If you’re thinking about switching your internet provider – or signing up for a package for the first time – then the choice of carriers and plans available may seem overwhelming. If you are using your internet connection to regularly stream shows and movies, then taking a few extra considerations into account can help you to make the best choice for your needs.
More and more households are choosing to access their home entertainment via streaming, so ensuring that the carrier you sign up with can fully support this is essential. Use the simple guide below to help.
What is Streaming?
Streaming is a way to access video and audio content without needing to download anything. As it relies on information that is received and sent over the internet, streaming requires data; this means that congestion and other issues can slow your speed and create issues with buffering, which can negatively impact your viewing experience.
So, the connection speed will be a key consideration if you want to use your internet for streaming shows and movies. If your speeds are too low, you could encounter buffering.
To give you an idea of the speeds that you’ll need to enjoy a seamless viewing experience, for a single HD stream on one or two devices, you should look for providers offering speeds of no less than 25Mbps, while for multiple HD streams and gaming on up to four different devices you’ll need about 100Mbps to keep everyone happy. If you’re a super streaming household wanting multiple HD/4K streaming plus file uploading on multiple devices, then you’ll probably need about 1,000Mbps to keep everything running smoothly.
The majority of streaming platforms don’t require connection speeds higher than 25Mbps, while audio requires much less than this.
Internet Connection Types
The nature of the internet connection the carrier provides will affect your ability to stream shows and movies.
DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line and was formerly widely regarded as the standard type of internet connection. It operates over telephone lines but, unlike old-school dial connections, is nowhere near as slow, and calls can also be made and received while an internet connection is active. DSL speeds tend to range between 50 – 100Mbps.
Cable offers faster speeds than DSL, which can be as high as 1,000Mbps. To connect, cable uses existing cable tv coaxial lines to communicate data. Modern upgrades to cable connections have enabled providers to offer a range of packages for a range of prices.
Fiber Optic transfers data through glass threaded wires is super fast and is seen as the internet connection gold standard; when it comes to streaming, it’s undoubtedly the best option: you are much less likely to experience buffering of any kind if you use a fiber-optic connection. Upload speeds are also fantastic: you can expect to be able to upload a file or a video in mere minutes. The downside of fiber optic? It’s not yet widely available, but this is changing, and it’s being increasingly rolled out across the country.
For more information on a provider offering fiber optic, have a look at Ting internet; this small company provides ultra-fast speeds and whole home connection packages and is perfect for those who regularly stream tv shows and movies.
Satellite internet is a popular option for those living in rural areas where there’s no broadband connection available. Some satellite internet options offer speeds of 25Mbps, meaning that they will support most streaming platforms.
When choosing your internet provider, you’ll need to pay attention to their data caps, too, to make sure these don’t affect your streaming and viewing experience. A data cap can affect how often you can stream. With this in mind, an unlimited plan is most likely to be your best bet so that you can stream freely and aren’t at risk of slower speeds or additional charges if you exceed your data allowance for the month, although these packages can be the most expensive option.
However, if your budget doesn’t stretch to an unlimited plan, or if you’d like to trial a capped plan, then, to give you an idea of the sort of data you’ll require to stream, streaming a Netflix show in HD quality will use about 3GB an hour. At the other end of the scale, streaming a Spotify playlist on a normal setting will only eat through about 43.2MB an hour.
Different Devices and Usage Habits
Finally, it’s important to remember that data usage will vary with different devices. Each household is unique: for example, a large household that contains just a single serious streamer may find a relatively cheap capped data plan to be perfectly adequate, whereas a two-person household, where both are heavy streamers, could do better with an unlimited plan.
To make a decision on the internet provider and plan for you and your household, it’s a great idea to monitor each person’s data usage over a month to see exactly the data and speed you’ll need to keep everyone viewing happily.