Remember the days of dial-up? You’d sit down at a monitor the size of a small child and wait forever as the screeching, beeping sounds of the modem connected you to a world wide web that was glacially slow. Thankfully, times have changed. There’s a lot more happening online now, from smart homes to smartphones, but the most intensive user of your bandwidth? Definitely video games, with their photorealistic graphics and sometimes thousands of simultaneous players.
Along with faster speeds, there are lots of other features to sort through. Everyone needs a reliable Internet provider, xbut once you have that in place, there are still many different options, and it’s crucial that you choose your speed based on what you and family will be using your connection for. Because while any Internet service is fine for checking email and streaming standard-def videos, it’s not enough for families — such as ones that love video games — who ask more of their network.
If that sounds like you, it’s probably time to reevaluate your needs. Read on for some signs that it’s time to treat yourself and your family to an Internet connection that can handle everything you throw at it. Because there’s so much you can do with WiFi, and you don’t want to miss out.
Sign #1: You’re a three-season sports fan. If your closet is full of jerseys for every season, it’s only a matter of time until you learn that watching sports in 4K is something special. Incredibly, you can see more on your TV that anyone in the stadium can, but it takes a ton of bandwidth to get picture and sound that smooth and clear. So if you’re a sports fan — a serious one — and you don’t want to miss the last-second goal or walk-off homer, a fast Internet connection is an absolute must.
Sign #2: The boss beat you. Ever have a moment in a game where you’re fighting a boss and a weird lag causes you to lose a life right before you were about to taste victory? It’s a unique kind of pain, one that should convince you to upgrade.
Sign #3: You’re a smart-home connoisseur. If you have more smart-home devices than you can count — vacuum cleaner, thermostat, light bulbs, smart speakers — you’re going to need more bandwidth. And because so many of the things that make our lives easier depend on WiFi, you’ll want to make sure your network can handle everything you want to connect in the future.
Sign #4: The kids have their own smartphones. It’s important to set limits, but there’s no denying that letting the kids use their phones can buy mom and dad some much needed quiet time. Here’s the thing: If they have devices, no matter how many limits you put on them, they’re going to suck up bandwidth. It would be nice if kids read books on their phones, but the reality is that they’re watching movies, playing games, video chatting with friends, and using a ton of bandwidth while they’re at it. Because while it’s easy to pause their access with an app, when dinner and homework are done you want to make sure your kiddos have the bandwidth they need to live their digital lives.
Sign #5: You’re a multitasker. Parents don’t have a lot of time, so you might have to load your e-reader with a new title, make sure you have the latest episodes of your favorite podcast ready for your commute, find a kid-friendly restaurant for Saturday night, and stream highlights from your favorite team all at once. A fast connection to the Internet is the best way to make sure you can get all of your digital tasks — the fun ones and the meh ones — done at once, because Silicon Valley has yet to figure out a way to add more hours to the day.
Sign #6: You’re a downloader. There’s a ton of reasons to download movies, TV shows, podcasts, and games to your phone or tablet before you head out the door. You might not want to be at the mercy of whatever the airline loaded on the headrest TVs. You might want to make your long everyday commute go by a little faster. You might just want to be prepared in case you end up somewhere without great cell service. The bottom line is that your phone has plenty of space that you can fill up with content quickly if you have the right connection.
Sign #7: MMO means something to you. The golden age of massively multiplayer online role-playing games keeps getting more golden. If you’re really into them — and no one is sorta into them — you need the bandwidth to keep up with the growing ambition and corresponding technical demands of these games.
Sign #8: You’re a global gaming citizen. Online game performance tends to work best on nearby servers, but if you want to play with a friend on the other side of the world, you might have to log in to one that’s far away. A faster Internet connection means you’ll get great gaming quality whether you’re running on a server in Sydney or Schenectady. Because while it’s amazing that you can go up against players thousands of miles away in real time, you’ll only feel anger if you’re abruptly kicked off of the server.
Sign #9: There are more than eight devices that can stream in your house. Go ahead and count them. Remember all of the computers, tablets, smartphones, game consoles, media streamers, and smart TVs that you, your spouse, and your kids use. Odds are that your connected family is pushing double-digit devices, and unless you’re planning on firing them up one at a time you’ll need a connection that can handle lots simultaneous connections without a hitch.
Sign #10: You’re an aesthete. Do you get excited about screen technology? Know the difference between LED and OLED TVs? Can you rattle off the response times of all of your screens? You like pretty things, we get it. You also like bandwidth-intensive things, whether you know it or not, and playing games on anything but the highest quality, most resource-intensive setting isn’t an option. Don’t waste perfectly good pixels.
Sign #11: You’re part of a gaming club. Since you had kids, gaming with your friends (who also have kids) is the only time you can regularly hang out. Don’t let shoddy service get in the way. If it’s in the basement, make sure to get WiFi extenders to ensure that every corner of your house is blanketed in high-speed goodness.
Sign #12: You’re a new parent, and you want to know what’s going on at all times. Smart devices are one of the biggest growing categories of baby gear. Thank god for that. From a smart video monitor with HD resolution to the ankle bracelet that shows your kid’s heartbeat in real time, even newborns are taking up bandwidth nowadays. Make sure there’s enough left over for you to log on to your favorite virtual world while keeping an eye on your (hopefully) soundly sleeping kid.
Sign #13: You’re the life of the party. It’s great to have the party house — the hub where people feel free to come and go. But they’re going to ask to get online when they come over, and even if you share your router’s private hotspot they’ll still be using valuable bandwidth. This is doubly true when your kids’ friends and their devices come over for a playdate or a sleepover. The bottom line is that a packed house with slow Internet is a great way to feel like you’re back in the days of dial-up. Don’t let it happen.
Sign #14: You have lots of relatives relatively close. Your parents and in-laws and aunt and uncle and cousins live nearby. The good news is that you have lots of help with child care. The bad news is that when they come over everyone is going to want to log on to share pictures and videos of your kid. A fast Internet connection can help you avoid a familial photographic bottleneck and, crucially, eliminate a source of family tension.
Sign #15: You work from home. Working from home is amazing. It eliminates commutes and lets you work in your pj’s. It’s also a godsend for parents, as it comes with the flexibility to take care of the kids while getting work done. It’s also bandwidth-intensive, as video calls into meetings and screen sharing collaborations become integral parts of the workday. Don’t waste your professional reputation (and your colleagues’ time) on the dropped calls and choppy audio that come with a network that can’t handle the workload. Because once you’ve lived the work-from-home life, going back to the office every day is painful.
Sign #16: You’re a working parent. As a working parent, there’s nothing more valuable than sleep, but that’s a problem when the prestige drama that everyone is talking about airs late on Sunday nights. The solution: Go to bed at a reasonable hour, start your week well-rested, and catch up on Monday evening. Of course, this plan only works if you can stream video at high resolutions even while your kids work on their homework or — only if they’re done! — chat with friends, play games, and stay up to date on all the latest memes. If your Internet connection isn’t up to the task, you will suffer and your kids will get frustrated and want to bug you while you finally get caught up. Don’t let it happen.
Sign #17: You’re a film buff. Real movie fans want the most cinematic experience possible in every situation. That means the family flick you project on the back wall of the house during the summer should be bigger — and clearer — than life. It also means that when the kid is away at a sleepover, the remixed and remastered version of the classic foreign film that finally hit streaming looks even better than it did when it was first released. It won’t buy candy or make popcorn, but high-speed Internet will ensure the visual and audio parts of your movie-watching experience are perfect.