Google Fiber tops brand-new Netflix ISP Speed Index

By on March 12, 2013, 2:30 PM

Netflix has launched its new Netflix ISP Speed Index which promises to show consumers the top ISPs for streaming movies and TV shows through its service. The new website will be updated monthly and can make country-specific or International comparisons utilizing data collected from over 33 million subscribers.

Not surprisingly, Google Fiber tops the charts in the U.S. with an average streaming bitrate of 3.5Mbps. That figure also bests ISPs internationally, making Google Fiber possibly the world's most worry-free choice for Netflix streaming. Sweden's Ownite was the global runner-up, delivering an average of 2.99Mbps of data to Netflix customers.

Of course, Google's service area is currently only two cities -- Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, KS -- but the company has voiced its interest in expanding Google Fiber to other areas.

CableVision Optimum, meanwhile, is America's distant runner-up at 2.35Mbps while the primary mass of cable and fiber-based Internet providers hover close to the 2Mbps mark. Meanwhile, a plethora of DSL services round out the bottom half with WiMax provider ClearWire at the bottom of the list with roughly 1.2Mbps.

To make these numbers useful, it is important to know what Netflix requires. In this support document, Netflix informs its subscribers:

There are 3 settings to choose from:

  • Good quality (uses up to 0.3 GB per hour)
  • Better quality (uses up to 0.7 GB per hour)
  • Best quality (uses up to 1 GB per hour, up to 2.8 GB per hour if watching HD, or up to 4.7 GB per hour if watching 3D)

Simply put, if you're watching SD video content, "Good" quality requires 0.66Mbps, "Better" needs 1.56Mbps and "Best" requires at least 2.22Mbps of bandwidth. For HD content though, the numbers grow quite a bit higher. "Best" quality HD video clocks in at 6.22Mbps while 3D content chews up a formidable 10.4Mbps of bandwidth.

Given Netflix's significant impact on the world's Internet bandwidth, the company has been pushing ISPs to utilize its Open Connect content delivery network to help alleiviate the strain. ISPs can choose either peering with Netflix at common web junctions or locally install Netflix-caching appliances on their network.

Earlier this year, Time Warner Cable accused Netflix of discrimination due to its Open Connect CDN. It stated its belief that ISPs who participate in the system give Netflix "unprecedented preferential treament" over alternative video streaming services.




User Comments: 9

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pretzelwagon said:

The comparison is somewhat misleading, though. The speeds at this level of average clearly depend on the subscriber's paid data throughput rate more than the ISP's ability to provide a high speed connection. Sure, the geographic availability of various tiers does impact an ISP's ability to have a heightened average, but this weighs more on the consumer than anything.

Staff
Jesse Jesse said:

The comparison is somewhat misleading, though. The speeds at this level of average clearly depend on the subscriber's paid data throughput rate more than the ISP's ability to provide a high speed connection. Sure, the geographic availability of various tiers does impact an ISP's ability to have a heightened average, but this weighs more on the consumer than anything.

I wouldnt be so sure... The throughput doesn't seem to be related to the line speed. Comcast has mostly 20mbps lines, and they're at 2.06mbps on the chart, while Google Fiber is 1gbps, and is only pushing 3.35mbps. Doesn't seem to be related to overall speed of the subscriber's line.

RH00D RH00D said:

I still wouldn't stream movies... A Blu-Ray usually averages around 25 Mbps... So as you can imagine, 3.5 Mbps is still way too low for me. It's not even that I like or dislike Blu-Ray/streaming, I just like high bit rate in audio/video. I guess other people aren't as picky about the quality of their movies.

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

I get 1080p over the internet via streaming just have to have the right connection with the ISP of course it not cheap though. B-Ray media doesn't seem to be has hot as it was with the first DVD came out. Vudu service from Walmart and it's HDX 5.1 Dolby Digital & 1080p uses B-Ray streaming over a special account that is setup for you to stream these movies to your network media device, like SONY SMP-N200 an etc. I've tested it works nice you need at least 9mbp down.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I have the standard Star Wars DVD, and Blue-ray version. I have to pause them to really see a difference in picture quality. Blue-ray picture quality is sharper, has better colors, etc. But the lower-def DVD version still is the same movie and looks just fine.

I only say that, because some image quality loss is actually quite tolerable. The streaming and compression that Netflix does degrade the picture quality, but not to the point where the movie is incomprehensible. The picture quality of Netflix streaming is acceptable for an $8/mo service.

1 person liked this | St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Not all blurays are created equal, even AAA movies made today. A proper bluray is noticable on a 720p screen, compared to an up-scaled DVD. It's noticeable to everyone.

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Interesting and informative, but still pointless, I wasn't aware how much bandwidth was actually required to use Netflix (I had my suspicions) and now I know it would absolutely destroy my monthly cap if I tried to watch HD content regularly. Even with the best setting I would only get an avg of 4 hours a day, assuming I don't use my connection for anything else. Really it's the only thing holding me back. Not sure how Google with its Gb/s connection scores a 3.5 Mbp/s, heck I can stream from steam at 3.5-4 MB/s (not Mb/s) so presumably I'd rank nearly as high?

RH00D RH00D said:

I have the standard Star Wars DVD, and Blue-ray version. I have to pause them to really see a difference in picture quality. Blue-ray picture quality is sharper, has better colors, etc. But the lower-def DVD version still is the same movie and looks just fine.

I only say that, because some image quality loss is actually quite tolerable. The streaming and compression that Netflix does degrade the picture quality, but not to the point where the movie is incomprehensible. The picture quality of Netflix streaming is acceptable for an $8/mo service.

Are you watching the Blu-Ray on a 1080p screen? Because I have a hard time believing you can't see the difference between 345K and 2 Million pixels. That is roughly 6x more pixels. Also, I don't know why so many people skip over it, but bit rate has a lot to do with quality... Maybe I just see the difference more clearly because I watch movies on my 23" 1080p monitor from a fairly short viewing distance.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Are you watching the Blu-Ray on a 1080p screen? Because I have a hard time believing you can't see the difference between 345K and 2 Million pixels. That is roughly 6x more pixels. Also, I don't know why so many people skip over it, but bit rate has a lot to do with quality... Maybe I just see the difference more clearly because I watch movies on my 23" 1080p monitor from a fairly short viewing distance.

It could be chalked up to viewing distance. My TV is a 50" 1080p plasma, and my couch is more than 12' away. The appropriate sized TV is just not affordable enough to justify its expense with the amount of TV that I watch. When I was making my comparisons, it was on a PS3 with HDMI cables, and I was standing about 5 feet from the TV.

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