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Netflix’s 2014 vs 2015 UK Broadband Speed Index Sees Virgin Media Top

Thursday, December 31st, 2015 (1:48 am) - Score 1,830

Cable operator Virgin Media continues to hold the top spot in Netflix’s latest UK ISP Speed Index, which measures the popular Internet Movie and TV service’s video streaming performance on different broadband providers; but it doesn’t mean much.

Anybody taking a look at the latest results will immediately notice that they all come in at under 4Mbps (Megabits per second), which is slower than the broadband performance of most home connections. Suffice to say that Netflix’s Speed Index can be a little misleading, without the proper context.

The index is essentially a measure of “prime time” Netflix streaming performance per ISP and as such it should never be taken as a table that reflects the actual capability of your own broadband connection, as should be obvious from the results.

The ISP speeds thus appear to be quite slow because they can be influenced by various different factors, such as whether or not most people are streaming in a low bit-rate SD (Standard Definition), HD (High Definition) or 4K (ULTRA HD) video quality (the most popular packages are their cheaper SD and HD options).

Netflix’s Recommended Internet Download Speeds
* 0.5 Megabits per second – Required broadband connection speed
* 1.5 Megabits per second – Recommended broadband connection speed
* 3.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for SD quality
* 5.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for HD quality
* 25 Megabits per second – Recommended for Ultra HD quality

Several other aspects of your service can also impact the results, such as the dynamic nature of different video codecs (i.e. bitrates vary as the video stream changes), slow WiFi networks and an ISPs Traffic Management measures etc.

Netflix UK – Major ISP Rankings, Dec 2015 Report
1. Virgin Media 3.98Mbps
2. BT 3.78Mbps
3. Plusnet 3.48Mbps
4. TalkTalk 3.42Mbps
5. Sky Broadband 3.33Mbps
6. EE 3.27Mbps

Netflix UK – Major ISP Rankings, Dec 2014 Report
1. Virgin Media 3.49Mbps
2. BT 3.19Mbps
3. Sky Broadband 2.87Mbps
4. EE 2.82Mbps
5. TalkTalk 2.81Mbps

NetflixUK – Major ISP Rankings, Dec 2013 Report
1. Virgin Media 2.99Mbps
2. BT 2.66Mbps
3. Sky Broadband 2.44Mbps
4. TalkTalk 2.35Mbps
5. EE 2.32Mbps

Unfortunately we can’t read much into Netflix’s results, although ISPs with a faster streaming speed might well represent providers with a greater proportion of HD users and they in turn might be providers that have a greater number of customers on “superfast broadband” connections (i.e. it’s no surprise that Virgin Media come top).

We only wish that Netflix would publish a more useful data set, which could show the difference in performance between SD, HD and 4K streams, preferably alongside one that also revealed the speeds during different periods of the day (e.g. peak and off-peak).

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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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