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Headache for Broadband ISPs as Netflix UK Add Super HD Movie Streams

Posted Friday, September 27th, 2013 (12:34 pm) by Mark Jackson (Score 5,758)
broadband internet video and movie streaming

Netflix UK‘s unlimited movie and TV streaming service has been upgraded to support a higher bit rate Super HD (Super High Definition) video stream that applies less compression to the 1080p image, which means that those with faster connections should get a better quality.

Regular readers might recall that the service initially launched with support for 720p HD video streams and later upgraded to add 1080p, which customers could take advantage of provided their broadband connections offered a stable speed of 5Mbps (Megabits per second). It’s understood that the new Super HD stream will need up to 7Mbps for the best quality.

Joris Evers, Netflix’s Director of Corporate Comms, said:

We initially rolled out Super HD in January only through ISPs with a direct connection to Netflix. Based on the performance data we’ve seen, and in response to member requests, we are now expanding availability to give all our members the ability to enjoy Netflix in the best possible quality.

Netflix uses “adaptive streaming” to dynamically adjust the video quality based on the available bandwidth. This means that the ability to receive Super HD depends on broadband quality and performance. Netflix members who subscribe to an ISP with a direct Netflix connection will get the best experience.”

At present not all devices support the new stream, although the following should work: Sony PlayStation 3, Apple TV with 1080p, Roku with 1080p (the Super HD logo might not show but it does support it), Nintendo Wii U, Windows 8 App, TiVo Premiere DVR. In addition, Blu-Ray Players, Smart TV’s, Home Theaters and Streaming Players with existing Netflix 1080p support should also work (many of these may not display the Super HD logo but most do support it).

Naturally the extra quality might give a headache to some providers and that’s one reason why Netflix are attempting to encourage ISPs to adopt Netflix Open Connect, which is their “highly optimized video content delivery network” that’s available at no cost to broadband providers.

Meanwhile Netflix’s latest Speed Index ratings for August 2013, which reflect the average performance of all Netflix video streams on each ISP and should thus not be taken as a measure of general end-user internet connection capability, suggests that many people are still using well below 7Mbps. On the other hand video streams are dynamic and some scenes will need more speed than others.

Netflix UK Major ISP Rankings

1 – Virgin Media 2.65Mbps (up from 2.57Mbps in Jun 2013)

2 – BT 2.39Mbps (up from 2.36Mbps in Jun 2013)

3 – O2 2.35Mbps (up from 2.30Mbps in Jun 2013)

4 – Sky Broadband 2.27Mbps (up from 2.22Mbps in Jun 2013)

5 – EE 2.24Mbps (up from 2.19Mbps in Jun 2013)

6 – TalkTalk 2.21Mbps (up from 2.17Mbps in Jun 2013)

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15 Responses
  1. Phil

    Virgin Media work best with Netflix Super HD and also Plusnet too. Both running smooth with Super HD with my apple tv 1080P.

  2. DTMark

    How can it be that our streaming rate over 3G is about 3Meg, so I suppose, about level with Virgin Media give-or-take, and fixed line services don’t even match that? Mind you they’re all quite close.

    While the compression is very clever, you can see it in action e.g. in a “Breaking Bad” episode, don’t watch the bit in the middle where the motion is, focus on the detail around the periphery especially in for instance the desert scenes.

    It’s acceptable for now with TV technology as it is. But it won’t be very long before we think of 7Meg streams in the same way that we think of ISDN connection speeds.

    • Michael

      “It’s acceptable for now with TV technology as it is. But it won’t be very long before we think of 7Meg streams in the same way that we think of ISDN connection speeds.”

      4k will be the norm within 3 years, some games already support it and some youtube vids are 4k already. That will require around 4 times the speed of these 7Mb streams or around 28Mb. SO much for our governments planned 2Mb for all and hopes of 25Mb and higher if you are lucky being acceptable in the next few years LOL

    • Ignitionnet

      Perhaps a tad optimistic expecting 4k to become standard in 3 years given how few displays support it right now.

      Quite a jump adding the extra 1.5 million pixels to the display and it’ll be cost prohibitive to most. 1080p will still be the ‘standard’ with 4k perhaps niche and extreme enthusiast.

    • Roberto

      Not really, the first 1080p HDTV BROADCAST content in this country arrived in 2006.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-definition_television_in_the_United_Kingdom

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blu-ray_Disc
      The first consumer bluray device “arrived in stores on April 10, 2003″

      Youtube only came about back in 2005, within 3 years on that 720p and 1080p content arrived
      1080p on youtube only arrived in 2009 believe it or not…
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YouTube#Quality_and_codecs

      A year later 2010 they had their first 4k content

      Within 3-5 years 4k will be normal, both in terms of what a TV in a store can support and new media players. In fact id guess there will be loads of youtube content at 4k resolution within 2 years using h.265 as its codec. Probably before.

    • Ignitionnet

      You just kinda proved my point. The first 1080p POC might’ve been in 2006 but HD in the UK is 1080i as a general rule.

      4K has a way to go before it gets to mainstream prices. An awful lot of people are still using TVs that only do 1080i or have PQ that doesn’t to 1080p justice let alone 2160p.

      It’ll be interesting to see just how long the drag is between 4k POC and mainstream acceptance. There is the small matter of the media to support the thing as well as hardware assistance for decoding the codecs.

    • Roberto

      Er in 2006 it was not a proof of concept that is when Sky started offering HD to the public and their HD boxes…
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sky%2B_HD

      3 years before HDTV (IE 2003) was when bluray was in stores.

      3 years after HDTV (IE 2009) is when youtube started offering 720p and 1080

      Spotting a pattern yet in how many years go by??? Add on another 3 years and guess what the next TV breakthrough is.

      4k Does not have a way to go before it is mainstream. There are already TVs well under the £1000 mark which you can still easily pay for a large 1080p screen…
      http://www.shophq.com/Seiki_50_Slim_LED_4K_Ultra_HD_120Hz_HDTV_w_HDMI_Cable_Two_Year_Extended_Warranty/437-325.aspx
      as an American example (that works out to about £890)

      Decoding is already taken care of and uses H.265.

    • Roberto

      PS Sony also already have a 4k media streaming device available.

  3. Bloke

    Well those of us who were 10 years ahead of the curve are thankful that average consumers are now actually using their bandwidth, now the ISPs either have to threaten everybody with disconnection or STFU already.

    • Ignitionnet

      ISPs expect customers to chew through 200-500kbps at peak times now.

      People ’10 years ahead of the curve’ have gone from 100GB to multiple-TB and remain a lot of standard deviations above normal. Streaming is bandwidth intensive but still doesn’t come close to people leeching what were CD ISOs, then became DVD ISOs and now Blu Ray ISOs.

      When the next evolution in storage comes out and its DRM is broken I’m sure those ‘ahead of the curve’ will again jump up in usage as they download those.

    • Roberto

      The amount of bandwidth people consume has more than doubled over the past couple of years there was a story a few months back on this very site. It is no longer unusual for people to consume hundreds of gigs. The people doing TB are a minority 200+gig though is normal and common.

    • Ignitionnet

      The average usage is still way under 100GB, not 200GB+.

    • Roberto

      Not sure where you get common usage is “WAY UNDER” 100GB a survey here not long ago showed most did OVER 60GB. Unfortunately i can not find the story still that pointed out around a third hit 200GB.

  4. Bloke

    PS, it’s not ‘Super HD’ It’s simply HD that hasn’t been ruined by gross over-compression, just look at any youtube 1080p video with a moving background to see what over-compression looks like.

    • Ethel Prunehat

      Another place you can see horrible compression artefacts is on TV channels on Virgin Media’s services. It’s not just one channel or one install I’m talking about, I’ve seen this in multiple people’s houses [the Mrs’s side of the family all seem to be VM subscribers]. I’ve no idea why they put up with it.

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