Q. I bought a 4K TV and I think the easiest way to watch shows in 4K is streaming from Netflix, Amazon Prime and Vudu. But I was wondering what speed do you need for your Internet to watch 4K? Is it supposed to be faster than normal? — Sam, Landover, Maryland.
Sam, I agree with you that streaming services such as those you mentioned provide the best, and least expensive, way to watch 4K now. The regular cable channels such as TNN, TBS, HBO, and the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox) are not broadcasting in 4K yet. (The exception: CBS and Fox have produced some sporting events in 4K, which can be seen on specialty channels on pay TV services such as DIRECTV and Comcast.)
There are also a growing lineup of 4K Blu-ray titles, but they are expensive to buy ($20 and up) and there are few rental options. (Redbox, the kiosk rental service, offers 4K titles in just 15 markets.)
So, 4K streaming is where it’s at. But where should your Internet service be, you ask?
Most streamers, such as Netflix, advocate that your Internet speed be a minimum of 25 Mbps to watch a program in 4K. Otherwise, your show will likely experience technical hiccups, known as buffering, causing the picture to freeze or go black for a period of time.
However, that doesn’t mean your Internet service provides speeds up to 25 Mbps; instead, it should average 25 Mbps, which means you will likely need one that offers speeds up to 50 Mbps or more.
No Internet service provides a constant speed; it goes up and down depending upon factors such as your connection, and whether multiple people are using it at the same time on a WiFi network. So you want the maximum potential speed to be high enough so your picture won’t be interrupted if the speed dips a bit.
By the way, the 25 Mbps benchmark is quite higher than the one for high-def programming. Netflix suggests 5 Mbps for HD.
To learn more about Netflix’s Internet speed recommendations, click here.
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