Do Certain Activities Require More Bandwidth Than Others?

5G Aims to Improve the Available Bandwidth for Devices

It seems that with each passing year, internet speed continues to get faster and faster. What once took several minutes or even a few hours to download now only takes a couple of seconds. These advancements have made surfing the internet a much smoother process than ever before. People can download high-definition movies in seconds and find results to their searches almost instantly. All of this is thanks to improved bandwidth.

Internet bandwidth measures how fast data travels over a wired or wireless connection, such as on a computer that uses an ethernet cable or a smart TV that’s connected via WiFi. While location matters when it comes to internet speed (see our blog on rural 5G), there are plenty of other components that factor into this speed.

As we mentioned before, we continue to see more advancements in internet connection with each year. Today, there are countless devices that can connect to your internet, whether wired or wireless. However, how do these individual devices affect your internet speed? Do certain activities require more bandwidth than others?

Here at ARYU Networks, we are always staying in the know when it comes to creating and deploying reliable wireless networks. We strive to ensure everyone has access to secure high-speed internet.

What is Bandwidth?

Internet bandwidth refers to the amount of data that travels across an internet connection, either wired or wireless. It is measured in bits per second, but most internet connections measure bandwidth on a scale of megabits per second (for example, 110 Mbps).

Most internet connections have a maximum bandwidth that they offer, but a host of factors combine to limit this for different devices. The bandwidth available to specific activities is more than it is for others.

When a device is connected to the internet, data travels in two ways: from the device and to the device. In most cases, internet processes likely involve data flowing to your device rather than from it. Naturally, most connections prioritize this kind of bandwidth usage. However, some activities require a device to send data from the device, such as video calls and playing online video games.

Additionally, the more users and devices you have connected to your network, the less bandwidth you have to share. That means the speed you’ll experience across all devices will likely be slower than you would expect.

When more users use a single connection, they are each competing for a finite amount of bandwidth. Therefore, each device receives a smaller portion of the bandwidth available, decreasing the speeds you’ll experience. But what activities require more bandwidth than others?

Estimated Bandwidth Usage by Activity 

Every year, developers create new devices that can connect to the internet. These devices often join the Internet of Things, which is an interconnected network of devices. Regardless, with each internet-connected device, the bandwidth each gets decreases, along with its speed.

Instead of everyone using one TV, almost every member of a house has a screen or device they can use. While someone is streaming their favorite show in the living room, someone else could be playing video games in another room while another person could be watching videos on YouTube on their mobile device. Each device is competing for bandwidth on the same network. Depending on the activity, the amount of bandwidth needed varies.

Here are some of the bandwidth demands of specific activities:

  • Surfing the Web: minimum of 2 Mbps
  • Streaming YouTube: 20 Mbps for 4K video resolutions and 5 Mbps for HD 1080p
  • Streaming Music: minimum of 0.5 Mbps
  • Playing Online Video Games: minimum of 3 Mbps
  • Streaming Services:
    • Netflix: 5 Mbps for HD and 25 Mbps for 4K
    • Hulu: 3 Mbps for HD and 16 Mbps for 4K
    • Disney+: 5-10 Mbps HD and 25 Mbps for 4k
    • HBO: 5 Mbps
  • Zoom Video Calls: for 1:1 video calls, 8 Mbps for 1080p HD sending and receiving, and for group video calls for 1080p HD, 2.5 Mbps for receiving and 3 Mbps for sending

These are just a handful of the bandwidth requirements you might experience. While many of them seem small, when it’s around peak hours (8-10 p.m.), more devices are connected. That means more devices are competing for bandwidth.

Typically, you can always check each site or service to see what their bandwidth requirements are to see what you will need at a given moment.

5G’s Impact

As we’ve mentioned ad nauseam, developers are creating more and more devices that connect to wireless networks. However, the more devices that connect to these networks, the more they have to compete for available bandwidth. As you can imagine, download and upload speeds decrease significantly when many devices are connected to one network, regardless of the activity. 5G aims to fix that problem.

This issue is particularly noticeable in densely populated areas. These areas have many people, all of whom likely have multiple devices connected to networks. 5G is ten times faster than 4G LTE, improving network reliability and decreasing latency. One way 5G does this is with small cell technology.

Small cells play a pivotal role in 5G. Network providers will place these mini-fridge sized devices throughout densely populated areas, only a few blocks from one another. They are crucial to sending data to and from wireless devices. They also provide more reliable network coverage to smaller areas.

While small cells don’t cover large distances, they can support and send much larger quantities of data much faster. The speeds 5G offers reduce the bandwidth required by most devices and activities. Even with increasing competition, users don’t have to worry about latency.


5G offers users a wireless network that provides greater bandwidth, which reduces the level of competition and reduces speeds across all devices.

With each passing year, we see more devices that can connect to wireless networks. While these devices improve convenience for many, they also affect internet speeds. After all, internet networks only offer a finite amount of bandwidth, so these devices have to compete for the available bandwidth.

Fortunately, as we see more devices emerge, we also see advancements in mobile networks. 5G is the next step. With the help of 5G networks, we will see greater bandwidth, which gives users higher download speeds and reduces latency. It also means these devices won’t have to compete for a small amount of broadband, regardless if you’re playing video games or streaming Netflix.

ARYU Networks keeps a close eye on the always evolving world of wireless networks. We are on the frontlines of 5G deployment, ensuring everyone has access to reliable and lightning-fast internet connection.