Netflix ranks ISPs based on video stream quality

By on January 28, 2011, 7:30 AM
Netflix has released a chart that ranks popular Internet service providers based on how well they deliver videos to users. "We find ourselves in the unique position of having insight into the performance of hundreds of millions of long duration, high-definition video streams delivered over the Internet," said Ken Florance, Netflix's director of content delivery.

By using a "time-weighted bitrate metric," the company has mapped the effective data throughput its subscribers receive over various big-name ISPs in the US and Canada. Netflix's top HD streams are about 4800 kilobits per second and the bitrate subscribers achieve varies due to throughput constraints. Naturally, a higher bitrate means better video quality.

Interestingly, the relatively small cable provider Charter scored highest on Netflix's chart, edging ahead of titans like Comcast, Time Warner, and Cox. Netflix found Century Tel, Frontier and Clearwire to offer the worst streaming quality, but that's not a major surprise. Century Tel and Frontier are DSL providers, while Clearwire offers wireless broadband.

Despite its growing fiber optics network, Verizon placed eighth on the US list. We assume that's because the company's DSL and FiOS figures are lumped together. Canadian providers Shaw and Rogers are neck and neck for first, while Bell Canada and Telus ranked a distant third and fourth. How satisfied are you with your ISP when it comes to video streaming?

User Comments: 6

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BlindObject said:

I have Comcast "Xfinity" and so far I have no problems, it streams hi-def videos with no hitch. Even though I barely stream, I usually just torrent a ton of stuff.

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Really doesn't surprise me that CenturyTel/CenturyLink scored so low. They never reach the speeds they promise, and we have always had troubles with them.

The odd thing is there is a local ISP that runs out on CenturyCraps copper, but has better service.

Mizzou Mizzou said:

A little surprised to see Charter at the top of the chart, they have service in this area ... may have to consider switching providers.

Guest said:

I have Charter and I couldn't be happier. I have the Plus Package which I believe is 8mbps downstream and I've never had any issues streaming anything HD or otherwise. I can have HD streaming on the tv, while gaming online, and downloading mp3's or updates on my phone with no slowdowns or anything.

Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

This "ranking" is kind of meaningless because it basically ranks ISPs according to:

1.) Who offers the highest bandwidth plans

2.) The number of subscribers to those high bandwidth plans

It doesn't really achieve anything more than that and certainly doesn't determine ISP "quality".

MarkHughes said:

I have Virgin Broadband, And for streaming its beyond useless, Its supposed to be 10meg but im lucky if I get 1.... Youtube vids have to be paused untill they have about 20% buffered to play through, BBC iPlayer also struggles but at least there is a download option.

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