If you’re comparing internet options around Los Angeles, you’re probably wondering what the average speed of the internet is locally and what kind of speed is considered normal.
In this article, I’ll cover the speeds available to most Los Angeles homes and apartments; the average network performance within city limits; and what speeds the average buyer should consider.
Normal advertised internet speeds in Los Angeles
100–200 Mbps is a normal speed range for entry-level internet plans in Los Angeles. Spectrum’s 200 Mbps plan is one of the cheapest and most common choices, usually competing with 50–100 Mbps plans from AT&T. That said, A few LA neighborhoods including Silverlake and the Arts District have 1,000 Mbps speeds from AT&T Fiber.
If you’re trying to decide on a decent internet speed, 100 Mbps is sufficient for the majority of homes and apartments. However 1,000 Mbps “gigabit” fiber is often equivalent in price, if you’re lucky enough to have fiber available at your location. In general, fiber is available in denser areas like DTLA or wealthier neighborhoods like the West Hollywood/Beverly Hills area.
In most cases, I’ll recommend you go ahead and get fiber if it’s available — AT&T recently dropped data caps and year-long contract requirements for fiber plans, making them extra competitive against Spectrum.
Average Speed test result in Los Angeles
Regardless of the service speed advertised, what is the average internet speed in Los Angeles? In terms of actual speed once service is installed, the major speed test data sources like Measurement Labs and Speedtest.net suggest an average speed of around 50 Mbps in Los Angeles overall. In fact, the last 12 months of Measurement Labs tests at the time of this article was exactly 50.01 Mbps.
This is about twice as fast as the global average, though the average internet speed in the USA as a whole is surprisingly quite high at 60–90 Mbps depending on the test source and criteria.
In general, I recommend taking these test results with a grain of salt as they measure people’s WiFi performance as well as the internet connection. WiFi speeds can be dramatically lower than the actual wired internet connection at an address, since the connection is shared over the air rather than wired in directly to the source.
Additionally, people running speed tests are commonly troubleshooting local network — resulting in a large amount of tests that have more to do with bad routers than bad internet connections.
How Do You Measure Internet Speed?
Before we start with Los Angeles, it’s probably important to explain how internet speeds are measured so that you can get a feel for the numbers.
Internet speeds have come a long way in a relatively short period of time. It’s not so long ago that the speed of your connection was measured in Kilobits. A bit is a single unit of data and a Kilobit is 1,024 bits.
For an Internet connection to be considered to be “broadband” it needs to be capable of delivering 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. 1 The term “broadband” has fallen out of favor in common use, but is still used as a technical definition by government bodies.
It is important not to confused bits with bytes. When you buy memory or a hard drive for your computer you will buy things measured in kilobytes, megabytes, terabytes, etc. A byte is 8 bits.
- Internet speeds are measured in bits per second.
- Files sizes, storage, data usage, and etc are measured in Bytes.
This is why it’s common to see a connection advertised as “10 Megabits per Second,” perhaps with a “250 GigaBytes per month data use limit.”
The modern Internet connection is generally measured in Megabits and the figures quoted by internet providers for speed is given as Mbps or Megabits per second. However, we are not far from the time when speeds may be quoted in Gigabits or Gbps and, in fact, as we’ll see – there are already some Gigabit connections available in Los Angeles.
What Is A Normal Internet Speed In Los Angeles?
When we talk about a “normal internet speed” for Los Angeles, we’re really talking about an average speed. This number isn’t always helpful because:
- There are a lot of choices in Los Angeles for internet service and some have much higher potential speed than others.
- The speed you experience as a customer depends on the connection of your device to the router, and the capability of the modem and router to handle the speed delivered.
We’ve found that Measurement Labs, which provides Google’s speed test tool, shows an average speed of around 50 Mbps in Los Angeles. As mentioned, different speed tests use different criteria for measurement — I’ve seen credible speed test sources quote anywhere from 33 Mbps up to around 55 Mbps for the LA area average.
Speed measurement is a known issue in the internet industry, with industry reports commonly offering caveats around misleading figures. For example, research from nonprofit group IEEEXplore in 2015 showed that the numbers provided by a speed test could vary dramatically within the same household, on the same Internet connection or at different points during the day. 2
This means that while there is an “average internet speed in Los Angeles” according to a lot of sources, those sources are only a loose indicator of what you’ll experience at home. In fact, the only meaningful number for a user is likely to be the results of a speed test on their own line at a specific time and day.
What Is A Fast Internet Speed In Los Angeles?
The fastest advertised residential internet speed in Los Angeles is currently 1Gbps (1,000 Mbps). You can buy this from AT&T, though other providers will surely follow fairly quickly in offering similar packages.
Spectrum also offers a “gigabit” plan in most of LA clocking in at around 940 Mbps download. However, since it’s a cable line delivering service, the upload speed is only around 35 Mbps. On a true fiber to the home plan, the upload speed will match the download. In neighborhoods like Koreatown that only have Spectrum and AT&T for wired service, this can be a limiting factor for home offices and larger family homes that need a lot of upstream bandwidth.
Do You Need The Fastest Internet Speed?
We’ve been well conditioned by marketing companies to consider “fastest” and “best” to be synonymous and for a very long period of time, they were synonymous.
When people had 14.4Kbps modems and were offered 56.6Kbps modems, the difference in service felt meaningful. The same when they first introduced 10+ Mbps broadband services and mobile data.
However, this was because at that point in time – we had very large files compared to the size of our bandwidth. You could wait minutes for a photograph to download when internet speeds were measured in Kbps.
Even when speeds improved to where they were measured in Mbps, you could struggle to stream a short SD YouTube clip without it stopping and starting.
This isn’t the case anymore. The bandwidth has massively overtaken the amount of data that needs to be transferred for the average user. Netflix recommends just 25 Mbps download speed required to stream 4K video. That’s just 2.5% of the bandwidth offered by a gigabit plan.
To need a 1 Gbps Internet connection, you’d probably have to have a family of around 10 people all using the same connection at once with a couple of devices on the go, each. This isn’t how most people live.
The main benefit of a gigabit internet connection for most users is that it provides excess bandwidth so you never have to worry about “going over” when you pile on dozens of WiFi-connected gadgets and streaming stations to your WiFi network. Gigabit plans also tend to offer unlimited data use, which can be very useful for homes that consumer lots of TV content via Netflix, Hulu, etc.
What Internet Speed Would You Recommend In Los Angeles?
Assuming you have a healthy but not unlimited budget for your internet provision and that you want to play games, stream Netflix, and do a little work online — a 200 Mbps connection ought to be more than enough in Los Angeles.
That might sound like a lot less than 1 Gbps and that’s because it is. But it’s still four times the government’s standard for broadband internet, even if it’s a fifth of a fiber connection.
Our preferred provider for 200 Mbps service in Los Angeles is Spectrum. 200 Mbps is their base plan and they offer the best balance between service and cost that we’ve come across.
What Internet Speed Would You Recommend In Los Angeles On A Tight Budget?
If you can’t afford the Spectrum 200 Mbps plan, then you ought to look at subsidized plans from Spectrum. You may qualify for a 30 Mbps plan, which is still enough for the majority of home use — though you might find that you have occasional problems with uninterrupted streaming of video, especially for video chat.
To qualify for this plan, you (or one member of your household) must receive either the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the Supplemental Security Income (over 65s only) or the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) from the NSLP. If you are not on one of these programs, you won’t qualify for the subsidized plan.
If you do qualify they supply a free modem, a service with no data cap, and a $5/mo WiFi surcharge if you want to lease their equipment rather than buy your own.
If you don’t qualify then you might want to consider AT&T’s basic DSL plan which will give you speeds of 10-20 Mbps which is still acceptable (though streaming video will often be challenging). That’ll save you around $10-$20 a month compared to Spectrum.
That said, internet is frankly an essential service these days and if you can afford it, 200 Mbps is the way to go.
The Difference Between What You Get And What You Pay For
One thing that you may notice, no matter what you choose for your internet service in Los Angeles, is that you don’t get the full data throughput that was advertised when you run speed tests on your laptop.
That is your 200 Mbps line is delivering that bandwidth to your modem, then splitting it out to your various devices over ethernet and WiFi.
Internet speed on your device can be impacted by a host of factors, including but not limited to: the devices you’re using, the sites that you’re accessing, the cabling in your home, and more.
If you find that your service is consistently lower than half the advertised speed when tested via ethernet directly to the router or modem, you should contact your internet service provider for assistance troubleshooting where the bottleneck is.
Summary: Los Angeles has above-average normal internet speeds
Overall, the 50 Mbps average speed test in Los Angeles is decent and most cable or fiber customers are more likely to have issues with their router and cabling than with the service bandwidth itself.