More people stream content than ever before, and video and audio streaming are now incredibly influential in determining what gets produced and what doesn’t.
But how much do you know about the streaming medium? Do you know how fast your broadband connection needs to be for a seamless experience? Do you know why playback keeps pausing and stuttering?
By the end of this post, you’ll know all those things and more!
What speed broadband should I get?
You don’t actually need a particularly fast connection to enjoy the small screen experience.
Most streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ will all work with ADSL or slower fibre broadband.
According to Netflix, you need:
- 1Mbps for standard definition playback
- 3Mbps for high-definition playback at 720p
- 5Mbps for high-definition playback at 1080p
- 15Mbps for 4K playback
As long as there’s nobody else using your broadband at the same time, even a slow connection can deliver a great streaming experience.
However, if you live in a larger household with more internet users, faster broadband would provide a much more predictable experience.
That’s especially true if more than one person is streaming at one time or you have gamers or home workers in your household.
You’ll also need faster broadband if you want to stream the highest quality.
What speed do I need for 4k streaming?
I covered what speed you need for 4K streaming for Netflix, but what about the other streaming services?
Each streaming service has its own minimum speed recommendations for 4K playback:
- 30Mpbs for BT Sport
- 20Mbps for YouTube at 4K
- 25Mbps for Disney+
- 25Mbps for Apple TV+
- 25Mbps for Amazon Prime
- 15Mbps for Netflix
That figure is per stream. If you have more people streaming at once, you’ll need more speed, especially if you’re all watching at 4K.
For example, if two people in your household are separately streaming Netflix at 4K, you’ll need at least 30Mbps.
Remember, these are minimum speeds for streaming. If others are also using the internet for other things at the same time, you’ll need more.
Essentially, if you live in a household of heavy internet users, the faster your broadband, the better!
Why is my streaming service buffering?
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Even the fastest broadband connection may stutter every now and then and that’s normal.
However, if you regularly see stuttering on your streams, there may be something else going on.<
Check the following possible causes:
Check for issues with the streaming service
Your first check should be with the streaming service itself. Try watching a different movie or TV show as it could be the content. Check to see if other streaming services are slowing down too.
Check your provider’s website to check service status. They may be having an engineering issue or outage.
- If another show works fine, it may be the content you’re watching is very popular.
- If another streaming service works fine, it may be the provider.
If none of those work, try one of these other checks.
Do you have fast enough broadband?
This is the second most obvious cause of buffering while streaming. Now you know the minimum speeds for 4K viewing, make sure your broadband is up to speed.
If not, consider HD streaming instead. It’s still a credible small screen experience.
Check for issues in the area
Another key reason for streaming buffering is an outage or engineering works on your connection.
Check with your provider first. They will have a service status page on their website which should give you an idea.
Weak Wi-Fi signal
If you use Wi-Fi to stream, you’re going to need a very strong signal for 4K and a fairly strong signal for HD streaming.
Check the signal strength on your device. Is it strong enough? Does it keep dropping out?
If the answer is yes, you have options.
- Move the router close to the centre of the property to hopefully provide a stronger signal.
- Buy a signal booster to extend the Wi-Fi signal further and make it stronger.
- Use a mesh kit to create a seamless network throughout your home.
Moving the router may help it provider a stronger signal throughout the property but may be limited by the cable.
Buying a signal booster is cheap and easy but can be fiddly to set up.
Using a mesh kit should provide a seamless network throughout the property but is the most expensive option.
Lower the quality
If everything looks to be working fine but you’re still buffering, lower the stream quality temporarily.
It’s less than ideal but should still let you stream without too much interruption.
Some streaming services will do this for you automatically, although there may be instances where it doesn’t adjust properly and you might need to step in.
Streaming and broadband
I tend to recommend getting the fastest broadband connection available or that you can afford. That way, you have all the bandwidth you need to do whatever it is you want to do.
Otherwise, buy the broadband that gives you enough to stream at your desired quality plus a little extra.
If your current provider cannot deliver a reliable service, complain to them and switch if they can’t fix the issue. There are heaps of free broadband comparison services available such as broadband.co.uk that show the deals available in your area.
You have a 14-day cooling-off period if you switch and change your mind, so there’s nothing to lose!
What do you make of this story? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages! And if you enjoy listening to film podcasts, why not check out our podcast, The Small Screen Podcast, wherever you get your podcasts!