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What broadband do I need for streaming?

What broadband do I need for streaming?

Streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, are becoming increasingly popular. But how fast does your broadband need to be to use them successfully and how much data allowance should you have in place?  

Holly Niblett
From the Digital team
minute read
posted 7 JANUARY 2020

What is a good broadband speed for streaming?

A good broadband speed for streaming is at least 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps) for TV services such as BBC iPlayer for standard streaming, or 2.8Mbps for HD quality. For Netflix, the minimum speed required is about 3Mbps for standard streaming and 5Mbps for HD. If it’s Ultra HD you’re after, you typically need at least 15Mbps for YouTube, while it’s 25Mbps for Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.

Watching movies and streaming TV

Service Needed for non HD HD Ultra HD
BBC iPlayer 1.5 Mbps 2.8 Mbps Not available
Netflix 3 Mbps 5 Mbps 25 Mbps
Amazon Prime Video 0.9 Mbps 3.5 Mbps 25 Mbps
YouTube 2.5 Mbps 4 Mbps 15 Mbps

Streaming audio and music videos 

Music is similar to TV and movies in that different services require different speeds.  

Service Minimum internet speed (Normal quality)
Spotify (Mobile) 0.96 Mbps
Spotify (Desktop) 0.160 Mbps
Google Play Music 0.320 Mbps
Apple Music (iTunes) 0.256 Mbps
Amazon Music Unlimited 0.5 Mbps

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Video calling services

Skype and FaceTime are two of the most popular video-calling services; if you use either, you need to be aware of both your download and upload speeds. This is because your connection will be receiving and sending data at the same time. Below are the minimum download and upload speeds you’ll need: 

Type Recommended download/upload speed
Skype (HD video call) 1.2 Mbps

Online Gaming

There are around 32.4 million gamers in the UK. If you’re one of them you’ll know that gaming can put a strain on your broadband speed. Multiplayer games also require a faster upload speed, as well as the more widely used download speeds. 

  • Fibre broadband – This provides a fast and stable internet connection, ideal for gamers.
  • ADSL – You might find it more of a struggle with copper wire-based broadband, as this has more potential for lagging. If more people within your home are connected to your broadband, your speed will be shared across your household. The more people and more devices that are connected, the slower the speed you’ll see.

Here are the minimum download speeds required by the most popular consoles: 

Service Minium download speed
Xbox One 3 Mbps
Playstation 4 N/A (estimated 3 Mbps)
Nintendo Switch 3 Mbps
Nintendo Wiii U 1.5 Mbps
PC/Mac 3-6 Mbps

What broadband speed do I have?

If you have a fibre broadband connection your broadband speed should be pretty close to those that you see advertised. (This is because the signal doesn’t weaken over distance with fibre cables.)

If you’re on standard ADSL broadband internet connectivity is delivered down the copper wires used by your existing phone line and speeds vary according to how far you live from your local telephone exchange. (If you live in some remote rural areas, your actual speed could be very different to those advertised.)

Want to check your broadband speed? There are free web-based tools and apps available.

Our broadband comparison service can help you find out what speeds and deals are available where you live.

How much data does streaming use?

Unless you have an unlimited broadband package, it’s worth noting that streaming TV, particularly HD programmes, could very quickly use up your monthly data limit.

For example, Netflix uses around 1GB of data for every hour of streaming, but this rises to 3GB is you’re streaming in HD and 7GB for ultra HD.

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