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What is the Required Internet Speed for Streaming Netflix?

"Loading" or "the spinning wheel of death" is one of the most dreaded experiences you can have with the internet.

You've likely seen this before:

It's frustrating and annoying when all you want to do is relax and catch up on your favorite shows on Netflix but your internet speed has other plans.

What's wrong? You are paying a hefty amount for internet service, after all, so why is this happening?

Today, we'll explain to you why your internet speed for streaming does not want to cooperate when you need it.

How Internet Speed For Streaming Works

Before we dive into the specific problems that may be affecting your internet speed, let's back up and make sure we all understand what makes up a fast internet speed and how it works.

Internet speed is measured in Mbps, that is megabits per second. Most basic internet packages start at about 5Mbps per second for downloading and 1Mbp for uploading. The higher those number are, the faster your internet should be.

But wait - why are there two speeds? Because internet speed is broken down into two different categories. Download speed and upload speed.

Download Speed:

The download speed is what most of us are referring to as the streaming speed. It's what's responsible for how fast or slow your Netflix shows are loading. Every time you stream a show or video on your computer, it is basically "downloading" information from the internet.

Uploading Speed:

The uploading speed is the rate at which your internet is delivering information to other people. Think about when you use Skype or join a video conference call for work. If the other person is always saying they can't see you, you might have a low uploading speed.

What's My Speed?

If you don't know what your internet speed is, you can find out right now in just a couple of seconds by using an internet speed tester. It will tell you your download speed and upload speed.

How Fast Should My Internet Be?

It all depends but here are some general guidelines...

  • 5 Mbps is good for one person who only uses the internet for browsing, email, social media.
  • 10 Mbps is good for one or two people who regularly watch videos and shows online plus other less demanding internet activities.
  • 20 Mbps is good for two to three people who like to watch Netflix in HD quality, on multiple devices.
  • 30+ Mbps is good for multiple people who enjoy streaming videos and play video games online.
  • 80+ is high-speed broadband for multiple users, such as in small office spaces.

Factors That Slow Down Internet Speeds for Streaming

Now that we understand the difference between downloading speed and uploading speed a little bit more, we can focus specifically on what affects the downloading speed, the internet speed for streaming movies.

Not Enough Mbps

According to Netflix, the minimum internet speed for streaming their videos on HD is 5Mbps. This doesn't mean you can't watch their shows if you have anything slower than that. It simply means you won't be able to watch them in HD.

Have you ever noticed how sometimes in the middle of your show, the quality of the video becomes a bit fuzzy and then it goes back to being clear? It's probably because there are too many people in your household online. When you have multiple people using the internet at the same time, the Mbps get divided, so if you have five people online, you're each only getting about 1Mbps.

The solution? Upgrade to more Mbps. If everyone in your family likes to watch their own Netflix shows at the same time in HD, you will need about 5Mbps per person.

Not Enough Bandwidth

Similar to the data plan on your phone, bandwidth is the amount of speed your internet provider can transmit in a certain period of time. When you purchase an internet plan, it comes with a set amount of bandwidth and when you reach it, your internet starts to slow down.

If you find your internet becoming much slower in the middle or end of your billing cycle, it's very likely that you need more bandwidth. An internet provider can help you determine how much bandwidth you need based on the types of activities you do online every day.

Router Condition

If you've upgraded your internet plan but you still have an older router from the last company, you might be shortchanging yourself on internet speed. Nowadays, most new routers support the 802.11ac standard but if you have an older router, it might not. Call your internet provider and make sure you have a newer model that optimizes the internet speed.

On the other hand, if you suspect your router is broken, get a wire to connect your router directly into your computer and see if it makes a difference in the speed. If it does, then you know your router is the problem. If not, then it is something else.

Router Placement

This might seem obvious to some of you but you want to make sure your router is centrally located. If you place your router behind a wall or in a hidden corner because maybe you were worried people will trip over it, it affects your internet speed. Large obstructions like walls can prevent your router from transmitting frequencies properly.

Intermittent Connection Issues

Everyone has internet connection problems once in a while, even if they have 1000 Mbps. Sometimes there could be a fallen tree somewhere that's affecting it, or there could be a power outage, or simply, there's a bug in the system.

When that happens, you can try unplugging your router, giving it a few minutes of rest, grab some tea, and then try again. Sometimes the hardest problems can be solved with the easiest solution.

Got Anymore Questions About Your Internet Speed?

If so, feel free to head over to our tech support page. We regularly update our tips for some of the most common and unique internet connection problems including internet speed for streaming, including how to reset your router.