps.

FAQ Download Speed

What is download speed?

Download speed is the rate at which data is transferred from the Internet server to your mobile device or router. In the former case, we refer to mobile download speed, and in the latter, fixed download speed.

What does Mbps download mean?

Mbps stands for megabits per second and is a unit of measurement for download speed, indicating how many megabits of data can be transferred to your device in one second.

What is a good download speed?

A good download speed depends on your needs, but it is commonly believed that a speed of at least 25 Mbps is adequate for video streaming and other online activities. With many devices connected simultaneously, a good download speed should be around 100 Mbps.

When is internet speed considered good?

Internet speed is considered good when it enables fast and stable data transfer, supporting online activities without interruptions or buffering.

What are the optimal download and upload values?

Optimal values for download speed depend on the intended use of the Internet connection, but usually download speeds of at least 25 Mbps are considered good.

What is the difference between bytes and bits?

A byte is composed of 8 bits. Bytes are used to measure the capacity of data storage or transfer, while bits are the basic unit for digital information.

What can I do with 20 Mbps?

With a download speed of 20 Mbps, you can perform many online activities, including streaming HD video, smooth web browsing, and fast downloading of moderately sized files. However, you can improve your download speed up to 10 Gbps by switching to a fiber optic subscription.

Stay informed and save with internet-offer.ch

Continue to educate yourself by reading other guides on internet-offer.ch about mobile and fixed telephony, internet, and TV. If you prefer, proceed to the comparison section and find the best offer for your needs.

Do you find it useful?

Author: Lapo Zarina

Publication: April 2024

Sources: 2023 nPerf Report, Wikipedia page on speed tests and internet speed | Proprietary images and WIX stock

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