Netflix speed test: How to check if you can stream 4K Ultra HD

An internet connection is to Netflix what gasoline is to a car. Without it, you can’t watch a show in real time or download one to watch later. Just like a car will accelerate faster with premium gas in the tank, the on-demand streaming service will perform better with a quicker connection. So, if you’re trying to stream something and it isn’t quite the 4K Ultra HD resolution you were expecting, chances are it’s your internet connection that’s to blame.

Don’t just take our word for it, though. There’s a simple experiment in the form of a broadband speed test any internet user can carry out to test their Netflix speed and to see whether their connection is at fault. If it is, chances are it’s because you’re trying to watch something during peak hours when everyone in your neighborhood is firing up their preferred on-demand streaming service. Here’s how to see if your internet is up to snuff to help you avoid Netflix streaming woes.

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The lowdown on Netflix streaming speed

Before we run through the steps required to execute a Netflix speed test, we first need to touch on the sort of results you can expect to see. In a nutshell, the average fixed broadband download speed in the U.S. as of February is 180.84 Mbps, according to Ookla — nearly twice as fast as the global average and more than twice as fast as the global average in terms of upload speed. That’s more than enough pull to stream two 4K Ultra HD shows at once over the same Wi-Fi network, with each requiring around 25Mbps to run smoothly.

Many homes only see a small fraction of the average U.S. household’s internet bandwidth of 30 Mbps. Add in multiple family members and their devices, and this internet speed shrinks even more. Many rural households have to make do with around a third of the nationwide average (30Mbps) to distribute across the various devices using the network at any given time. This amount should be enough bandwidth to stream one show in 4K Ultra HD on one TV. If you’re receiving anything under 10Mbps and there’s more than one product using the internet, you’ll be hard-pressed to stream something in Full HD, let alone 4K Ultra HD.

Here are the download speeds Netflix recommends (again, for one stream), starting with the minimum download speed.

  • SD — 3Mbps
  • Full HD — 5Mbps
  • 4K Ultra HD — 25Mbps

How to test your Netflix speed

After discovering how much broadband speed you need to smoothly stream Netflix’s movies and shows, you want to make sure your network speed is up to par. To do this, navigate to Fast.com, which is Netflix’s speed test tool, on your mobile or desktop device. After the page loads, it will check your device and Wi-Fi and compute how fast Netflix runs on your computer. It only takes a few seconds for the results of the speed test to show up on your screen. If it’s a few Mbps (no more than 10) less than what you’re paying for, there’s no immediate cause for concern — the speed fluctuates more than the value of Bitcoin.

Make sure you know your internet speed because if Fast.com shows that your browser or Netflix app is streaming more than 10Mbps slower than your advertised speed, something’s wrong. A decrease like that in your speed will affect how your shows stream. Fortunately, we have an in-depth look at everything you can do to get Netflix back to serving up piping-hot bowls of 4K Ultra HD content in no time. If you’re streaming during high traffic times, then it’s only natural that you’ll get a slower speed. If your stream is constantly rebuffering or pausing, you’ll need to call your internet service provider and report the problem.

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