Netflix bandwidth is fast becoming a comparison benchmark for Internet Service Providers across the country and around the world. Which providers deliver the best bandwidth for Netflix customers and which ones provide the worst? Knowing the importance of this seemingly minor tidbit of information, a number of companies and sites have performed a series of tests to determine where the best bandwidth can be found. Here are there results. Be advised that most of these tests were performed under optimal conditions and your results may not necessarily be the same, although they should be close.
The Companies Surveyed in This Netflix Bandwidth Test
All the major players in the US ISP market have, at one time or another, had tests run on their service offerings to test Netflix Bandwidth. This includes everyone from Time Warner Cable to Google Fiber, with stops in between at Charter Communications, Google Fiber, Comcast XFINITY, Cox Communications, Verizon, and AT&T. However, not all of them are tested at the same time. I’m going to glean information from a number of tests so I can give you the widest range of information available.
The Providers Tested in Test No. 1
The image above presents the results derived from bandwidth tests between January of 2013 and January of 2014 of the following U.S. ISPs:
- Google Fiber
- Cox Communications
- Verizon DSL
- Verizon FiOS
- AT&T U-Verse
- AT&T DSL
- Comcast (XFINITY)
The Results of Test No. 1
Over the year that the test was run, three of the providers experienced general increased in their available Netflix bandwidth. These were Google Fiber, Cablevision, and Cox Communications.
- Google Fiber started the test delivering a bandwidth of 3.0 megabits per second (Mbps) and ended the year delivering an impressive 3.8 Mbps.
- Cablevision started the test delivering just over 2.2 Mbps and ended the test with in the neighborhood of 2.9 Mbps.
- Cox Communications started out delivering a bandwidth of just under 2.0 Mbps and ended up with about 2.7 Mbps of Netflix bandwidth.
The other four providers actually dropped off in the bandwidth they were able to deliver to Netflix subscribers over the year of testing.
- Verizon DSL started the test delivering a bandwidth of just over 1.3 Mbps and peaked at just over 1.4, while dropping off to a dismal score of under one Mbps.
- Verizon FiOS started the test with a score of just over 2.0 Mbps, peaked a few months later at just over 2.1 and then fell off sharply to just over 1.8 Mbps.
- AT&T’s U-verse service started the year of testing delivering a bandwidth of just over 1.8 Mbps, peaked for two months at 2.0 Mbps and then fell off sharply to end the year at just under 1.6 Mbps.
- AT&T DSL started off just under 1.4 Mbps, peaked three months later at two, and then also dropped off sharply to less than 1.1 Mbps.
- Comcast’s XFINITY service started with a tested speed that at 2.0 Mbps wasn’t too bad; however, after peaking at about 2.15 Mbps, they also fell off to just about 1.45 Mbps in January 2014.
Strangely enough (to me) Comcast’s bandwidth numbers dropped off sharply while they were in negotiations with Netflix to have Netflix pay them to guarantee that Netflix subscribers can always count on sufficient bandwidth to stream Netflix content enjoyably. In most cases, none of the test results shown above should detract from anyone’s streaming enjoyment, as long as nobody else is making demands on the available bandwidth in the home. You might have to wait a few seconds after queuing up the movie for it to buffer, but you shouldn’t see any problems during the stream.
Test No. 2: Published by Netflix
Netflix also performs test of the major providers that are used by their customers. You can find the results of one of these tests on their site. I’m going to talk here about the major players that weren’t represented in the first test above: Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable (Roadrunner), Mediacom, Bright House, and CenturyLink.
- Charter stayed fairly consistent over the 12-month period starting at just over 2.0 Mbps and ending just under 2.25.
- Time Warner Cable’s roadrunner service started and finished the test period with a Netflix bandwidth of right at two Mbps.
- Mediacom fluctuated, starting the test by delivering 2.0 Mbps and ending with 1.5 Mbps.
- Bright House, one of the country’s smallest providers, started the test with a measured bandwidth of 1.9 Mbps and ended up delivering just over 1.75 Mbps.
- CenturyLink started by delivering just over 1.6 Mbps and stayed fairly flat, ending up with the same speed.
As you can see from both tests, Charter Communication’s Internet service delivered the best Netflix bandwidth across the test period. Netflix rated them as optimum, the only provider to receive that rating.
There are ways, however, you can improve your Netflix streaming, so don’t fret if you are still just not getting smooth streaming for your movies and TV shows from your Netflix bandwidth.
Photo Credit: Netflix