You have your popcorn and you’ve got your movie picked out on your favorite streaming service. You’re cuddled up on the couch ready to go, but five minutes in, the video starts buffering.
Frustrated, you check your router, and it’s definitely working. What’s wrong? The answer might be your internet speed. Tap or click here to learn how to check your internet speed.
Cable companies make it pretty easy to increase your speed. But how fast do you need your internet to be for easy streaming? We know exactly what each platform requires. Take a look to see if you need to upgrade your internet service.
The speeds you need
Let’s start with the basics. What is the internet speed? Your internet’s speed is how quickly data can be uploaded or downloaded to or from your device to or from the web.
It’s measured in megabits per second, usually written as “Mbps.” Upload and download speeds are usually different, with download being much faster.
This makes sense, as you usually have more data and content coming in to a device than leaving it when you’re browsing the web. Tap or click here to learn which is better: streaming or downloading.
Here’s a list of streaming services and their minimum speed requirements to run one HD stream. If you have two devices watching two streams at once, you’ll need to double your required speed.
Similarly, if you have three devices streaming on the same network, you’ll need triple that speed. Add up the speeds and give yourself a cushion in case someone visits and for general internet usage. This number is the minimum internet speed you need for your household.
Here’s our chart for the minimum internet speeds you need for different popular streaming sites:
|Streaming Service||Minimum Speed Requirement|
|CBS All Access||1.5 Mbps|
|HBO Go/Now||3 Mbps|
|CBS All Access with Big Brother||4 Mbps|
|Amazon Prime Video||5 Mbps|
|HBO NOW||5 Mbps|
|Sling TV||5 Mbps|
|YouTube Premium (with live TV)||7 Mbps*|
|Hulu + Live TV||8 Mbps|
|Apple TV +||8 Mbps|
|AT&T TV Now||8 Mbps|
*The minimum speed for YouTube Premium with Live TV assumes only one device is using the network at a time. If there are more devices, the minimum is 13 Mbps.
So what’s the best internet speed for you overall?
As you can see in our chart, 5 Mbps is the base speed you’ll need for most services to get HD video. But remember, other devices connected to your internet will slow it down, and if you check your email, play games or scroll through social media sites while you’re streaming video on another device, that’ll cost you speed.
And this is also just talking about having HD or SD viewing experiences. If you want higher quality video, like 4K, we found you’ll generally need 25 Mbps, just for the streaming site.
This doesn’t include anyone who is streaming music, uploading or downloading content online, playing online games or other internet-based forms of entertainment and work.
The FCC recommends internet speeds of 12-25 Mbps for households with multiple internet users (and devices) in it. Add to that 4K streaming, and you need at least 50 Mbps for your network, if not more.
We recommend for a household of 2-4 regular internet users, with multiple devices, at least 50 Mbps. For similarly-sized households with a lot of streaming on different devices, we’d say go for 100 Mbps.
More is better when it comes to internet speed, too. Faster speeds mean multiple people can connect and load websites, download content, stream and more without lag or buffering for anyone.
These tests help you estimate the minimum speeds your household needs based on number of people living there, the kind of devices all of you use and how you use them.
With all the tools and base streaming speeds listed here, slow internet won’t be a problem in your life ever again. Talk to your internet provider and switch to the best plan for your needs.