Streaming services like Netflix have entirely revolutionised the way we watch TV. Thanks to streaming, no longer do we have to wait all week for our favourite program. Instead, we can just log-on to Netflix whenever – and wherever – we want to watch. Though having all the best programs at the touch of a button might be the definition of convenience and entertainment; it means very little when your programming is interrupted by a freezing and buffering stream.
What are the Best Broadband Plans for Netflix?
You wouldn’t buy a Ferrari just to push it around Flintstones style, so why pair your streaming service with slow internet? Netflix’s extensive array of programs – and top quality resolution and sound – need a certain amount of internet speed in order to function correctly. If you want to get the most out of streaming services like Netflix, you’ll need to match it with a sufficient broadband plan. From getting the right data limit – i.e. unlimited! – to making sure you’ve got a fast-enough connection, read on to find out which Internet Service Provider (ISP) is right for you.
Why is speed important for Netflix?
Why is speed important for streaming? Hey – it’s all in the name! Netflix has some of the best quality programs available in Australia – but if you can’t stream them properly, then your streaming experience is sure to be frustrating. Making sure you have the right speed is absolutely essential for streaming. Speed will impact your stream quality in two different ways: through declining quality and through buffering/freezing – and in most cases, it will do both.
Netflix knows how vital speed is to the quality of their programming – which is why they’ve got a handy guide to show you minimum speeds required. The primary factor in determining the minimum speed will be the quality of the definition: standard, HD or Ultra HD.
|1.5 Mbps||Recommended broadband connection speed|
|3.0 Mbps||Recommended for SD quality|
|5.0 Mbps||Recommended for HD quality|
|25 Mbps||Recommended for Ultra HD quality|
How does speed affect streaming and downloading?
The impact of reduced internet speed is different for downloads and streaming – although in both cases, there will be a negative effect. If you’re streaming a Netflix show or movie, you’re effectively watching it at the same time it’s being downloaded. This means that slowdowns or buffering will result in the picture and sound quality getting worse – or the show freezing completely.
If you’re downloading a show, reduced speeds will simply mean the download takes longer. Completed downloads will be of the same quality – provided the connection hasn’t dropped or timed out.
How much data/ bandwidth does Netflix require?
The table produced by Netflix can be quite challenging to understand. The top provider – in this case, Telstra NBN broadband – advertises its top evening speed as being above 20 Mbps, but Netflix’s ranks them as only 4.72 Mbps. So how does this work?
Netflix comes up with their figure by cross-referencing it with their current users during prime time – rather than the advertised standard evening speeds. This means that the rates in the table below are the actual speed at which Netflix operates – which makes sense when you realise all the other operations taking place on your connection.
In effect, this is much more accurate than the self reported speeds from ISPs – particularly when it comes to streaming. Effectively, what this measurement tells you is which ISP has spent most of its backend infrastructure and who has configured it the best – giving you the ability to make a well-informed decision when it comes to picking your internet provider.
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What’s an ISP?
The language of tech and the internet can get a little challenging to understand – particularly when it comes to all the abbreviations and acronyms. ISP stands for Internet Service Provider.
Put simply – your ISP connects you to the internet. Generally speaking, this will be through your home phone line, connected to your computer, tablet, mobile or other devices either through a cable or Wi-Fi. Telstra, Optus, Aussie Broadband, Dodo, Exetel etc. – these are all examples of ISPs.
Last audited 14 September 2020
How fast is my internet – and how do I tell?
Internet speed is measured in bits – not to be confused with bytes which is a measurement of the size of a file. The more bits per second your provider can offer you, the quicker your connection can be. Most commonly you’ll see Mbps or more likely Mbps, which means Kilobits or Megabits per second. The higher the number, the faster your connection.
Netflix has set up a global testing site called fast.com, which gives you a real-time measure of your current internet speed in Mbps.
How do off/on-peak periods affect Netflix Streaming?
A great way to think about streaming speeds is to compare it with traffic. The ten-minute drive to work doesn’t take ten minutes at peak hour. Similarly, your ‘average’ internet speed might not matter so much in prime time, when everyone else is watching.
That’s why the number figure that ISPs advertise in many cases isn’t the most important. The ‘standard evening speed’ is a far more important figure, as it will show you how fast your connection will be at the time you need it most. Most Australian ISPs will advertise their standard evening speed – particularly if it’s something to be proud of!
It’s important not to confuse the above figure with that given by your ISP – or by Netflix – as their minimum, as this is given in relation to the overall self-reported number(i.e. to help you reference this with the speed advertised by providers). Therefore, the list as follows is the most accurate way to determine which is the best provider for streaming Netflix.
Who are the top five Internet providers in Australia?
Your internet speed depends on a variety of factors – from whether you’re NBN eligible to the location of your house and what time you get online. Unfortunately, a number of these factors are usually out of your control.
The main factor you can control, however, is your ISP.
Netflix provides a list of the fastest Aussie ISPs, according to Mbps, based on figures tallied by Netflix users in prime time on all devices.
Since providing customers with the monthly updated speed index, each of the providers has generally improved on their recent figures, demonstrating a determination by streaming services to continue improving and adjusting for the benefit of their customers.
1. Telstra NBN
Telstra NBN – the biggest name on the Aussie telecommunications landscape – come out on top in the up-to-date Netflix rankings, with a speed of 4.72 Mbps. Telstra NBN also offers four of the five types of internet connection – fibre, cable, DSL and wireless, but not satellite. If that’s not enough, they also now offer first month of Foxtel Now and three months of BINGE free across all their home internet plans and bundles.
Telstra Internet Plans + Bundles
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2. Optus NBN
In second place is probably the second-biggest name in Aussie telecommunications: Optus NBN. Their speed runs at 4.65 Mbps. Like Telstra NBN, they offer four of the five types of internet connection – fibre, cable, DSL and wireless, but not satellite.
3. Aussie Broadband
In third place is Aussie Broadband, who boasts a speed of 4.55 Mbps.
Aussie Broadband recently moved from fourth place after improving their previous Mbps rate. Like Telstra NBN and Optus NBN, they offer four of the five types of internet connection – fibre, cable, DSL and wireless, but not satellite.
4. iiNet NBN
In fourth place is iiNet NBN, who dropped back in the pack slightly after being overtaken by Aussie Broadband recently. That said, iiNet NBN’s speed of 4.52 Mbps is still excellent – as is each provider on this list.
iiNet NBN offers fibre, cable and DSL but not satellite and wireless.
5. TPG NBN
Last but not least is TPG NBN. TPG’s speed is just a tick under that of iiNet NBN at 4.49 Mbps. TPG NBN is the only provider in the top five to offer every type of internet connectivity: fibre, cable, DSL, wireless and satellite.
Summary: Picking the best provider for streaming your Netflix
Picking the best provider for crisp, uninterrupted Netflix streaming comes down to a range of factors. From the location of your home to the telecommunications needs of your household, there are a number of things to consider. The best way to check your internet speed is to use Netflix’s regularly-updated list – rather than the speed rate given by your provider. From there you can make a choice as to which internet provider is right for you and your Netflix needs.
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