Facebook has become the go-to social platform used by young and old alike to stay in touch with family and friends. It now boasts over a billion users worldwide. Recently, the social media giant introduced video chat for users, accessible directly from users’ Facebook accounts without the need to download additional software. For some, however, the experience has been less than optimal, leading to the question: What’s the ideal Internet speed for Facebook chat?


Video Chat Basics

There are two types of chat functions available for Facebook users: text and video. When you use Facebook, a small notification window typically appears at the bottom right of your screen, letting you know who’s online and available for text chat. Clicking on the window lets you select a friend and send a message. If you find this chat is lagging, you may have a problem with your Internet connection, or your router’s firewall may be blocking access to Facebook. If you’re on a wireless connection, check to make sure you have service; if you’re on a 3G or 4G network, make sure you aren’t out of data.

To access video chat, simply click on the small video camera icon next to your friend’s name. This will start a video call she can accept, even if she doesn’t have a video camera. In that case, you’ll be able to hear but not see your friend, though she’ll still see you if your camera is enabled. Facebook doesn’t charge for this service, but it does note on its support page that there are several caveats when using video chat. First, minimal setup is required, so if you’re calling a friend who’s never used the feature before, it may take a few moments to connect. In addition, not every computer is able to run Facebook video calling. If you’re running Windows 8.1, OS X 10.9 or Linux, Facebook video isn’t available. Fortunately, the service works with most popular Web browsers including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Internet Explorer (32 bit only).

Up to Speed

According to Facebook’s video calling Bugs and Known Issues page, some users experience difficulty connecting if their computer or connection is too slow. Facebook recommends an Intel Core 2Ghz or faster processor and at least 1 gigabyte (GB) of RAM. Netbooks are not recommended, as they often experience poor video performance. A slow Internet connection can be responsible for video chat problems. Download speed of at least 500 kilobytes per second (kbps) is recommended — this is the same as what Skype recommends for one-on-one video calling, and Facebook video chat uses a variant of Skype traffic. It’s worth noting that a similarly fast upload speed is also recommended, since you’re not just receiving video data during a chat but also sending the same amount of data in return. If you have high download but poor upload speed, your friend may have difficulty hearing or seeing your side of the chat. A free online speed test can help you determine if your Internet is running up to speed.

The best Internet speed for Facebook chat is the fastest you can manage under your budget — aim for at least 3 Mpbs download and 1 Mpbs upload. While basic requirements to use the service are minimal, you’ll experience quicker connections and higher quality calls with speedy Internet connections.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Paul Williams
Paul Williams

Paul Williams brings a wide range of experiences to his writing. He worked extensively in technology, as a software engineer, technical writer, and now a technology writer. Known as the leader of one of the top American Spacerock bands, his forward-looking music continues to be heard all over the world.