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Smart TV Streaming: Detailed information on internet connection types and recommended speed

What type of internet connection do I need?

DSL Pricing Chart Example

In short you will need to connect your blu-ray player or television to a high-speed cable modem, DSL, or fiber optic service. When choosing an internet company, you need to look carefully at the speed of the service plans they offer. Internet connection speeds are typically measured in Mbps (mega bits per second). The higher the Mbps, the faster your internet connection. Internet service providers offer a number of different plans ranging from low speed to very high speed. See the graphic to the right showing four different plans one service provider offers. I have highlighted the different service speeds. Keep in mind, that many companies offer an introductory rate for the first several months. If you choose one of these plans your rate may go up significantly at the end of the introductory period.

How fast should my internet connection be?

To enjoy the best quality high-definition video from services like Netflix and Vudu we recommend a 5 Mbps or faster connection. It should be pointed out that while most services can work with slower connections they simply will not provide the best video quality or you may experience pauses or hiccups in your programs.

How do I test the speed of my internet connection?

Vudu Internet Speed Test

You can easily test the speed of your internet connection with a free tool offered by Vudu Click here to test the speed of your connection. This tool will give you the speed of your connection measured in Mbps. Remember the target speed to stream the best quality video is 5 Mbps or better.

For the speed test results to be accurate, they should be done on the same internet connection your blu-ray player or television is plugged into. Further, if your blu-ray player or television is connected wirelessly, the test should be on a wireless device such as a laptop computer.

You can see an example of the results screen in the graphic to the left. What we want to focus on is the download speed (highlighted in the graphic). That is what is important for streaming video. The result of this test was 3.514 Mbps (1000 kpbs = 1 Mbps). Because this number is less than the recommended 5 Mbps, you should consider upgrading your service plan to enjoy the best available quality.

My Speed Is Over 5 Mbps But I'm Still Having Problems Streaming High-Definition

We have seen this issue a number of times in homes where the speed of the internet connection is close to or even over 5 Mbps. It is important to understand that the speed of your connection is not constant and varies based on a number of factors. If you are on the "bubble" of a 5 Mbps connection, certain factors could cause your speed to dip and disrupt your ability to stream high-defintion video. Some of these variables include:

  • Time Of Day - Certain types of internet connections, namely cable modems, are shared connections. This means that multiple households in your neighborhood are connected to the same internet "pipeline". The more people in the neighborhood using the internet at the same time the slower your speeds may be. With these types of connections, it is common to experience slow downs during peak periods such as in the morning before work, when kids get home from school, and when people are returning from work.
  • Type of Connection (wired or wireless) - When possible we recommend a hard wired connection from your internet modem/router to your blu-ray player or television. Wireless connections are often slower than hard wired connections and are susceptible to interference that could interrupt a constant high-speed connection.
  • Other Family Members - The speed of the internet connection coming into your home is shared amongst all the users in your home. Generally speaking, day-to-day web surfing and e-mail has very little affect on the overall speed of your network connection. However, if other members in the house are watching YouTube, listening to Pandora, uploading or downloading files, or streaming their own content, it will slow down your internet speed.
  • Hardware - The age of your modem/router can impact the speed of your internet connection. Electronic manufacturers make improvements to their products from model year to model year. If your modem/router is more than a couple of years old, it may not support the fastest speed available.

My Connection Is Too Slow, How Can I Speed It Up?

DSL Pricing Chart Example

The easiest way to speed up your connection is simply call your internet service provider and inquire about an enhanced plan. Sticking with the same company usually means you can keep the same equipment and will not have to change any settings on your computer. When upgrading, remember to ask about special pricing and be sure to choose a plan with a speed of 5 Mbps or faster.

If your current provider does not have an appropriate plan, you can always compare the competition. If available, I recommend considering fiber optic internet service, such as Verizon Fios, for very fast, albeit more expensive pricing (see graphic at right). To get the best pricing, you will likely need to bundle internet, phone, and television service. Furthermore, you will likely need to swap your modem and change your network settings.

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