More and more people are opting out of paying for cable TV and satellite TV. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime TV, Sling, and YouTube TV are making it easier to view the same programs for a fraction of the cost. With so many services offering videos, there's an increase in demand for internet providers that offer a faster internet connection. But how much speed do you actually need to stream?
YouTube is currently (in 2019) receiving 300 hours of video uploaded to their site every minute (up from 72 hours per minute in 2014). People are watching content online and streaming data now more than ever. If you want to stream videos online without frustration and low quality issues, you need a fast internet connection. But which ISP or type of connection is the best for streaming?
The most important factor for uninterrupted high-quality streaming is fast speeds and plenty of data allowance. In order to stream successfully, you'll need a speed of at least 500 Kbps according to YouTube, but speaking from personal experience, any speed less than 12 Mbps will result in reduced video quality and "buffering" or downgraded quality at times. The problem with most speed recommendations for streaming services is they do not take into account the fact that you will connect more than one device to your internet connection. In other words, you're going to share your home internet speed between your mobile phone, laptop, desktop computer, TV, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick, tablet, and smart home devices. This means if you have 5 Mbps shared between 5-10 active devices, your effective internet speed will not meet the minimum requirements for streaming, but more importantly, you're going to have a hard time doing anything online.
Although, from personal experience, 12 Mbps is enough for streaming, you'll be better off with the FCC defined Broadband speeds of 25 Mbps or more. With 25 Mbps, you'll have twice the amount we feel is the actual minimum required for streaming, which allows for uninterrupted streaming on 2 or more devices.
Here are the best internet connections for streaming:
The current award for best internet connection for streaming goes to fiber internet, with AT&T and Frontier offering the most widely available fiber options. According to Netflix, which accounts for roughly 15 percent of Global Internet traffic; Verizon's FiOS service is the fastest streaming service available, running at about 4.58 Mbps on average for Netflix's servers in the US as of March 2019.
Fiber Internet services are not available everywhere. Fiber is the fastest streaming service available, but might not be an option for you. Cable providers like Spectrum and Xfinity are great second options.
Cable internet provides fast streaming rates, just over 4 Mbps according to Netflix's Speed Index, and just behind Fiber connection types. The cost of cable is typically higher than DSL, but provides faster speeds up to 1 Gbps. Cable providers are very popular, as they provide great speeds that allow for good streaming without a lot of buffering.
There have been some improvements in DSL service, bumping the theoretical speeds to just under 100 Mbps. In reality, however, you won't get this much because of the physical infrastructure used to provide service.
DSL is transmitted using copper phone lines and the signal quality decreases over distance. So the further you are away from the phone company's signal source, the worse your speed will be. The average streaming rate for DSL is about the same rate you'd need to stream Netflix without getting frustrated - around 3 Mbps once connected to Netflix.
4. Fixed Wireless and Satellite
According to Netflix, fixed wireless internet connections are better at streaming than satellite. You will need to keep an eye on your data allowances and won't be able to freely stream all day, every day.
If you're still stuck on dial-up because you live in rural America and for some reason do not have access to a wireless internet connection like satellite or fixed wireless, then we assume you have the patience of a saint or don't do much streaming.
Video Quality Report
To find out which Internet provider in your area is best for YouTube, check out Google's Video Quality Report. The report shows whether your current provider is "YouTube HD Verified" and you can compare provider in your area. Choose an HD verified provider if it is available in your area.
Test Your Speed
If you already have an Internet connection and want to check your current speed and figure out whether upgrading or changing providers would be best for streaming, visit Netflix's Fast.com speed test. If your speed is below 10 Mbps, consider searching for a better connection for streaming from Internet providers on InMyArea.com.