How to Improve Broadband Speed when Streaming TV Shows
Streaming services, like Netflix and Amazon Prime, have made it hugely convenient for us to watch films and TV shows on demand. But, there are few things more frustrating than a video that won’t stop buffering.
21 Sep 2018
How Fast Does My Internet Need to be to Stream TV Shows?
First, let’s discuss broadband speed requirements for streaming.
Most streaming services recommend minimum internet speeds of at least 1.5Mb to stream your favourite shows. Keep in mind that this is only the “recommended minimum” speed so ideally, you’ll need more.
And that’s only for standard quality. Higher qualities will require even more. For example, Netflix estimates that you’ll need at least 5Mb to watch in HD quality and 25Mb for Ultra HD quality.
So, now that you know what broadband speed you need to stream videos, what can you do if you want to break that dreaded buffering wheel?
1. Get More Bandwidth
Not necessarily because you’re forgetting about all the other devices that are connected to your broadband.
From mobile phones and tablets to smart TVs and games consoles, all of these devices may also be using up the available bandwidth. And if it’s at the same time that you’re trying to stream a TV show on Netflix, it’s probably going to put your poor bandwidth under quite a bit of stress.
Take a look at our products here, perfect for tech-heavy households that require more bandwidth!
2. Move Your Router to a More Optimal Position
There are plenty of things that can affect the strength of a wireless broadband signal. Walls, doors and even interference from other objects like the microwave or baby monitors. Then there’s also the issue of how far your device is from the router as the further away you are, the weaker the signal is probably going to be.
That’s why if you want to maximise coverage across the whole house, place your router in a central location and position it high up - like on top of a bookshelf.
3. Close Any Applications Running in the Background
There may be applications running on your devices, usually without you realising. From software updates and security scans, to open website tabs and social media apps, all of these things can eat up your bandwidth and affect your broadband speed.
Combat this by shutting down any apps that you’re not currently using. In particular, check that any bandwidth-heavy streaming services, like Spotify which you might have had open last night or Facebook that you were browsing through this morning, are closed when you’re not using them.
4. Connect Your Device via the Ethernet Port
Plugging your device directly into your router via an Ethernet cable can significantly boost internet speed as there will be little interference. After all, it’s literally a direct connection.
However, this solution might not be available to everyone. For example, your router might not be in a practical location (e.g. if it’s on top of a bookshelf) or your device doesn’t have an Ethernet port (e.g. if you have a mobile phone). In these cases, going wireless may be the only option. Luckily, there’s another way to boost the signal…
5. Try a Powerline Adapter
A powerline adapter can help boost the wireless broadband signal via a home’s power lines. They come in pairs and act as a “bridge” between devices and routers which may be in separate rooms in a house. These adapters are particularly useful in homes where the signal is weak. For example, old farm houses with big, thick walls reportedly struggle.
All you have to do is plug one adapter into a power outlet near the router and connect it with an Ethernet cable. Then, plug the other adapter into an outlet near your streaming device and connect that via an Ethernet cable. And voila! You now have a boosted wired connection, even though you’re nowhere near the router.
Some broadband providers offer powerline adapters or you can buy your own via websites like Amazon.
6. Switch Broadband Providers
If you find that your broadband speed is still slow despite trying as much of the above as you can, then it may be time to switch to another broadband provider.
There are several things to keep in mind when browsing for a new provider.
First, know that with some providers, the advertised speed might not be what you’ll get all the time. For example, if you have a 50Mb plan, it probably won’t be 50Mb if everyone in your neighbourhood is trying to stream videos at the same time as you. Peak times can significantly affect speed, especially if you’re all sharing the same neighbourhood “pipe of internet”.
Second, where you live can also have an impact. For instance, rural areas are known to have poorer broadband speeds and connections due to the location and infrastructure.
A 2017 Ofcom survey found that in the UK, broadband speeds in rural areas are much slower than they are in cities (25Mb compared to 47Mb). That’s just enough to stream Ultra HD content on Netflix but given that it’s the minimum recommended figure, rural communities probably won’t be able to.
In these cases, it may be a better idea to find a broadband provider who specialises in delivering broadband to rural communities. Because rural areas have a lower population density, mainstream broadband providers are unlikely to upgrade internet infrastructure in these areas. But, rural broadband providers are and can help you obtain faster speeds and more reliable connections.