5 Broadband tips for Netflix lovers
Here’s how to ensure you can watch your favourite streaming shows with
Want to get the most out of your Netflix subscription? Whether you’re already a regular Netflix binge watcher, or new to the streaming TV service, one of the best ways to maximise your experience is by finding the right broadband plan.
Not every plan is suited to the large amounts of data and bandwidth required to enjoy Netflix interruption-free. Here are our tips and picks for finding the best Netflix-ready plan (and for saving money when you do).
1. Find the fastest provider
If you’re unsure which telco’s service is best for Netflix, the company itself publishes a monthly leaderboard of the ISPs offering the fastest prime-time streaming speeds. The Netflix ISP Speed Index for March sees Telstra take out the top spot, followed closely by Exetel, Optus, iiNet, TPG, and Dodo/iPrimus.
While Telstra is #1, it’s important to note that all of these providers average speeds within 0.3Mbps of each other. Each of these telcos offers an overall similar performance, but actual speeds may vary depending on your location and the type of broadband technology you use (cable, fibre, ADSL2+ or wireless).
2. Rev up your NBN speed
If you’re already on an NBN plan, or in an NBN-ready area, you can increase broadband speeds by opting for a faster price tier. Customers on the 12Mbps Basic Evening Speed NBN plan can usually upgrade to a 25Mbps Standard Evening Speed connection for an extra $10 per month, depending on your ISP.
This should be more than fast enough for even 4K streaming, but if you want to give your home plenty of peak-hour wiggle room to avoid congestion, Standard Evening Plus Speeds (50Mbps) and Premium Evening Speeds (100Mbps) plans may also be available in your area.
3. Figure out your data usage
If you’re not a huge Netflix watcher, you may be paying your ISP for data you don’t actually need. Likewise, regular binge watchers will also need to make sure their broadband plan covers their monthly gigabyte use.
Depending on your selected quality setting, here’s the data Netflix can burn through every hour.
Low quality: 300MB per hour
Standard definition: 1GB per hour
High definition: 3GB per hour
Ultra HD (4K): 7GB per hour
So if you’re watching an average amount of 47 hours of Netflix each month, you’ll use around 47GB monthly for standard definition streaming, 141GB for high definition, and 329GB if you’re watching in 4K.
If you’re a light user or don’t need to watch in HD, you can probably get away with a plan of under 200GB per month (depending on the size of your household, and how you use the internet otherwise).
If you’re streaming Netflix every day, we recommend plans of at least 200GB for standard definition streaming, or 500GB if you’d prefer to watch in HD.
4. Jump to unlimited data
If 500GB or even 1000GB of data just doesn’t seem like enough, most providers now offer unlimited monthly data plans at affordable prices. Households who love HD streaming on multiple devices are most likely to benefit from an all-you-can-eat data plan, particularly if you also use your broadband for gaming, Skype, or other data-heavy activities.
You can sign on to unlimited data from as little as $30 per month, although this will depend on your choice of service provider, the technology used, and – for NBN users – your choice of speed.
5. Reconsider contracts
While your decision to go contract-free or month-to-month doesn’t affect your Netflix plan, it may affect what you’ll pay overall for your broadband service. There’s generally no monthly price difference between on-contract and monthly internet, but if you do decide to forgo the contract, you’ll inevitably be required to pay more at sign-up.
Using Optus as an example, if you sign up for a two-year contract, you’ll pay $0 in upfront costs (aside from possible charges for installation, although that’s separate from your actual plan pricing). But casual customers need to pay a $200 ‘start-up fee’ in addition to the per-month plan charges.
If you’re with Telstra, casual customers can pay up to $336 more in upfront costs when compared to users who’ve signed up for two-year contracts; this price includes a $120 ‘casual fee’, plus $216 for a Telstra Wi-Fi modem.