Recommended Speed for Streaming Netflixby Dan Ketchum
During peak usage hours in North America, Netflix accounts for about 35 percent of all downstream Internet traffic, according to 2014 data from Sandvine. Netflix's popularity partially explains this enormous figure -- during the same period, about 32 percent of Americans subscribed to the service -- but the app is also quite bandwidth hungry. It takes a hefty download speed to stream high-definition video content; a dial-up modem won't cut it.
In order to play Netflix at all, you must have a broadband connection speed of 0.5 megabits per second. **Netflix recommends a speed of 1.5 Mbps.** However, neither of these speeds guarantee standard-definition quality. If your speed is below 3.0 Mbps, you may experience substandard streaming video quality, characterized by pixelation and blurriness. These figures reflect your download speed; your upload speed has no direct impact on Netflix usage.
The Faster The Better
While download speeds of 3.0 Mbps have you covered for standard-def viewing, Netflix offers some content in high-definition, depending on your subscription level. **To view content at a resolution of 720p or greater, the company recommends a broadband connection speed of at least 5.0 Mbps.** Netflix offers selected content in Ultra HD, tailored for 4K televisions. Streaming at this resolution requires download speeds of 25 Mbps or higher.
If you sign in to Netflix.com and access the “Playback settings” section of your profile, you can customize the service's data usage. The “Auto” setting automatically adjusts usage based on your connection, while “Low,” “Medium” and “High” quality settings range in usage from 0.3 gigabytes to 3 GB per hour, or up to 7 GB for Ultra HD content. The lower the data usage, however, the lower the video quality. Factors such as the number of devices sharing your Internet connection and the quality of wiring or the wireless standard you use also have an effect, as does the time of day -- Netflix sometimes streams slower or features lower quality during peak viewing hours.
The Test and The Rest
If you're curious about the viewing experience you might have with a Netflix subscription, you can check your download speeds using a free online test, such as [Ookla Speedtest](http://www.speedtest.net/). You can also use Netflix itself, by searching for and viewing the short film titled “Example Short 23.976,” which displays your video streaming speed and the resolution of your stream on the fly. To use the Netflix app on a computer, you'll need, at minimum, Windows XP or Mac OS X Tiger. Additionally, Netflix requires a browser with HTML 5, Silverlight 4 or Silverlight 5 plugins, present on browsers such as Internet Explorer 11, Safari on Mac OS X 10.1 and Google Chrome version 37 or later.
- link Variety: Netflix Streaming Eats Up 35% of Downstream Internet Traffic: Study
- link Adweek: Finally, Some Actual Netflix Viewer Data
- link Netflix: Internet Connection Speed Recommendations
- link Netflix: Streaming Netflix in HD
- link Netflix: Can I Stream in Ultra HD?
- link Netflix: How Can I Control How Much Data Netflix Uses?
- link Verizon: Internet Speed Factors
- link USA Today: Three Netflix Secrets You Need to Know
- photo_camera Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images News/Getty Images