You might be a movie & TV aficionado if you live on the couch after 7pm; if you can name at least 15 shows that aired last season; if you’ve ever named a pet after a fictional character; if video quality matters for video streaming; if you watch Hulu® and Netflix® and regular TV; if the buffer icon haunts your dreams.
TV & Movie Aficionado
You need a minimum download speed of 3 Megabits per second to watch a single video stream in clear, standard definition. The best Internet speed for HD streaming is 5Mbps, and if you go all the way up to 4K streaming, or ultra HD, your bandwidth should start at 25Mbps. You can get by on a congested network if you lower your app's image quality settings, but for a consistently clear streaming experience, aim higher.
Recommended Internet Speed
Do I need a high upload speed for streaming?
Nope! Streaming is a type of downloading—it just means that instead of downloading a movie once to your desktop, you’re receiving that movie’s data piece by piece from the cloud. But upload speeds are crucial for other online activities like video chat.
You might be a silent socializer if you love to browse clickbait on Facebook or Twitter; check Instagram every time you touch your phone; are following a live stream on Facebook or checking celebrity Snaps; can’t leave YouTube videos alone to save your life—but for personality or privacy reasons, also can’t bring yourself to do your own video streaming.
The Silent Socializer
Whether you’re the silent social type, or more like a social media foghorn, almost all social media apps now incorporate both video and audio functionality. Social media apps need constant juice to be able to refresh correctly and load every post as quickly as you want. With at least 3Mbps, one social media user can stream video-after-video in clear, standard definition or HD. With a minimum of 4 or 5Mbps, the videos will look even better and load even faster.
Suggested Internet Speed
Not the silent type?
If you’re more like a social media foghorn, upload speed is equally important for you. Look for Internet packages with generous upload speeds.
You might be a musical soul if streaming music on Tidal, Pandora, or Spotify is as much a daily staple as coffee; if you spent over R2000 on your headphones; if when music streaming was born, it was like you were born again. If you hate when your music cuts out right at the climax of the song, you’re probably a regular person. But either way, you need enough bandwidth to stream music without having to cross the room, press pause, wait for the file to load … and end up restarting the song anyway.
Music quality and format varies across different streaming services and settings, but generally, the higher the quality, the more speed you need. The most common default encoding rate these days is 256 Kbps. To hear this basic format clearly, you’ll need at least 1.5 Mbps. If your streaming service offers tracks encoded at 380Kbps, you’ll want around 3 Mbps; and if you have the great privilege of accessing files with little to no compression, you’ll want as many as 5 Mbps to hear each song in all its glory.
The Internet Speed You Need
Stream video isn’t just for music or movie trailers.
Chances are you browse YouTube looking for a DIY solution to some common household problem, like a clogged drain, or a way to better insulate your windows to save money in the winter. Then there’s those awe-inspiring TED Talks, and those Lynda.com lessons on time management, coding, Excel or even photography. Streaming video isn’t just for music videos anymore. Life-learning, or quick DIY projects for the weekend, there’s a video for that. You’ll want to bump up your speed as you need at least 3 Mbps for standard definition, and 5 for HD.
You might be Professor Newsie if podcast episodes take up more space on your phone than pictures; if you’d rather work out to interviews than music; if you have a voracious appetite for knowledge and learning is your jam.
The predominant sound in talk radio, podcasts, and audio books is one human voice speaking at a time, so you won’t need nearly as much bandwidth as your fellow streamers. Lucky you! Since you’re curious about who will run in the next gubernatorial race—not what it feels like to have a pundit spitting consonants in your ear—you can do without the high-def audio and get by with a working speed of 1.5Mbps.
Minimum Recommended Speed for Audio
When You Want High-Def
Podcasts like Snap Judgment wouldn’t be themselves without incredible music and sound effects. If sound quality matters to you even when music isn’t in the spotlight, add another Megabit or two to your Internet bundle. Easy.