What Broadband Speed Do I Need For Streaming? | 4K TV, UHD, Netflix (2024)

Emma Lunn | November 9th, 2021

Streaming TV and movies is something that many of us do regularly these days. But there are a wide range of speed requirements and levels of quality among the various streaming services. In this guide we'll take a look at how much speed each requires.

What Broadband Speed Do I Need For Streaming? | 4K TV, UHD, Netflix (1)

In this guide...

Streaming 4K Live-streaming

Skype, Facetime etc. Dropbox, iCloud etc.

Gaming requirements

Streaming TV and movies in SD, HD or 4K UHD

For standard definition (SD) streaming you'll need at least an average speed of 3Mbps, for HD 5-8Mbps and for 4K UHD you'll need 25Mbps minimum, but we recommend a connection of 50Mbps to cover all scenarios (live 4K broadcasts require more speed, for example). Here are the fine details for each of the UK's main streaming services. Note that, for now, during the coronavirus crisis, quality has been lowered on most of the following services, thereby lowering the bandwidth requirements of each temporarily.

  • Netflix – For standard definition (SD or 480p) Netflix requires at least 3Mbps, for high definition (HD or 1080p) you’ll need 5Mbps and for ultra-high definition (UHD, 4K or 2160p) you’ll need a minimum of 25Mbps* download speed. Netflix also offers content in HDR, with the speed required the same as it is for 4K
  • Amazon Prime – For standard definition (SD or 480p) Amazon Prime requires just 1Mbps, for high definition (HD or 1080p) you’ll need 5Mbps and for ultra-high definition (UHD, 4K or 2160p) you’ll need a minimum of 25Mbps* download speed. Amazon Prime also offers content in HDR, with the speed required the same as it is for 4K. Prime Video will serve the highest quality streaming experience possible based on the bandwidth speed available.
  • NOW TV – It only streams in standard definition and low-end (720p) high definition. NOW TV only states that you need a minimum of 2.5Mbps to use. This probably applies to the 720p (not true HD) streams it offers. For 3G or 4G devices the minimum speed needed is 450Kbps.
  • Disney+ – Disney's exclusive streaming service demands a minimum of 5Mbps* for high definition (HD, 1080p) content, and 25Mbps* for 4K UHD streaming
  • Apple TV+ – Apple's own streaming service is accessible via the Apple TV app, available on iPhones, Smart TVs and desktop applications for Mac or PC. Apple TV+ features exclusive Apple-made TV and movies, and is one of the most demanding out there. It has been praised for its exceptional image quality, but that comes at the cost of up to 41Mbps required for 4K UHD content, with 25Mbps* recommended as the minimum. The service scales down depending on the speed you have available. Anything 8Mbps or better and you will be able to watch without problems
  • YouTube – For standard definition (SD 360p) YouTube requires at least 0.7Mbps, for higher-quality standard definition (SD 480p) you’ll need at least 1.1 Mbps. For high definition (HD 720p) you will need 2.5Mbps, for higher-quality high definition (HD 1080p), you will need 5Mbps, and for ultra-high definition (UHD, 4K or 2160p) you’ll need a minimum speed of 20Mbps*.
  • Google Play Movies & TV – Google Play Movies & TV offers online video on-demand, accessible across all your Android devices and Smart TV. The service offers movies and television shows for purchase or rental, depending on availability. Google Play offers videos and TV in HD, 4K UHD and HDR, and specifies a 15Mbps requirement for 4K UHD, otherwise it will default to HD or SD depending on your bandwidth
  • BBC iPlayer – High-quality BBC iPlayer programmes stream at up to 5 Mbps while their standard quality programmes stream at 1.5 Mbps. BBC iPlayer’s website states that ‘you’ll actually need a little more bandwidth than this to watch programmes on BBC iPlayer’, so you will need minimum speeds of 5Mbps* to use this service.
  • ITV Hub – ITV Hub streams at a generally poor quality (poorer than BBC iPlayer, which itself is a long way behind the likes of Netflix, Amazon and iTunes). ITV states you’ll need a 0.8Mbps broadband connection as a minimum in order to watch it, from which we can infer around 3Mbps will probably be necessary for SD (ITV Hub doesn’t offer HD at all)
  • BT Sport – BT Sport streams via your YouView box over your internet connection while BT TV comes through your aerial. For BT Sport you’ll need at least 3.5Mbps.For HDR you’ll need at least 2.5Mbps, but at least 6Mbps is recommended for smart TVs, gaming consoles and other devices. For the BT Sport Ultra HD channel (4K) you’ll need a broadband speed of at least 25Mbps*, and to stream in 4K HDR, you’ll need minimum speeds of 30Mbps*

*For 4K streaming across all these services pay special notice to the word ‘minimum’. Depending on what is going on on the screen at any given time the amount of speed you require will go up and down – these minimums, then, do not guarantee you a 4K UHD stream 100% of the time and will drop in resolution when things get busy. To guarantee a true 4K stream across any service you should take the minimum and add 25% to those requirements.

These deals are great for 4K

Compare all fibre packages

Be aware that speed estimates are minimums

It’s important to understand the speeds quoted are the minimum speeds you need for HD/UHD. The exact speed you need relies on a few different factors, including what’s going on on-screen – more detailed scenes require faster speeds.

To be on the safe side, you’ll need your minimum broadband speed to be safely above these speeds. This is especially the case if you have a busy household with lots of internet-connected devices. If you’re trying to watch a Netflix show in UHD and your flatmates are gaming, it will slow down the speed you get. If your connection is too slow for your on-screen action, you’ll experience the dreaded buffering – where your video stops to wait for your broadband to catch up.

Estimates vary, but if you want to be absolutely safe from buffering, you should aim to get double the speed you need, especially if you have other people in your household who also like to use the internet.

The good news is that this is pretty easy to do. Most fibre broadband connections should be able to handle HD and UHD streaming without too many problems. Providers generally offer fibre speeds averaging 36Mbps and 67Mbps, which should be plenty. BT Superfast Fibre (previously BT Infinity 1) has speeds averaging 67Mbps while Virgin Media offers crazily fast connections up to and beyond 500Mbps.

Check availability in your area

Live-streaming video across the internet (Twitch, YouTube etc.)

For the uninitiated, live-streaming is basically broadcasting your own video across the internet. Various services offer this, including Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook Live and Twitch. When you’re watching a video, the download speed is important, but when you’re live-streaming (i.e. the star of the video), upload speed is the crucial thing.

What Broadband Speed Do I Need For Streaming? | 4K TV, UHD, Netflix (2)

This is where things get tricky. When broadband providers advertise broadband speeds, they’re talking about download speeds, not upload speeds. Most upload speeds are a fraction of the advertised download speeds. This means live-streamers need a top-end broadband package to get the faster speeds they need.

As with watching video, the speed you need depends on the definition of your live-streaming. As a rule, live-streaming services such as Twitch, YouTube, Facebook Live and Vimeo require an upload speed of at least 1.6Mbps to live-stream in SD. When it comes to 'low HD', you normally need a speed of at least 3-3.5Mbps.

'True HD' generally requires an upload speed of 3.5Mbps or above, although YouTube recommends 6Mbps. Twitch recommends an upload speed of 6 Mbps for high-quality, slow-motion 1080p, and a recommended upload speed between 9-13 Mbps for faster live-stream content.

You need unlimited fibre broadband with a good upload speed

Standard broadband deals normally offer download speeds averaging 25Mbps, but these will generally have sluggish upload speeds of about 3Mb (if you’re lucky). That’s barely enough for any of the popular live-streaming services, even at low-res, so you’ll need a fibre broadband connection and one with a decent upload speed at that. Our guide on which broadband deals offer the best upload speed in the UK has more information on this subject.

A single 30-minute broadcast (at 1080p HD) will consume anywhere from 1GB-3GB of data so if you do a lot of live streaming, you’ll use a lot of data. For that reason you should look for an unlimited broadband deal – but that’s most of them these days anyway.

Look for a minimum upload speed of 5Mb

Your required upload speed will vary depending on your capture quality (eg: 720p HD), your streaming platform (eg: YouTube, Twitch) and whether you’re outputting a single stream direct to the web or multiple streams at variable bit rates via a video encoder. In any case, your streaming service of choice will likely have its own recommended upload speed, but as a general rule, 5Mb or above is considered optimal for HD video.

Don’t worry about traffic management policies (unless you’re with Virgin Media)

Some unlimited broadband packages have traffic management policies hidden away in the small print. However, these generally only affect activities such as peer-to-peer file sharing and downloading a lot of data. During this time it puts a temporary speed restriction on the heaviest users uploading data. Virgin Media used to apply a traffic management policy to what is described as 'a small minority of customers' from 6pm to 11pm each day, but they’ve updated their policy to use traffic management practices only in case of severe misuse or abuse, where a customer's connection is being used for purposes that are illegal, unlawful or inconveniencing other Internet users.

What speed do I need to use VoIP services like Skype and Facetime?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services such as Skype and Facetime need both a decent upload speed (for when you talk) and download speed (for when the other person talks). Most VoIP providers don’t recommend download and upload speeds, but Skype is the exception with clear guidelines about what you need.

What Broadband Speed Do I Need For Streaming? | 4K TV, UHD, Netflix (3)

If you’re just having a one-on-one chat on Skype, it recommends download and upload speeds of just 100kbps and a minimum of just 30kbps. That’s easy to achieve – but you’ll need faster speeds for group chats and group video calls. The recommended download speed for a seven-way video chat is 8Mbps and upload speed 512kbps.

What speed do I need for cloud computing applications such as Dropbox and iCloud?

When you send documents and files to the cloud or Dropbox, you need a good upload speed (and a good download speed to retrieve them). The bigger the files, the longer they will take to upload.

Upload speeds vary between broadband providers but, perhaps surprisingly, Virgin Media tends to offer slower upload speeds than most of its competitors, despite its speedy download speeds. You’ll only get close to a 36Mbps upload speed on Virgin’s 350Mbps deal, while top-end fibre deals with the likes of BT, Plusnet and Sky normally offer upload speeds up to 110Mbps.

What speed do I need for online gaming?

Multiplayer games online on Xbox, PlayStation or PC don’t just need fast speeds, but stable connections too. Bad stability manifests itself in the form of things called latency and packet loss, which manifest as slow response times during gameplay.

Gamers should head over to our guide on broadband for gaming for the lowdown on what to look for in a broadband connection if you want to get the edge in gaming.

Check speeds in your area

What Broadband Speed Do I Need For Streaming? | 4K TV, UHD, Netflix (2024)


What Broadband Speed Do I Need For Streaming? | 4K TV, UHD, Netflix? ›

Netflix suggests a minimum download speed of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) to view content in 4K or Ultra HD. In contrast, you only need a minimum speed of 5Mbps to watch in high definition (HD) and can get by with 3Mbps if you're viewing in standard definition (SD).

What Internet speed do I need to watch Netflix in 4K? ›

To watch Netflix in Ultra HD, you need:

A 60Hz TV or computer monitor compatible with Ultra HD streaming from Netflix. A steady internet connection speed of 15 megabits per second or higher.

What Internet speed do I need for 4K UHD? ›

Ultra HD Streaming Video Data Usage

Also known as 4K (2160p), this resolution uses five times more data than HD video and requires at least 25 Mbps of bandwidth.

How much Internet speed is required for 4K Smart TV? ›

If you want to stream standard definition (SD) content, you ll need an internet connection with minimum speed of 3Mbps, whereas for streaming high-definition (HD) content, minimum speed requirement is 5Mbps. If you want to stream movies and TV series in 4K resolution, minimum speed of 25Mbps is necessary.

Is 100 Mbps enough for 4K Netflix? ›

If you want to stream 4K content to get the best picture for your 4K smart TV, you'll need a connection of at least 25 Mbps. Lower-resolution content is less demanding, but even streaming 1080p HD video will require a 10 Mbps plan for smooth performance.

Is 100 Mbps fast enough for 4K streaming? ›

A good internet speed is anywhere between 25 and 100 Mbps. Speeds of 25 Mbps allow up to 2 devices to stream, surf the web and check emails. 50 to 100 Mbps allow a few more people to stream in HD or even 4K, stream music, game, browse social media, and work from home.

Is Netflix Ultra HD 4K worth it? ›

Will You Watch 4K Movies and Shows? Netflix has a wealth of 4K content which streams at 3840 x 2160 pixels. This means the picture contains more data and therefore looks sharper and more detailed, especially on large screens. Some Netflix content supports Dolby Vision and HDR10.

Is WiFi fast enough for 4K streaming? ›

Online streaming remains the biggest source of 4K content, led by Netflix and Amazon's growing selection of original series. But many consumer broadband connections aren't fast enough to allow reliable 4K streaming. Amazon recommends at least 15 megabits per second, while Netflix advises 25 Mbps.

Is 300 Mbps enough for 4K streaming? ›

For instance, watching online video in ultra-HD (4K) quality would require a download speed of 25Mbps on each device. You can therefore watch on up to 12 devices at the same time if you have a 300Mbps connection.

Is 200 Mbps good for 4K streaming? ›

200 Mbps is enough for the majority of households, presuming 2–4 users with regular habits like Facebook, Netflix, and the occasional video call. 200 Mbps is sufficient for 4K streaming, but may cause issues if you attempt to stream to multiple devices at the same time over WiFi.

Is 100 Mbps fast enough for Netflix? ›

For most folks working from home, a cable internet plan with at least 100 Mbps download speeds will be good enough to get work done and stream Netflix at the same time (we won't judge you).

Will a 4K TV work with slow internet? ›

If you need to stream your 4K video content over the Internet, you'll need a considerably fast connection. According to Netflix, viewers need “a steady Internet connection speed of 25 megabits per second or higher” to enjoy its 4K content.

Is 30mbps enough for 4K? ›

Typical streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix require between 15-25 Mbps to stream content, so 30 Mbps should be fast enough to stream videos from standard to 4k HD definition.

Is 50Mbps fast enough for 4K? ›

Streaming TV and movies in SD, HD or 4K UHD. For standard definition (SD) streaming you'll need at least an average speed of 3Mbps, for HD 5-8Mbps and for 4K UHD you'll need 25Mbps minimum, but we recommend a connection of 50Mbps to cover all scenarios (live 4K broadcasts require more speed, for example).

Is it worth getting 1000 Mbps internet? ›

In other words, even with a gigabit (1000 Mbps) connection, you probably won't get gigabit speeds when downloading from Steam. In general, you can browse the web and do most of your daily tasks just fine even on fairly slow connections.

What broadband speed do I need for smart TV? ›

Smart TVs need an Internet speed of around 5 Megabits per second (Mbps). That will allow you to watch movies or programs on your smart TV with at least 720p resolution and with very few hiccups in the streaming.

How much bandwidth does 4K 60fps use? ›

Distributing video, especially in resolutions such as 4K/UHD, requires a tremendous amount of bandwidth. 4K60 video (2160p60), for example, requires 12 Gbps of bandwidth to support a full color image with no compression.

How do I enable 4K on Netflix? ›

Here's how to do it.
  1. Use Netflix's “Search” function and type “UHD” in the box. A list of shows, series, and movies will appear. ...
  2. Next, you can tell if a title is available in higher quality by clicking the “More Info” option.
  3. If you click on a show, it will show “4K Ultra HD” below the title.
May 15, 2022

How do I force Netflix to play 4K? ›

Head to netflix.com, log in, and then choose a profile. Click the profile image in the top-right corner, and then select “Account.” Under “My Profile,” select “Playback Settings.” Select “High” if you want to ensure maximum quality.

Can you tell a difference between 1080p and 4K? ›

4k and 1080p refer to the resolution of the display. A 1080p TV has 1920 horizontal pixels and 1080 vertical pixels, while a 4k TV has 3840 horizontal pixels and 2160 vertical. It can get confusing because 1080p refers to the number of vertical pixels (1080), but 4k refers to the number of horizontal pixels (3840).

Is 2.4 GHz good for 4K streaming? ›

4K Needs the 5 GHz Channel

On the 2.4 GHz frequency band, every device in the area competes for bandwidth—nearby routers, Bluetooth gadgets, kitchen appliances, and even baby monitors.

Do you need a special router to stream 4K? ›

Routers for 4K Streaming FAQs

At a minimum, you need a router that supports at least 25 Mbps. However, you'll want to consider your internet behavior and whether multiple users will be using the internet to stream simultaneously. If so, then your router should support at least 25 Mbps per user.

Is 500 Mbps internet fast? ›

By most definitions, anything above 100 Mbps is considered “fast.” Once you start getting close to 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps), the internet plan is called a “gigabit” service.

How fast is 600 Mbps internet speed? ›

Download (up to 600Mbps)
Download (up to 600Mbps)At 600Mbps:
2-Hour HD Movie (4.5GB)1 min.
Upload (up to 20Mbps)At 20Mbps:
50 Pictures (100MB total)42 sec.
Video to YouTube (500MB)3 min., 29 sec.
6 more rows

What internet speed do I need for Netflix? ›

To watch Netflix in HD, you need:

A Standard or Premium Netflix plan. A connection speed of at least 5 megabits per second. Video quality set to Auto or High.

Is 500 Mbps good for 4K? ›

With a download speed of 500Mbps, you can do almost anything you'd like to do at the same time on the internet, on multiple devices at the same time. For instance, you can watch online video on 20 devices at the same time in ultra-HD (4K) quality.

What download speed do I need for 4K streaming? ›

(Netflix recommends a 25 Mbps speed for streaming 4K, while Amazon says you'll need at least 15 Mbps for the highest-quality video.) That means many homes with multiple active streamers will need internet service that can provide at least 50 Mbps speed.

Is 20Mbps good for 4K streaming? ›

4k streaming usually requires around 15.4Mbps … so you would need to get yourself a 20Mbps package.

Is 100Mbps enough for 4K YouTube? ›

As such, YouTube doesn't have an official recommended speed yet, but we suggest having a connection with at least 100 Mbps download speed and unlimited data. If you want to watch YouTube videos in 4K resolution, you're going to need an internet connection that can sustain a speed of 20 Mbps.

How many devices can 100Mbps handle? ›

If you're using a broadband internet connection with download speeds of 100Mbps, you can comfortably stream ultra-HD quality video on up to 4 devices at the same time.

Is 50 Mbps fast enough for Netflix? ›

We recommend an internet plan with at least 50 Mbps download speeds if you enjoy streaming Netflix. This ensures that your connected devices and one other person can get online and not flip a table over maddeningly slow internet speeds while you watch Schitt's Creek.

Is 40 Mbps good for 4K streaming? ›

Recommended internet speeds for streaming

In general, to stream most videos in standard definition, you'll need download speeds of at least 3 Mbps. You need at least 25 Mbps for 4K streaming video on your computer or Ultra HD-enabled devices.

What internet speed do I need for Samsung Smart TV? ›

Recommended download speeds are: Basic Streaming - 1.5Mb or 1,500K. HD Streaming - 5Mb or 5,000K. Full HD or Super HD Streaming - 10Mb or 10,000K.

What is considered fast internet? ›

One generally accepted rule of thumb is that anything above 100 Mbps is considered “fast” internet because it can connect multiple devices at once.

How can I boost up my internet speed? ›

Here's how to increase internet download speeds and get the most out of your internet connection:
  1. Restart your computer. ...
  2. Close unnecessary apps and programs. ...
  3. Disconnect other devices. ...
  4. Download one file at a time. ...
  5. Scan for viruses. ...
  6. Update drivers and firmware. ...
  7. Clear cookies.
Jun 3, 2022

What is a good broadband speed? ›

What is a good internet speed? Generally a good internet or broadband speed is around 11Mbps for standard broadband. A faster broadband speed would be between 11Mbps and 50Mbps. A very fast broadband speed would be 100Mbps or higher.

How many gigs does 4K streaming use? ›

To calculate the approximate download size of a 4K video, add 14 GB for each hour of video and/or . 233 GB for each minute of video. The download size of a 140-minute 4K video, for example, would be approximately (14 GB x 2) + (. 233 GB x 20) = 33 GB or .

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