What broadband do I need for a streaming services?

Streaming services are becoming more and more popular in the UK. Whether it’s a movie, TV or music, the demand to watch or listen to what you want, when you want it is strong.

To be able to stream services you need to have a broadband service in place that supports the speed and data usage requirements of streaming.

So, just how fast and how much data allowance do you need to have in place? Let’s find out.

What broadband speed do you need?

What speed you need depends largely on which streaming service you’re looking to use. Watching catch-up TV for example has a very different speed requirement from downloading your favourite tunes or watching a movie in high definition (HD).

Broadband speed is usually measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Below are some of the speeds you’re likely to need to be able to stream certain services:


Needed for non-HD


Ultra HD

BBC iPlayer

1.5 Mbps

2.8 Mbps

Not available


1.5 Mbps

5.0 Mbps



0.9 Mbps

3.5 Mbps


Now TV

2.5 Mbps

Not available

Not available

Music is similar to TV and movies in that downloads come with varying qualities. For low quality music you may be able to stream with a speed of only 0.3 Mbps. However, to stream music at a good audio quality, a minimum of 1.5 Mbps is recommended.

For Skype streaming services, you need to be aware of both your download and upload speeds. This is because your connection is both receiving and sending data at the same time. Again, the broadband speed requirement depends on what service you are using, for example:




Video Call

300 kbps

300 kbps

Video Call (High quality)

500 kbps

500 kbps

Video Call (HD)

1.5 Mbps

1.5 Mbps

Group video (3 people)

2 Mbps

512 kbps

For all of these services, the speeds might not sound like a lot. Remember though, this is the minimum that the service requires to function. If more people are connected to your broadband, your speed will be shared across the household. The more people and more devices that are connected, the slower the speed you’ll see.

What speed do I have?

If you’ve a fibre optic 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 on fibre optic cables.

If you’re on copper wire, standard broadband, where you live can make a lot of difference. If you live close to the exchange, you’ll have much more chance of getting speeds closer to the ‘up to 17 Mbps’ you’ll see advertised.

The further you live from the exchange though, and the further your house is from a local junction box, the slower your service will be. If you live remotely, your actual speed could be very different.

To find out your actual speed, there are free web based tools as well as apps available.

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