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Tutorial: Calculate Bandwidth For Streaming Video

To stream video from the comfort of your home, you need something important. You can have a neat device, and sources for content. However, if you don’t have a good internet connection, it will not work. You will face endless wait times, stuttering, and screen freezes. No matter if you stream using one of the best Kodi addons for movies or these 10 best Android streaming apps. With this tutorial, we aim to give you some tips so you can calculate bandwidth for streaming video without issues. Find out the ideal bandwidth for HTPC configuration and get an adequate internet speed for streaming, with this guide. [Read: Terrarium TV Android App: a better way to stream media]

Calculate Bandwidth for Streaming image
Learn how to estimate the appropriate bandwidth for your streaming needs with this guide.

Calculate Bandwidth for Streaming Video

First, we need to know that bandwidth is a measurement of how much information you can get through a connection in any given time. The more bandwidth you have, the more you pay. An optimal Internet speed for streaming video, should let you watch your content without lagging or stuttering. Fortunately, these speeds are now more commonplace than they used to be years ago. The real issue that makes you want to calculate bandwidth for streaming is now the cost of higher speeds. But what factors influence the minimum speed we can choose? There are three, basically.

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1. Price

The price will not limit your minimum speed. Instead, you will find that this factor will make you consider options above a certain one as off-limits. To decide what plan you want, the first thing you should do would be decide what plans you don’t want: those that might be too expensive for you.

2. Video quality

This is perhaps the most important factor when deciding what minimum speed should your internet connection have. To calculate bandwidth for HTPC streaming you have to know the speed at which data has to be transferred from the server to watch your media. This varies across providers, so we will give you some estimates for most popular services.

  • Netflix: 5 Mbps (HD)
  • Amazon Video: 3.5 Mbps (HD)
  • YouTube: 4Mbps (HD)
Bandwidth for HTPC quality
Some services let you select quality of the stream you will watch, which is an useful feature to tweak performance even further.

In general, you want about a 20 or 25% more speed than what you need to stream a video from a source. Since most services need under 5Mbps, a good starting point would be a 6Mbps plan. However, I have been able to stream successfully from data speeds as low as 4Mbps. [Read: Guide: How to install YouTube Kodi addon]

3. Number of devices

Your internet speed for streaming might be affected by other devices in the network as well. Anything, from a smartphone to a home server can slow down your connection. If people at your home are streaming from similar sources, then your data plan should consider two (or more) video streams as needed. For example, if two people stream from Netflix at the same time, then you would have a base requirement of 10Mbps. Adding a 20 or 25% to that (to account for other devices) would put you at 12Mbps or higher. Luckily, most basic plans already offer similar speeds.

Internet speed for streaming multiple devices
The number of devices connected to your modem/router is also important, so watch out for that!

Final considerations for bandwidth for HTPC

Keep in mind that the Internet connection is a shared resource, so peak hours of viewing might affect your download speed even if no other devices are present at home. This means, that the streams watched by your neighbors might slow down your connection. This happens when the amount of people trying to stream is higher than what the Internet service provider can handle in that area, and there is no workaround for that.

Sometimes you can improve your network performance by using a VPN for your streams, since you might be getting data from a different route within the internet with fewer slowdowns, and also keeping your browsing safe. Keep in mind also that these calculations are mostly informative, and in the end, if the data plan you have is not working, you should consider other factors such as coverage in your area, or even consider changing your provider. Happy streaming!

About the author

Alejandro

Alejandro is an electrical engineer, working as a software developer and part-time writer. He has a passion for technology, languages and games, and has been around the web since 2004.

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