What broadband do I need for streaming?

Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime are now entertainment staples, and streaming games is becoming popular, too. Is your broadband fast enough for streaming, or are you tired of those buffering times? Find out what speeds you need.

Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime are now entertainment staples, and streaming games is becoming popular, too. Is your broadband fast enough for streaming, or are you tired of those buffering times? Find out what speeds you need.

Holly Niblett
From the Digital team
4
minute read
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Posted 3 DECEMBER 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, if you want to avoid buffering.

If you want to make sure you’ve got the bandwidth for streaming your favourite shows and movies, take a look at our guides below.

What speed do I need to watch movies and stream TV?

While, generally, the bandwidth speeds you’ll need for uninterrupted streaming are about the same, different apps and services will recommend slightly different speeds for TV shows and movies. These average speeds are recommended minimums for what they would call consistent performance, to avoid buffering. Here are the recommended speeds for standard and high definition:

Service Needed for non HD HD Full 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 recommend different bandwidth 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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What speed do I need for video calling?

Video calling has doubled during the coronavirus pandemic, with 71% of adult internet users making video calls at least once a week and four in 10 of us making video calls daily. Skype, Zoom and FaceTime are some of the most popular video-calling services. If you use one of these, 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 1-1 video call) 1.2 Mbps
Zoom HD group video call

Download 2.5Mbps

Upload 3.0 Mbps

What speeds do I need for online gaming?

Around 16% of UK adults play games online. 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:

As the different consoles play a combination of shared and exclusive games, the recommended speeds can vary slightly. With newer games often involving online multiplayer or a shared, connected world, it can be important to have the right download speeds to keep up with other players. We’ve broken down the recommended speeds (including for the new generation of consoles PS5 and Xbox Series X) to keep you gaming, uninterrupted.

Service Minimum download speed

Xbox One
Xbox Series S
Xbox Series X

3 Mbps
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 5
N/A (estimated 3 Mbps)
Nintendo Switch 3 Mbps
Nintendo Wiii U 1.5 Mbps
PC/Mac 3-6 Mbps


Game streaming is also growing in popularity, partly thanks to more households having access to superfast and ultrafast broadband. These are the download speeds for selected game streaming services:  

Service Minimum Download Speed Recommended Download Speed
Xbox Game Pass Cloud Gaming
10Mbps N/A
PlayStation Remote Play 15 Mbps N/A
Google Stadia 10 Mbps 35 Mbps
Shadow 5 Mbps 25 Mbps
Nvidia GeForce NOW  15 Mbps 25 Mbps


If you want to stream games you’ll need the broadband speed to handle it, so you may need to upgrade. Currently, it’s estimated that 64% of households with broadband can stream games at the highest quality.
 
See more on how to get faster broadband and what broadband do I need for streaming?

What broadband speed do I have?

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

If you’re on standard broadband (ADSL) 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? Use our broadband speed test

Our broadband comparison service can help you find out what speeds and broadband 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 if you’re streaming in HD and 7GB for ultra HD.

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