Everyone uses the internet differently. Even the most basic users who say "just for browsing the web and checking the email" have a few different habits hiding under the hood, but the internet is so seamless at times that it hides many of the more complex parts of internet use. Here are a few comment internet activities, along with what you should expect from--or ask of--Internet service providers (ISPs).
Web Browsing Involves More Than Just Text And Pictures
Many people use the internet just to gather information. They check out a few news articles, read some commentary, and research things that they need to know about away from the web. At one point, this just meant loading text and a bit of pictures. At the introduction of broadband, a nearly perfect climate for such users opened up--aside from a few infrastructure problems leading to disconnects.
Modern internet is not just text and pictures. Because the internet can be delivered at higher speeds or bandwidth, many websites ask for more bandwidth. Why use plain, grainy, low-resolution pictures when the average internet users out there can load a new generation of high definition?
Going further, why stop at pictures? Many websites have videos loading on the side of their content or to break up the text in the same way that pictures once did on their own. This isn't a problem if your internet is fast enough.
The problem gets more complicated with advertisements. Some ads are videos, and some ad slots rotate multiple video ads. That means multiple videos demanding your internet capacity as you browse.
These issues should be fine for companies offering at least the average internet speed in the United States, but don't cut costs by going too low with your speeds. There's no magic number, but try to stay above 20Mbps (megabits per second). It should handle websites with video, and even give you a chance to try out some internet video if you'd like to take your television time to the computer.
Streaming Video Is The New Normal Internet Test
Web browsing is still a common answer, but watching internet video instead of television is a normal--often expected--part of any household that has a computer.
Traditional television has long since been disrupted by online video in its many forms. Whether it's original content from amateur and non-network content creators, pirated or illegal video streams, or major services such as Netflix, Hulu, Crunchyroll, Amazon Prime, or YouTube, many people have their attention divided from multiple sources--and television networks have changed to maintain a presence on those platforms as well.
How does your internet factor in? Every streaming service has a recommended internet speed, but look to the average United States speed again. Anything over 40Mbps should be fine, and you need to plan for more activities than just streaming.
Unless you're extremely disciplined or uninterested in anything on the internet, you're not likely looking at just streaming. The speed demands vary depending on video quality, but you need that much speed uninterrupted. If anyone else is using the internet for browsing, downloading, online gaming, or watching different videos, everyone will have slower internet if you're competing.
Contact an ISP professional to discuss available internet packages.