Streaming Videos: Minimum Internet Speed Depends on Quality

Streaming video is probably a major reason you decided to pay extra for a high-speed Internet connection. But what is the minimum Internet speed for watching videos on a tablet, PC, or even a big-screen TV using a Roku, PS4, or Xbox One? The ultimate answer depends on the video quality.

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Internet Connection Speed Recommendations from Netflix

As one of the leading streaming-video services in the industry, Netflix definitely knows what the minimum Internet speed is for online viewing without lag. Their recommendations reveal that video quality is an important factor.

Netflix requires at least a 0.5 megabits per second (Mbps) connection at the bare minimum, and they recommend a 1.5 Mbps to even stream video at the lowest quality. You should expect essentially home video-level entertainment at this broadband speed.

The company recommends at least 3.0 Mbps for DVD-quality video streaming, and they bump that number up to 5.0 Mbps for HD-quality performance. Netflix claims that TV shows originally encoded in HD will play in 720p resolution or better provided that 5.0 Mbps bandwidth threshold is met.

Netflix even supports higher resolutions when available, but their bandwidth recommendations increase to 7.0 Mbps for Netflix Super HD format. For the few of you that enjoy 3D television content, the Internet speed recommendation is 12.0 Mbps. Remember that these are recommendations: for example, it is possible to occasionally stream HD video at 3.0 Mbps, but expect pixelation and lag, especially if there is heavy Internet traffic.

Shared WiFi Connections Lead to Degraded Streaming Performance

Remember, if you share your Internet connection with other users on the same WiFi connection, you are all fighting over one piece of bandwidth, so your actual streaming performance can vary from these numbers. It is probably a good idea to run a quick Internet speed test before streaming high-quality video. Ultimately, the minimum Internet speed to stream video on a tablet or any other device depends on the video quality, so make sure your provider is keeping up their end of the bandwidth bargain.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons