What Internet Speed do I need for Streaming?

internet speed for streaming

The only thing worse than power going out when streaming a top show is buffering. Admit it. You hate it when episodes stop loading because your connection is not up to speed. Changing the video quality from 4K to HD or to SD can help resolve this problem, but it comes at the expense of lower quality.

So, what’s the solution? How much Internet speed do you need to stream shows seamlessly?

Netflix

The minimum Internet speed for streaming an HD quality movie is 3Mb/s. If you have anything less impressive than that, you can’t avoid buffering. To watch shows in a standard quality 480p format, Netflix suggests that you have at least 3Mb/s of Internet speed.

For HD viewing, which starts at 720P, a speed of 4Mbps is required. This also works with full HD (1080p) although a speed of 5Mpbs improves your viewing experience. To stream movies on 4K quality, have an Internet speed of at least 15Mpbs. For better viewing, make sure your speed hits 25Mbps or more.

Hulu Recommendations

Hulu is a popular Netflix alternative and contains lots of great shows. You can watch new episodes of many TV shows here for example. Hulu also avails a wide array of originals not available on Netflix and other services.

Either way, you only need an Internet speed of 1.5Mbps to stream shows on Hulu in a standard format. You need 3Mbps for high-definition and 6Mpbs for full HD. Hulu doesn’t believe you need an expensive plan to stream in 4k and has a recommendation of 13Mbps for Ultra HD videos.

Of course, the better your Internet speeds the better your streaming experience. But if Hulu’s word is to go by, you can save money by not purchasing the fastest plan and still manage to watch Hulu shows in HD quality.

Amazon Video

Amazon is another great streaming alternative for online TV viewing. Its Internet speed recommendations don’t vary very much from those offered by Hulu and Netflix. A 1.5Mbps speed is recommended to watch shows in standard definition format.

When it comes to HD and full HD viewing, Amazon recommends a standard 3.5Mbps streaming speed. You can still watch HD movies with a speed of 3Mbps but Amazon’s recommendation is to help stream full HD shows in a better format. Amazon’s recommendation for 4K viewing is an Internet connection of 15Mbps, the same as Netflix.

Vudu

Vudu is not as popular as Amazon or Netflix but it lets you stream shows or rent movies for a number of days. It has the least Internet speed suggestion. According to the company, you only require an Internet speed of 1-2Mbps to watch videos in SD format.

It commends a speed of 2.3Mbps or more for HD but a much higher speed (4.5Mbs) for full HD viewing.  Vudu’s ideal speed for watching 3-D movies is 9Mbps and 11Mbps or more for Ultra HD streams.

YouTube

If you regularly stream YouTube’s HD videos, your Internet speed is probably faster than 2.5Mbps. YouTube doesn’t make a suggestion about viewing SD, but if your connectivity supports HD viewing, you can also watch standard quality videos.

Available Internet Speeds

Internet connection plans vary widely depending on which state you live in. In rural, areas many plans provide a connection of 10Mbps or less. But considering only a minimum of 5Mbps is required to stream shows in full HD, it’s better than nothing.

In cities and suburbs, you have the widest variety to connectivity plans. You could get a $25/month plan capped at 25Mbps or a 100Mbps plan at a higher price. The fastest plans come from the Valley, with Google Fiber offering speeds as high as 1Gbps.

Anything between 25Mbps and 900Mbs will fulfill all your streaming needs. Whether you’ll be streaming video games or downloading files, that’s the best range for Internet speeds. If you are a Twitch streamer or a YouTuber, take note of upload speeds also.

You need a connection with fast uploads. If you stream SD quality videos, a stream speed of between 0.4Mbps and 1.5Mbps will probably be enough. Most streamers and viewers prefer HD or 1080p videos. For these, you need a connection with speeds between 2.5Mbps and 5Mbps. Of course, this also depends on your frame rate. The faster the frame rate, the higher the upload Mbps you need.

Things that Affect Streaming Speed

Subscribing to a fast Internet connectivity plan does not necessarily result in fast streaming speeds. If your router or modem is old and rusty, expect slow speeds. It could also be a problem with your WiFi’s signal or the quality of your laptop.

Again, people who share their network bandwidth experience slow streaming speeds compared to those who use their bandwidth alone. If you plan to buy your bandwidth to be used for your family, make sure you buy a plan with fast speeds.

A connectivity plan of 10Mbps, when shared by four people at the same time, is reduced to 2.5Mpbs for everyone. Of course, if only one person is streaming while the rest are browsing social networks the person streaming can still enjoy great speeds. But if everyone starts to stream and play online video games, their experience goes down drastically.

Ping Time for Video Game Streaming

Having fast Internet connections is important for both downloads and uploads. However, you also need a quick ping time to ensure you never experience prohibitive latency. Most gamers avoid Satellite Internet connections because of their high latency and slow ping times.

Satellite Internet involves making connections with distant sources. While this doesn’t affect movie streaming, it affects gaming. Ethernet, on the other hand, makes communications locally.

Bottom Line

When streaming movies, pick fast Internet options but not necessarily the fastest. Top streaming networks like Netflix suggest speeds of 25Mbps or less for 4K viewing. For HD streaming, even 5Mbps will be enough bandwidth for you.

When it comes to video game streaming, more bandwidth is required. Problems with latency and the high bandwidth demand mean you can’t rely on 5mbps to stream games efficiently. You need a faster plan, probably one with 30Mbps or more.

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