Have you ever encountered that terrible moment when all of a sudden the crystal clear video you were streaming turned into a pixelated mess leaving you to wonder what went wrong? I had to go through this a few times before I thought of researching about it to find out why this kept happening. I had chosen one of the Optimum internet plans because I had heard great things about the provider. And to be honest I had never encountered any problems before I started using Netflix.
So after I had tried every trick that I thought was worth trying, I called up Optimum’s helpline only to have my suspicion confirmed that I had too low of a download speed to stream. Thus, I upgraded to a higher package and lived happily ever after.
However, while I was researching I found out that several factors affect the download speed of your internet and not everyone needs an upgraded internet plan. Sometimes something as simple as moving your router to a different location might do the trick. So let’s go ahead and find out how you can maximize your internet connection for faster streaming.
First, let us establish what is bandwidth and why it affects your streaming experience? So in simple words, the speed at which data is being transmitted from your smartphone/ tablet/ computer to Netflix and vice versa is called the bandwidth. Hence, the amount of bandwidth you receive from your internet provider dictates the rate at which you can access websites or watch uninterrupted videos. Therefore, the higher the bandwidth the better your online experience.
The download speeds provided by all the internet service providers (ISPs) are measured in Mbps (Megabits per Second) which is the speed at which data is transmitted to and from your computer. Do not confuse it with Mbps (Megabytes per Second) which is the measure of the size of a file or other data being downloaded over the internet.
Almost all streaming services have somewhat similar speed requirements for their services to run smoothly. However, let’s look at the speeds recommended by Netflix for now, as it is the most popular streaming service out there. This is just a guideline and may differ from service to service, so it is recommended you confirm these with the relevant streaming service before subscribing.
Also, note that the below table displays speeds needed for a single stream. Therefore, if there are multiple users in the house you’ll need to multiply the figure to the number of streams that will be running simultaneously.
|3 Mbps||Standard Definition||480p|
|5 Mbps||High Definition||1080p|
|25 Mbps||Ultra High Definition||2160p|
Now that you know what speeds are required for the type of videos you want to stream, let’s find out what is your internet connection’s speed that you receive. Several services online let you check your internet connection’s speed quite accurately. The process is quite simple. Run a Google search and try the speed checker with the best reviews. Once you’ve decided upon the speed test you want to run just click on the link and as soon as you land on the site your speed test will automatically run providing you the real-time speed of your connection.
Some tests will provide you with extensive information like download speed, upload speed, ping, etc. However, if you don’t upload much and aren’t much of a gamer, download speed is all you need to worry about. A general rule of thumb is that the higher all these three the better.
Right, now that you know what speed you’re receiving and it seems not to be enough for you to stream away without the frustrating buffering that never seems to end. Let’s look at ways to improve your internet speed so you aren’t left envying your friends with high-speed internet connections who don’t understand the struggles of a common man stuck in the “buffer” zone.
All routers these days come with a WPA2 security protocol, which means that you have the option to make your internet connection password protected. Password protection keeps you safe from strangers accessing your connection just because they’re in the range of your Wi-Fi router. Otherwise, you’ll keep facing increased data usage and reduced internet speed and blaming your ISP unknowingly.
This is one of the simplest yet effective ways to improve your internet connection’s speed. The ideal place for your router is to be somewhere in the center of the house so it can transmit signals in all directions equally. Lot’s of walls and other obstructions of sorts hinder these signals and result in reduced speed. So if you have your router hidden somewhere in a cabinet or bookshelf you may have to move it to somewhere more open.
You may be familiar with Ethernet cables from your office where your computers are networked together and access the internet through cables. You can use the same kind of Ethernet cables in your house as well to connecting your router/modem and the devices using up most of the juice. As discussed earlier, Wi-Fi signals are disrupted by walls, doors, etc. Thus, making them less reliable and able to deliver lower speeds than a cable. Therefore, having a few of your devices like your smart TV, computer, etc. connected to the modem/router directly will help you receive much faster speeds.
4.Scheduled Downloads/ Uploads:
For me, the best time to schedule any heavy downloads or uploads is during the night while I sleep. But everyone is different, so if you don’t want to schedule anything for the night, observe a time of lowest internet activity in your house and schedule them at that time always. This way you can enjoy your video chats, streams and whatnot without these heavy files sapping your internet speed.
5.Contact Your ISP:
Sometimes ISPs will advertise a speed but you will rarely receive it. So try running a speed test at different times of the day for a few days to see if you are paying for a much higher speed than you’re receiving. If yes, then it may be time for you to call up your ISP and discuss this with them. If they aren’t willing to offer an explanation or compensation, it may be time to switch to a better ISP.
I was lucky that I got everything sorted with my ISP and I hope you are too. I hope the above tips will help you finally enjoy your movies and shows without any interruptions.