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What Internet Speed Do I Need for Streaming?
You need anywhere from 3–25 Mbps of internet download speeds to watch video streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, and others.
Lower speeds like 3–18 Mbps work for lower-quality video formats like SD (standard definition) or HD (high definition), while 25 Mbps is the bare minimum recommended download speed for 4K or ultra-high definition (UHD). If you have more than one user or device, though, you’ll want more than 25 Mbps—probably closer to 50 Mbps or more.
So let's dig in and figure out just how much internet speed you need to stream your favorite shows.
The best internet speeds for streaming
Your streaming device needs anywhere from 3–25 Mbps of dedicated internet speed, depending on which video quality you want.
- SD (480p): 3+ Mbps
- HD (720–1080p): 5–13+ Mbps
- 4K (UHD, 2160p): 16–25 Mbps
Speed is measured in megabits per second, or Mbps. It's how fast your computer downloads or uploads data.
With Mbps, it's important to know that even if your ISP lists download speeds that are fast, 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.
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 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 you'll need more speed to support multiple devices and people.
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.
Recommended minimum speed by streaming activity1,2
Streaming SD video (480p)
Streaming HD video (1080p)
Streaming 4K video (2160p)
How to improve your TV streaming experience
If your streaming session got cut short thanks to that annoying little buffering icon, we recommend starting with our tips for speeding up your internet.
Sometimes, a simple little trick like repositioning or restarting your router can do wonders for your internet connection.
But if you've tried all the tips in our guide and still have to give up couch space for that buffering bully, there are two more things you can try.
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.
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. They even offer symmetrical internet speeds where your upload speed matches your download speed.
However, 100 Mbps download speeds are enough for HD streaming for multiple devices and users.
And upload speed isn’t as crucial for streaming unless you’re livestreaming from Twitch, playing online games, or uploading HD videos to YouTube or Facebook. Upload speeds also help if you download and upload large files or hi-def video through file-sharing programs.
You can check your current internet speeds using a speed test. If your speed test results don't look as fast as what you need, see if you can get a deal on upgrading your download speed. Or check out our recommendations for the best internet service providers.
The best internet service providers for streaming
|Xfinity Internet||$19.99–$79.99*||50–1200 Mbps||View Plans|
|CenturyLink Internet||$50–$65†||100–940 Mbps||View Plans|
|Verizon Fios Home Internet||$39.99–$89.99‡||300–940 Mbps||View Plans|
|AT&T Fiber||$55–$180^||300–5000 Mbps||View Plans|
|Suddenlink Internet||$29.99–$79.99°||50–940 Mbps||View Plans|