Internet speed mobile

How to Choose the Right Mobile Internet Connection Speed

October 16, 2023 - Ralf Beyeler

Find all the information you need to pick the Swiss mobile plan with the right Internet speed for your needs in this guide.

How fast are the data connections that come with Swiss mobile plans?

The different mobile plans from Swiss mobile services providers each have a set maximum speed for data. Some mobile plans and prepaid offers have slower Internet speeds, while others have faster Internet speeds.

Differences in the Internet speeds of different plans are huge. The plans with the slowest data connections deliver speeds of just several Mbps, while the plans with the fastest data deliver speeds up to 2 Gbps. In every case, the listed data connection speed is the maximum speed, and in practice the connection seldom reaches that speed.

Where do I find a mobile plan’s data connection speed?

The unbiased Swiss mobile plan comparison on clearly shows the maximum Internet speed of each mobile plan and prepaid offer.

In addition to information about the network used (Salt, Sunrise, Swisscom), the data download and upload speeds are also listed for each offer (upstream speeds for offers which use the Salt network are not included because Salt does not publish this information).

Do mobile plans have faster Internet than prepaid mobile offers?

Both mobile plans and prepaid mobile may have high-speed or low-speed Internet, depending on the offer.

Some mobile service providers offer higher-speed Internet with more expensive mobile plans than with cheaper offers.

Are there mobile plans with high data allowances but low Internet speeds?

Yes. There are Swiss mobile plans and prepaid offers which give you large volumes of data, but have slow data connections. However, this combination is not common.

The mobile plan comparison shows the download and upload speeds of each offer. If fast Internet is important to you, then pay attention to Internet speeds when comparing mobile plans or prepaid mobile offers.

Is there a rule of thumb for choosing mobile data speeds?

An Internet speed of 30 Mbps is currently sufficient for most mobile users. Most Swiss mobile plans have maximum Internet speeds which are higher than that.

But there are exceptions which only offer low Internet speeds (15 Mpbs for downloads, for example). If having a fast Internet access is important to you, then these offers are not a good fit.

Which Internet speeds do different mobile services need?

Different apps and services have different bandwidth requirements. Here are some key examples:

  • Text messages (like WhatsApp) work find with very slow Internet connections (as slow as 0.05 Mbps). The same applies to emails without large attachments.
  • Viewing text-based websites (like Wikipedia) and using search engines (like Google) do not require a fast connection.
  • Using map services (like Google Maps) consumes larger volumes of data, but works find with very little bandwidth. In other words, mobile Internet speed is not hugely relevant for using Google Maps or other map applications.
  • Streaming music (using Spotify, for example) typically requires between 0.06 and 0.4 Mbps.
  • Streaming videos (Netflix, media libraries, TikTok, etc.) requires more bandwidth. Ideally you should have an Internet connection speed of between 5 and 10 Mbps if you want to stream in HD quality.
  • Streaming videos in 4K/UHD quality requires high Internet speeds. Depending on the video format, your connection should ideally deliver between 25 and 60 Mbps per video being streamed through your mobile connection.

Which Internet speed should I have if I use my mobile connection as an Internet hotspot?

An increasing number of households are forfeiting fixed home Internet connections and connecting their devices to the Internet using their mobile data connection instead. This generally only works well if the mobile reception in your home is satisfactory. Mobile data connections are also generally less stable than fixed home Internet connections. For these reasons, telecom expert Ralf Beyeler generally recommends against trying to use mobile data as a replacement for line-based home Internet connections.

If you want to use your mobile plan for home Internet, make sure to use a plan which gives you unlimited Internet for a flat fee. Mobile plans with data connection speeds of 30 Mbps are generally sufficient. However, even a fast mobile Internet connection will not benefit you if your home has poor network reception.

Tip: You can find more information in the guide to mobile hotspots.

Which Internet speed do I need if I want to connect my laptop while traveling?

Many business people use their mobile phone as a hotspot to connect their laptop to the Internet while traveling.

Applications which do not require constant Internet access generally work fine with minimal bandwidth. Examples of such applications include replying to emails and working with data which is stored on the computer (Word, Excel or Powerpoint files, for example).

A download speed of 30 Mbps is generally sufficient to use cloud-based services and to access employer networks via VPN.

If you use video conferencing, you should get a mobile plan with a minimum Internet connection speed of 10 Mbps.

Some professions necessitate the frequent transfer of very large amounts of data. The rule in this case is: the faster the plan, the better. If you are a photographer, architect or video journalist, you may fall into this category.

How long does it take to download files to my phone?

In order to be able to estimate the time required to download or upload a file, you need to know the data connection speed and the size of the file. If you have that information, you can use the download calculator on to find the download time or data volume per time unit.

Make sure to account for the fact that the effective Internet speed is normally a lot slower than the maximum data speed published by your mobile service provider. Speeds of 50 to 100 Mbps are realistic for calculations, assuming your connection’s maximum bandwidth exceeds those speeds.

How important is the upload speed?

The upload speeds of mobile data connections are significantly slower than their download speeds.

Slow upload speeds are particularly problematic for mobile users who frequently upload videos or participate in video calls.

On the other hand, if you only use your connection to send emails or to share photos via messaging apps like WhatsApp, having a fast Internet connection is not a must. However, if your connection has a slow upload speed, you will have to wait longer before data is transferred.

Do Internet speeds also apply to roaming?

No. The speeds published by mobile service providers are the mobile plans’ maximum speeds applicable to mobile data in Switzerland.

There is no way to clearly define Internet speeds for data roaming.

Tip: If you are not satisfied with Internet speeds while traveling, try manually connecting the phone to a different mobile network in the network settings. Try all of the local networks to see which one gives you the fastest Internet speed.

In many countries, mobile networks are not as developed as those in Switzerland. In these cases, the maximum Internet speeds available may be relatively slow. German mobile networks, for example, are known for gaps in data coverage.

Are the Internet speeds published by mobile service providers correct?

The Internet speed advertised by a service provider for a mobile plan indicates the maximum Internet speed achievable with that mobile plan. In practice, the effective data connection speed is often slower than the advertised speed. This is especially true for mobile plans with advertised Internet speeds of 100 Mbps or more. Mobile data connection experience much bigger fluctuations in bandwidth than line-based Internet connections do.

There are many factors which affect mobile data connection speeds in addition to the mobile plan used. These include network coverage (the locations of antennas), network quality, the network load (how many data users near you are using the network), and which phone you use.

How fast is my mobile plan?

You can check the Internet speed of your mobile plan by asking your telecom service provider. Alternatively, you can find your mobile plan and its Internet speed using the mobile plan connection. Note that the advertised Internet speed is the maximum Internet speed your mobile plan is allowed to achieve. In practice, the effective Internet speed will be substantially lower.

You can find the actual Internet speed on various speed test websites or using special apps. If you want to measure the speed of your mobile Internet connection, make sure that you are connected to the Internet via your mobile connection only at the time (and not to a WLAN). Mobile data connection speeds can vary sharply depending on your location and the network load.

Does my mobile plan’s Internet speed affect WLAN Internet use?

No. When you connect to the Internet via WLAN, the speed of the line-based Internet connection determines your Internet speed. If you use online applications on your phone while it is connected to your home or office Wi-Fi network, only the speed of your home or office Internet connection is relevant.

Is mobile Internet comparable to home Internet?

In principle, the bandwidth required for different applications is the same whether you used line-based or mobile Internet. But many apps transfer less data over mobile data connections than over WLAN connections.

Another difference is that mobile connections are subject to much bigger bandwidth fluctuations than line-based Internet connections.

Larger households in particular should understand that the bandwidth of an Internet connection is shared by all users. You generally need more bandwidth to provide multiple devices with Internet simultaneously than is necessary for a single mobile phone user.

More on this topic:
Compare Swiss mobile plans and prepaid mobile offers (including Internet speeds)
How fast should my home Internet connection be?

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Expert Ralf Beyeler
Ralf Beyeler is the telecom expert at and also covers other areas of personal finance.
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