India has roughly 430 million internet subscribers, out of which 21 million have wired broadband connection, whereas 400 million subscribers have wireless internet access. The wireless internet users include the ones who use internet on their smartphones, or using dongles and Mi-Fi devices. And with the rise in internet users, OTT services such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Hotstar among others have also gained popularity.
A decade ago, when there was dial-up internet access, internet speeds used to peak at 64Kbps, and as we progressed to broadband, the speed slowly started improving to 256Kbps (minimum broadband requirement), and today we can see peak broadband speeds of up to 100Mbps. Smartphones today, right from affordable ones to high-end ones, feature 4G connectivity and telecom operators are offering speeds up to 30Mbps or more.
On an average, internet speed in India is about 8Mbps according to a recent report, with India ranking 109 globally. Reliance Jio has played a crucial role in introducing high-speed 4G connectivity in India, and disrupting the space with highly affordable internet. Today, you can get data plans with 2GB per day for around Rs 250, and validity of 28 days.
OTT players such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have introduced video playback in 4K UHD and HDR formats, and so having fast internet is very important. Whether you are accessing these services on your smartphone, using dongles such as the Google Chromecast or the Amazon Fire Stick, or whether you have a smart TV, you will need a good internet connection for a good experience.
A quick speed test check shows speeds of up to 7-10Mbps, but when you go ahead to stream a video, you run into buffering, and eventually, you have to reduce the quality for smooth playback. The issue sounds familiar? Well, you are not alone. But how much of bandwidth you really need to stream high-quality videos?
Internet speed requirements for streaming high-quality content
For those who aren’t aware, there is a minimum recommended internet speed for streaming videos on services such as YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar among others. If your internet isn’t fast enough, the video may run with hiccups due to buffering. To be able to stream a standard definition video smoothly, you’ll need an internet connection with speed of at least 2Mbps. However, if you want to stream HD, full HD or 4K videos, you’ll need even faster internet.
In case of Netflix, minimum speed requirement is 500Kbps (0.5Mbps), whereas the recommended speed requirement is 1.5Mbps. 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. And in case you wish to stream 4K HDR content, besides a minimum of 25Mbps connection, you will need 4K UHD TV with support for HDR and HEVC decoder.
Amazon Prime Video
Internet speed requirements for Amazon Prime Video are similar to Netflix. For standard definition content, you’ll need at least 1Mbps connection, whereas for HD (720p) and full HD (1080p) content, minimum speed of at least 3.5Mbps is required. Lastly, for streaming 4K UHD videos, having an internet connection with speed of at least 15Mbps or more is required.
Whether you are watching YouTube videos on your smartphone, laptop or on your Smart TV, the minimum internet speed requirements remain the same. For streaming HD (720p) content, you’ll need at least 2.5Mbps speed, for full HD videos, minimum speed requirement is 4Mbps, whereas for 4K UHD content, you need an internet connection with minimum speed of at least 15Mbps.
How and where to check internet speed
There are a lot of websites and apps out there that let you test the speed of your internet connection. The most popular service is Ookla’s speedtest, and you can perform a test by pointing your web browser to speedtest.net. Netflix has its own speed test tool, and you can test the connection by pointing your web browser to fast.com. You can even open Microsoft’s Bing Search, type ‘speed test’ in the search box and click on ‘start’ in the widget that appears there.