An internet connection to Netflix is what gasoline is for a car. Without it, you can't watch a show in real time or download one to watch later. Just as if a car will accelerate faster with higher final fuel, the on-demand streaming service will work better with a smart connection. So if you're trying to stream something and it's not quite in the 4K Ultra HD resolution you expected, it's likely that it's your Internet connection that's at fault.
But don't just take our word for it. There is a simple experiment you can perform to test your Netflix speed to check if your connection is wrong. If so, it is likely that you are trying to watch something during festive hours when everyone in your neighborhood fires their preferred streaming services on request to catch the latest must-see show while eating at a microbrew meal and drinking a glass of cheap wine.
Here's how to see if your Internet is up to snuff to help you avoid Netflix streams.
What to know about Netflix streaming speed
Before we go through the steps required to perform frequently used Netflix speed tests, we must first touch on the type of results you can expect to see. In summary, the average download speed in the United States is a whopping 94 Mbps, according to Ookla ̵1; twice as fast as the global average. That's more than enough to stream two 4K Ultra HD programs at once, over the same Wi-Fi network, with each one needing at least 25 Mbps.
However, most households out in the sticks tend to get about a third of the nationwide average, or just 30 Mbps, to distribute over the entire network. There is enough bandwidth to stream a 4K Ultra HD show on a TV in a household. If you get anything under 10 Mbps and there is more than once a device using the internet, you will be hard pressed for a Full HD stream, let alone a high-resolution 4K Ultra HD device.
Here are download speeds Netflix recommends (again, for a stream):
- SD – 3Mbps
- Full HD – 5Mbps
- 4K Ultra HD – 25Mbps
How to test your Netflix speed
Now that we've cleaned it up, let's turn our attention to how to test your Netflix speed. The process itself could not be easier. Just go to Fast.com – the official Netflix speed test site – and wait for a number to be cast on the screen. Done? It's your current internet speed. If it is a few Mbps (maximum 10) less than you promised, there is no need to worry – the speed varies more than the value of Bitcoin.
If the speed is much less than you expected (let's say more than a 10 Mbps vintage) you may need to take action. Fortunately, we have an in-depth look at everything you can do to get Netflix back to serving pipelines with 4K Ultra HD content in no time. Just be aware that if the problem stems from a local rate of decline during the holidays, there is not much you can do outside of flagging the problem with your ISP.