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

Friday, September 27th, 2013 (12:34 pm) - Score 7,664

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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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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