How much broadband do I need for Netflix?
You'll need a reliable connection to reduce issues when you're streaming.
Streaming services are becoming more and more popular all the time, with many people even ditching their traditional TV packages altogether in favour of a subscription to the likes of Netflix or NOW TV.
This could be a great money-saving option, but before you cancel your TV package, you’ll need to make sure you have a decent internet connection so you’re not stuck facing the dreaded buffering when you’d rather be binge-watching.
What broadband speed and download allowance do I need for streaming?
The speed and download allowance you’ll need will depend on which service you use, and whether you’re watching in standard definition or prefer to watch in HD.
|Streaming service||Broadband speed required||Data used|
|Netflix||3Mbps for SD, 5Mbps for HD||1GB/hr for SD, 3GB/hr for HD|
|NOW TV||At least 2.5Mbps||Approx 1GB/hr|
|Hayu||2Mbps is recommended||Approx 1GB/hr|
|Amazon Prime Video||1Mbps for SD, 3.5Mbps for HD||1GB/hr for SD, 2GB/hr for HD|
As you can see, streaming in HD will require significantly higher speeds, and will also eat up much more of your precious data per month - so if you don’t have an unlimited plan, you’ll need to keep an eye on this.
How can I reduce buffering issues?
If buffering is ruining your streaming experience, there are a few things you can do.
- Try connecting your streaming device directly to your modem, rather than connecting via WiFi. This should improve the speed you get and dramatically cut down on buffering issues.
- If you can’t connect directly, you could improve your WiFi connection by making sure the router is not encased in a cabinet or near devices that could interfere with it - like microwaves, baby monitors or cordless phones - and moving the router into the room where you stream to ensure a strong signal.
- Restart your modem - this can ‘refresh’ your connection to your broadband provider and may improve WiFi performance.
On top of this, since watching in HD or UHD needs higher speeds than SD viewing, making sure your settings play on SD by default can also be a big help.
How can I reduce the data I use while streaming?
If you currently stream in the highest available quality - be that HD, or even UHD - the simple answer to this is that you can significantly reduce your data usage by watching in SD instead.
In terms of data usage, you can watch up to three hours of content in SD for every one you watch in HD, so it’s a no-brainer.
I don’t stream yet - what’s available in Ireland?
- Netflix offers a huge catalogue of movies, TV shows and documentaries, and has some of the best original programming around. You can sign up for a month’s free trial and after that there are three plans to choose from - Basic, Standard and Premium - depending on how many people in your household want to stream Netflix content at once, and whether you want to watch view in SD, HD or UHD. Prices range from €7.99 to €13.99 per month.
- NOW TV is the streaming service from Sky. There are three main Passes available for NOW TV, depending on whether you want access to entertainment, cinema or sports. You can try the Entertainment and Sky Cinema passes free for two weeks, but there’s no trial available on the Sports Pass. However, NOW TV regularly run discount offers on Passes, so it’s worth keeping an eye on this.
- Amazon Prime Video hasn’t really taken off here yet, but content is starting to improve, so we may see more people signing up. You can sign up for a week-long Prime Video free trial, and after the trial period it will cost you €2.99 per month for the first six months, and €5.99 per month after that.
- hayu is a little more niche than the other streaming sites, as it specialises in reality TV. It has over 3,000 episodes of shows like Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and many shows are available on the same day as the U.S. You can get a one-month free trial of hayu, and after that it’ll set you back €4.99 per month.
Stuck with slow broadband?
If you’ve currently got slower broadband than you’d like at home, it might be time to shop around for a new deal.
There are faster speeds rolling out in areas across the country all the time, so if you haven’t compared plans in a while, you might be surprised at what’s available. You’ll also usually get a nice introductory discount when you sign up with a new provider!