The Best Internet for Streaming 2021

Find out what speeds you need for Netflix to Spotify, plus top internet providers for streaming.

Whether you’re streaming movies on Netflix, jamming out to the latest hits on Spotify, or broadcasting your own livestream on Twitch, your internet speed matters.

But not all streaming is created equal—so here’s a quick guide to the recommended internet speeds for streaming. Plus, we’ll share our recommendations for internet service providers (ISPs) that should meet your streaming needs.

Find an internet plan for streaming near you.

What internet speed do I need for video streaming?

To catch the latest Netflix Original or mind-boggling hit on HBO Max, you’ll need anywhere from 1.6 to 25 Mbps download speeds. (If you want to immerse yourself in 4K glory, you’ll need that top-end 25 Mbps speed.)

But don’t forget that’s internet speed dedicated to your streaming app. So if you’re streaming HD or 4K movies on multiple devices, you’ll want more Mbps. We recommend at least 25 Mbps. And if you have more than one person streaming in your home, we bump our recommendation up to 50 Mbps as the minimum.

Best internet speed for streaming video
Streaming appOptimal download speed
Netflix3–25 Mbps1
Hulu3–16 Mbps2
Hulu + Live TV8+ Mbps2
Disney+5–25 Mbps3
YouTube TV3–13+ Mbps4
Sling TV3–25 Mbps5
FuboTV3–25 Mbps6
HBO Max12+ Mbps8
AT&T TV NOW12+ Mbps8
Acorn TV1.6+ Mbps9

Top recommended ISP for streaming: Xfinity

Xfinity Internet - West
Download speeds:
501200 Mbps
Data cap:
11.2 TB
Connection Type:
Cable/Fiber
Starting at $29.99 a month

Data effective 11/3/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*For the first 12 months. Some packages require a 1- or 2-year contract.

Reviews.org best value award badge for January 2021

Xfinity is our choice for best internet for any kind of streaming for a few reasons:

  • It’s widely available across the US—you can find Xfinity in 40 states.
  • It has competitive prices for a wide range of download speeds that meet streaming requirements.
  • Xfinity was the second fastest cable internet provider in the US, according to our fastest ISPs report.
  • Xfinity had a low average latency of 78.1 ms across all of 2019.

Our only pain points with Xfinity are its data cap of 1.2 TB and its notoriously bad customer service. Granted, 1.2 TB is a lot of data to go through in one month, so we think most everyone will be fine with that much data.

Heads Up icon
Does latency make videos buffer?
You betcha a high latency (over 100 ms) can make your videos buffer. Latency is also referred to as lag, and it measures how long it takes for your device to send a signal to the streaming app’s server and back again.

So you can imagine that the longer it takes to get that signal to your streaming service and back again, the more likely that buffering icon is to show up and disrupt your veg session.

Xfinity internet rating for streaming
FeatureXfinity internet details
Connection typeCable
Weighted speed score*46.6 out of 100
Average latency in 201978.1 ms
% coverage in the US18.92%
Top 3 states with most coverageDelaware, Maryland, and Massachusetts

Data effective 11/3/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*The Reviews.org weighted speed score is based on 2019 averages for each ISP’s download speeds (70% of score), upload speeds (20%) and latency (10%).

Get the full set of facts in our Comcast Xfinity internet review.

Compare Xfinity plans and prices near you.

Best rural internet speeds: Suddenlink

Suddenlink Internet
Download speeds:
751000 Mbps
Data cap:
Unlimited
Connection Type:
Cable
Starting at $30 a month

Data effective 11/3/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*Plus taxes, fees, and other charges. Price for Life. Customer must remain in good standing and up to date on bill payments to remain on Price For Life.

In smaller towns where big-name providers like Xfinity can’t be found, you might be more likely to find Suddenlink. While its coverage area is smaller, it focuses on serving small towns and more rural states like West Virginia, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

Suddenlink was also the fifth fastest cable internet provider in our latest internet speed report, and it maintained an average latency below 100 ms over the course of 2019. That makes it a great choice for streaming Cold Case Files on Netflix.

Suddenlink internet rating for streaming
FeatureSuddenlink internet details
Connection typeCable
Weighted speed score*37.1 out of 100
Average latency in 201990.4 ms
% coverage in the US3.54%
Top 3 states with most coverageWest Virginia, Arkansas, and Louisiana

Data effective 11/3/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*The Reviews.org weighted speed score is based on 2019 averages for each ISP’s download speeds (70% of score), upload speeds (20%) and latency (10%).

See why we recommend Suddenlink in our full review.

Look for Suddenlink plans in your area.

How much speed do I need to stream Netflix?

You don’t need a lot of speed for Netflix—just 3 to 5 Mbps will do to watch in SD or HD. Unless you need that 4K resolution in your life, and then you’ll need at least 25 Mbps.

Recommended internet speed for Netflix1
QualityResolutionNetflix recommends
SD480p3 Mbps
HD720p–1080p5 Mbps
Ultra HD/4K2160p25 Mbps

Want more Netflix streaming secrets? We don’t share these with just anyone. OK, maybe we do, but our Netflix guide is well worth a look.

How much speed do I need to stream Hulu?

Hulu’s requirements are pretty much the same as Netflix’s: you’ll need 3 Mbps to watch anything in the streaming library and at least 8 Mbps to watch Hulu + Live TV.

And if you’re all about blasting your retinas with glorious 4K resolution, well, you’ll need at least 16 Mbps.

Recommended internet speed for Hulu2
QualityResolutionHulu recommends
Hulu streaming librarySD and HD (480p–1080p)3 Mbps
Hulu + Live TVSD and HD (480p–1080p)8 Mbps
4K2160p16 Mbps

Wanna know if Hulu is worth it? Check out our expert Hulu review.

How much speed do I need to stream Disney+?

You’ll need 5 Mbps to stream Disney+ in HD and sing along with all your favorite songs. And for those 4K Disney shows with all their phenomenal cosmic power, you should be as golden as Rapunzel’s hair if you have at least 25 Mbps.

Recommended internet speed for Disney+3
QualityResolutionDisney recommends
HD720p–1080p5 Mbps
4KUHD (2160p)25 Mbps

Find out if Disney+ has all the bare necessities in our full-length review.

How much speed do I need to stream YouTube TV?

You’ll need speeds of 3 Mbps or better to get your dose of snarkiness with Schitt’s Creek on YouTube TV. Make that 13 Mbps or better if you need to watch the Rose family’s latest meltdown in HD.

Recommended internet speed for YouTube TV4
QualityResolutionYouTube recommends
SD480p3+ Mbps
HD1080p7–13+ Mbps

We’ve got more reasons why YouTube TV is a solid streaming choice in our full YouTube TV review.

How much speed do I need to stream in 4K?

Want to live that ultra-high-definition life? You’ll need at least 25 Mbps to watch the Baudelaire orphans outsmart the wily Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix in full 4K glory.

Because no one likes that smug little buffering icon. Not even Count Olaf.

Recommended internet speed for 4K
QualityResolutionRecommended speed
4K2160p25 Mbps

What internet speed do I need to stream music?

You’ll only need 1–10 Mbps as a starting point for streaming the latest Ariana Grande hit. But keep in mind that you’ll want more download speed as a buffer. You know, so you can watch YouTube, play video games, and use your smart thermostat while you jam out.

We aim for at least 25 Mbps. Luckily, lower-speed plans like this don’t usually cost a lot. Even better, you can opt for an ISP like CenturyLink, where you sacrifice a little bit of performance for an unlimited data plan, which is great for those who like to listen to music as they work. Other ISPs such as Xfinity have a 1.2 TB data cap, which is unfortunate as you use about 1 GB of data after streaming music for your entire 8-hour work-day.

Best internet speed for streaming music
Music appOptimal download speed
SpotifyAt least 1 Mbps10
PandoraAt least 1 Mbps10
Amazon MusicAt least 1 Mbps10
TIDAL5–10 Mbps11
Deezer5–10 Mbps12

Best budget-friendly internet option: CenturyLink

CenturyLink Internet
Download speeds:
100940 Mbps
Data cap:
Unlimited
Connection Type:
DSL/Fiber
Starting at $50 a month

Data effective 7/1/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*New customers only. Rate requires paperless billing and excludes taxes. Additional fees apply.

CenturyLink’s DSL internet service may not be as flashy as other providers, but it comes with low prices and unlimited data for all its plans, making it a no-brainer choice for anyone who’d rather save a buck than break a speed test.

Purchasing a CenturyLink plan with 40, 80, or even 100 Mbps allows for streaming, light gaming, and work from home. (Though we recommend at least 100 Mbps for working from home.)

And if you’re after download speed performance and low latency, the CenturyLink Fiber Internet plan is worth a look. Fiber tends to have lower latency and faster speeds than DSL.

CenturyLink internet rating for streaming
FeatureCenturyLink internet details
Connection typeDSL, fiber
Weighted speed score*20.2 out of 100
Average latency in 2019136.4 ms
% coverage in the US15.70%
Top 3 states with most coverageColorado, Washington, and Oregon

Data effective 11/3/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*The Reviews.org weighted speed score is based on 2019 averages for each ISP’s download speeds (70% of score), upload speeds (20%) and latency (10%).

Find out more in our CenturyLink internet review.

Find out what CenturyLink internet speeds are near you.

What internet speed do I need to livestream?

You’ll need download speeds of at least 4 Mbps and upload speeds of 1.8 to 6 Mbps to livestream on Twitch or YouTube. But we recommend a download speed of at least 25 Mbps and an upload speed of at least 10 Mbps because even Ninja, sodapoppin, and Asmongold need a buffer to keep all their connected devices online while they stream.

Best internet speed for livestreaming
Livestream serviceOptimal download speedOptimal upload speed
TwitchAt least 4 Mbps133–6 Mbps14
YouTube live stream13+ Mbps40.3–51 Mbps15
Info Box icon
What is Twitch?
Twitch is an online service that lets you watch live broadcasts—or stream yourself so others can watch you. It’s mainly focused on live video game broadcasts, but sometimes you can also find music, TV, art, and various other streams too.

Best fiber internet: Verizon Fios Home Internet

Verizon Internet - Fios Gig
Download speeds:
Data cap:
Connection Type:
Fiber

Data effective 11/3/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*w/Auto Pay + taxes. Equipment charges may apply.

A Reviews.org Editor's Choice award badge for January 2021

If we were to pick an ISP on reputation alone, we’d pick Verizon Fios Home Internet. We consistently hear great things about its customer service, and it always scores well when we look at internet speed performance, like our best ISPs for gaming review where Verizon Fios Home Internet ranks in the top five. Surprised? We’re not.

Of course, that latency score of 113.4 ms is a little high. We think this is a tad skewed because Verizon also offers DSL internet service. So we bet you’ll see lower latency with its full-fiber internet service.

Verizon Fios Home Internet rating for streaming
FeatureVerizon Fios Home Internet details
Connection typeFiber
Weighted speed score*65.1 out of 100
Average latency in 2019113.4 ms
% coverage in the US9.92%
Top 3 states with most coverageNew Jersey, Massachusetts, and Delaware

Data effective 11/3/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*The Reviews.org weighted speed score is based on 2019 averages for each ISP’s download speeds (70% of score), upload speeds (20%) and latency (10%).

See why we recommend Verizon Fios Home Internet in our full review.

Look for Verizon Fios Home Internet plans in your area.

Best fiber internet for bundling: AT&T Fiber

AT&T Fiber
Download speeds:
300940 Mbps
Data cap:
Unlimited
Connection Type:
Fiber
Starting at $35 a month

Data effective 11/3/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*For the first 12 months with a 1-year agreement.

At a glance, it doesn’t look like AT&T Fiber wins any races for speed performance. But we’d like to point out that that speed score and latency measurement include its DSL plans, which are no longer offered as of October 2020.

Now that AT&T has gone fully fiber, we expect to see speed scores closer to Verizon Fios Home Internet.

The awesome thing about AT&T Fiber is that you can bundle it with AT&T’s streaming service, AT&T TV NOW. (You can also bundle with DIRECTV if that’s more your jam.)

AT&T Fiber internet rating for streaming
FeatureAT&T Fiber internet details
Connection typeFiber
Weighted speed score*33.8 out of 100
Average latency in 201983.9 ms
% coverage in the US23.33%
Top 3 states with most coverageMississippi, Michigan, and Tennessee

Data effective 11/3/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*The Reviews.org weighted speed score is based on 2019 averages for each ISP’s download speeds (70% of score), upload speeds (20%) and latency (10%).

Get more details in our AT&T Fiber internet review.

Find out if AT&T Fiber is available in your area.

How much speed do I need to stream on Twitch?

Streaming on Twitch requires at least 4 Mbps download speeds and anywhere from 3 to 6 Mbps upload speeds.

The speeds you need depend on what quality you aim for with your livestream. We mainly looked at resolution and framerate for GPU encoding (NVIDIA NVENC) here, but you’ll also want to consider keyframe intervals and more.

If you’re starting out, you should check out Twitch’s recommendations for your setup.

Also, we know the FCC recommends a download speed of only 4 Mbps for online gaming,13 but that’s not going to cut it for most multiplayer games. So play it safe and assume you’ll need a faster connection.

What are GPU and NVIDIA NVENC?

Those of us who geek out over computer hardware love our acronyms, so sometimes it’s like we’re speaking another language. Here’s a quick hit tip on what GPU and NVIDIA NVENC are:

GPU: This is your graphics card, or “graphics processing unit.”

NVIDIA NVENC: This is a feature of NVIDIA’s graphics cards that allows the GPU to handle the encoding—meaning, it lets the GPU convert your livestream into a video file. Traditionally, this was handled by your processor (CPU), which could cause performance issues if you were playing a game at the same time.

Recommended internet speed for Twitch streaming with NVIDIA NVENC9
ResolutionFrame rateRecommended downloadRecommended upload
720p30 fpsAt least 4 Mbps3 Mbps
720p60 fpsAt least 4 Mbps4.5 Mbps
1080p30 fpsAt least 4 Mbps4.5 Mbps
1080p60 fpsAt least 4 Mbps6 Mbps

How much speed do I need to livestream on YouTube?

To hop on a live stream with YouTube, you’ll need at least 13 Mbps download speeds and anywhere from 1.5 to 18 Mbps upload speeds. (Bump those upload speeds up to 13 to 51 Mbps if you want to stream in 4K.)

Recommended internet speed for YouTube livestreaming4,15
ResolutionFrame rateRecommended downloadRecommended upload
720p30 fpsAt least 13 Mbps1.5–4 Mbps
720p60 fpsAt least 13 Mbps2.25–6 Mbps
1080p30 fpsAt least 13 Mbps3–6 Mbps
1080p60 fpsAt least 13 Mbps4.5–9 Mbps
1440p30 fpsAt least 13 Mbps6–13 Mbps
1440p60 fpsAt least 13 Mbps9–18 Mbps
2160p (4K)30 fpsAt least 13 Mbps13–34 Mbps
2160p (4K)60 fpsAt least 13 Mbps20–51 Mbps

Recap: The internet speeds you need to stream

Pop quiz: what internet speed do you need for streaming? Don’t worry, we’ve got your cheat sheet here.

  • Video: Look for speeds of at least 3–10 Mbps for Netflix, Huly, Disney+, and YouTube TV.
  • Ultra HD/4K: You’ll want at least 25 Mbps.
  • Music: A little goes a long way, so 5 Mbps is likely enough. But go for 10+ Mbps if you stream on TIDAL or Deezer.
  • Livestreaming: Upload speeds matter—look for 10–50 Mbps upload speeds and download speeds of at least 13 Mbps to host a live stream on Twitch or YouTube.

Top recommended internet providers for streaming

  • Xfinity: $29.99–$84.99/mo.*, 50–1,200 Mbps download speeds, 1.2 TB data cap
  • CenturyLink: $50.00–$65.00/mo.**, 15–940 Mbps download speeds, unlimited data for all plans
  • Verizon Fios Home Internet: $39.99–$79.99/mo.†, 200–up to 940 Mbps download speeds, unknown data cap (likely unlimited)
  • AT&T Fiber: $35.00–$60.00/mo.††, 300–1,000 Mbps download speeds, unlimited data
  • Suddenlink: $30.00–$70.00/mo.‡, 75–1,000 Mbps download speeds, unlimited data

Data effective 7/1/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*For the first 12 months. Some packages require a 1- or 2-year contract.
**New customers only. Rate requires paperless billing and excludes taxes. Additional fees apply.
†w/Auto Pay + taxes. Equipment charges may apply.
††For the first 12 months plus taxes and equip. fee.
‡New customers only. Rate requires paperless billing and excludes taxes. Additional fees apply.

Look for internet that’s ready for streaming in your area.

Related video: How streaming affects your internet

How to choose the best internet provider for streaming

To find the best internet providers for streaming, we looked at the following features:

If you’re feeling limited by the number of internet choices in your area, here are a few tips to help you narrow down your search.

Fiber is better than cable is better than DSL

If you can get fiber internet where you live, go for it. Fiber is a newer technology that doesn’t suffer from the higher latency and other speed performance issues that cable and DSL have.

If fiber isn’t available near you, cable is a solid second choice. And DSL can be better than satellite—but streaming on satellite internet is still doable if you have no other choices.

You don’t always need the most expensive plan

Sometimes you’ll find a great deal on gig speeds, but if you don’t need 1,000 Mbps, you’re likely overpaying.

We recommend 25–50 Mbps as a baseline for streaming, but you’ll need more if you have a lot of connected devices or internet users in your home. So don’t be afraid to compare prices for 100 or even 200 Mbps internet plans.

Fiber internet has the best upload speeds for livestreaming

Thanks to its symmetrical (or similar) download and upload speeds, fiber internet is a great choice if you want to start a new Twitch career or live chat with your YouTube subscribers.

Cable internet also offers decent upload speeds if you choose a plan with faster download speeds. You shouldn’t need much more than 10 Mbps—that’s what our Reviews.org YouTube team recommends.

Sources

  1. Netflix, “Internet Connection Speed Recommendations,” 2020. Accessed November 3, 2020.
  2. Hulu, “Internet Speed Recommendations,” May 2020. Accessed November 3, 2020.
  3. Disney, “What Are the Disney+ Internet Speed Recommendations?,” 2020. Accessed November 3, 2020.
  4. Google, YouTube TV Help, “Troubleshoot Video Streaming Issues,” 2020. Accessed November 3, 2020.
  5. Sling, “Internet Speed Recommendations,” June 2020. Accessed November 3, 2020.
  6. FuboTV, “How Fast Does My Internet Connection Need to Be?,” February 2020. Accessed November 3, 2020.
  7. HBO Max, “HBO Max Loads Slow, Buffers, or Pauses,” 2020. Accessed November 3, 2020.
  8. AT&T, “Internet Speed Suggestions for AT&T TV,” 2020. Accessed November 3, 2020.
  9. Acorn TV, “Acorn TV Videos are Buffering,” 2019. Accessed November 3, 2020.
  10. John Dilley, HighSpeedInternet.com, “How Much Speed Do I Need to Stream Music?,” November 2017. Accessed November 3, 2020.
  11. Simone, Deezer, “Deezer HiFi,” November 2020. Accessed November 3, 2020.
  12. TIDAL, “Sonos,” 2020. Accessed November 3, 2020.
  13. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “Broadband Speed Guide
  14. Twitch, “Broadcasting Guidelines,” 2020. Accessed November 3, 2020.
  15. Google, “Choose Live Encoder Settings, Bitrates, and Resolutions,” 2020. Accessed November 3, 2020.
  • Dock Butler

    Thanks for info. live in rural area with only 1 internet provider, century link. Subscribe to 5mpbs but get 4mpbs dwnload speed when test. Tech says that 5mpbs speed will be at beginning of service line coming into house and every connection at a split or modem will decrease speed. I am no tech person, but sound reasonable. It was at 2 to 3mpbs with 2 splits in line. 1st split coming into house into an inline filter, going to a direct tv box then across house to modem, then router. I told century link about 3mpbs vs 5mpbs speed, they tested it remotely. Sent tech who put a new service line from pole to house, took out inline filter & replaced modem and router with a new 1 piece unit. Now speed steady at 4mpbs, not 5mpbs, Does your subscribed speed differ from your actual speed at device being used because of losing speed at each connection?

  • Stojka Marcel

    Which online internet speed meter do you recommend? I’ve tried this one: http://www.netmeter.co.uk/ but I don’t know if I can trust those results. Are they accurate or not? I should have much higher speed than it shows me… What can be problem? Thanks for help.