There’s no denying the popularity of Netflix, with Australians signing up in their millions since the content streaming service was officially launched Down Under in March 2015.
We obviously love to watch content on demand, with shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black dominating our screens in place of traditional, free to air television. But in order to watch your favourite shows and movies properly, you’ll need to have a fast and reliable internet connection.
Australia is not well-known for its state-of-the-art internet speeds, slipping down to 60th place in the world in terms of average network performance, according to the latest statistics from Delimiter. These kinds of speeds are obviously not ideal for streaming TV shows and movies, so Netflix has its own speed index to measure and rank the performance of each Aussie internet service provider in terms of how well they stream its content.
How does Netflix calculate the speed rankings?
The Netflix ISP speed index lists the average primetime bitrate for content streamed to Netflix subscribers each month. They measure for all available end-user devices in Megabits per second (Mbps). You can then choose the country (in this case Australia) that you want to compare service providers for, and the website brings up the necessary information.
However, these speeds do not represent the maximum speed each service provider can give, as Netflix download speeds are likely to be slower during primetime hours (i.e. early evenings). So the speeds you can see on its website may actually be higher at certain points like early morning and mid-afternoon, as fewer people are likely to be tuned in.
It is important to remember that the absolute minimum internet speed required to watch Netflix is 0.5Mbps, but this will give a poor image quality. The better your speed, the higher resolution your viewing experience will be, and that is something we all want!
This table shows speed ranking for June 2016.
Of the six service providers that Netflix collects data for, the highest scoring was Optus. This is a dramatic improvement from the telco’s third place ranking at the same time last year. Optus offers an average primetime speed of 3.41 Mbps, which is a slight decrease from its recorded speed of 3.43 the previous month.
Up one position from the previous rankings, TPG comes in at number two in terms of Netflix speeds during primetime. The telco currently provides speeds of 3.19Mpbs, which is the same speed it offered last time, so clearly TPG is consistent with the speeds it brings.
Only slightly behind TPG at number three on this list, iiNet provides Netflix speeds of 3.17Mbps during primetime hours. While being at number three is good, it should be noted that at this stage last year, iiNet was the number one ranked ISP on this list, and was number two just last month. It might be worth monitoring iiNet’s Netflix speeds in the future to see how it tracks.
Exetel currently sits at number four in Netflix’s rankings with an average performance of 3.09Mbps during primetime hours. While it has remained unchanged in position over the past year, it should be noted that it has significantly improved in terms of download speed. At the same time last year, Exetel provided a speed of just 2.8Mbps. So you should also monitor Exetel over the next few months to see if it continues to improve.
As they were 12 months ago, Dodo and iPrimus – both subsidiaries of Vocus Communications – remain unchanged at number five. Their average download speed for watching Netflix content is 2.85Mbps during primetime hours, which is quite a steep drop-off from the next highest ranked provider.
At the back of the pack is Australia’s biggest telco, Telstra, with an average speed of 2.48mbps. Historically, Telstra has not performed as well as its main competitors when it comes to internet speeds, with the Netflix data showing its performance has dropped dramatically since May. Although it has improved significantly since Netflix Australia was launched, Telstra still lags behind the other major providers in this regard.
The graph below, from the official Netflix speed index website, shows how each of the six providers have performed over the past 12 months in comparison to one another.
While Optus currently leads the way, it’s worth keeping an eye on these rankings over time, particularly when you’re considering switching internet service providers.