What Internet Speed Do I Need for Streaming?

You need 25 Mbps of internet download speeds to watch video streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, Sling TV, and others—at least to watch anything in 4K HD or UHD (ultra-high definition) quality.

Lower speeds like 10–18 Mbps work for lower-quality video formats like SD (standard definition) or HD (high definition). If you have more than one user or device, though, you’ll want more than 25 Mbps, and probably closer to 50 Mbps or more.

Streaming internet speed recommendations for one user:

  • 18–25 Mbps: Ultra HD video (4K, HDR, UHD, etc.)
  • 10–18 Mbps: HD video
  • 1–10 Mbps: SD video

Speed is measured in megabits per second, or Mbps. It’s how fast your computer downloads or uploads data. You can do a speed test to make sure you’re getting fast enough download speeds.

Think of it like this: a car can go a certain number of miles per hour (mph). Not every car can reach the same speeds, but if the dealer promises a certain speed capability, you can pretty much bet the car can go that fast.

The difference with Mbps, though, is that even if your stated Mbps download speeds are high, you may still run into buffering issues if you don’t have enough bandwidth for everyone’s devices to be on the Wi-Fi network.

How to improve your streaming speed

To get the best high-speed internet for streaming, you’ll need to account for multiple devices and users. You’ll also want to consider the types of media you need to play. 4K TV shows and HD online gaming require more Mbps than browsing the web or checking email.

We tend to go higher than the recommended streaming speed minimum requirements listed by websites, mostly because we like playing on our phones while watching TV.

So if you work from home or have friends over to watch movies often, you may want to upgrade your download speed plan to make sure your Wi-Fi signal is strong enough for everyone and every device.

Upgrade your internet plan

The average internet speed across the nation is around 100 Mbps, but some fiber internet providers have built networks that can reach up to 1 gigabit per second (1,000 Mbps) or more. However, 100 Mbps download speeds are enough for HD streaming for multiple devices and users.

You can check your current internet speeds using a speed test—you’ll also learn what your upload speeds are. For those looking for faster internet speeds, see if you can get a deal on upgrading your download speed, or check out our recommendations for the best internet service providers.

Upload speed isn’t as crucial for streaming unless you’re livestreaming from Twitch, playing online games, or uploading HD videos to YouTube, Vimeo, or Facebook. It also helps if you download and upload large files or hi-def video through file-sharing programs.

Upgrade your equipment

If you’ve purchased a high-speed internet plan but still get buffering issues, you may need to upgrade your modem or router. If you have an older model from your internet service provider, see if they’ll swap you out. If not, consider it an investment in your internet life.

And if your internet speed seems slow only when you stream movies, you should look into getting a Roku or another dedicated streaming device. That way, high-definition video streams won’t have to buffer because of other apps.

Now that you know, what’s next?

If you can get 25 Mbps or more to stream shows on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, then you’ll be in good shape. Do you want to learn about getting faster internet, or are you more interested in streaming service providers? Let us know how we can help in the comments below!

Next steps for finding fast internet in your area

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