The best internet providers for Netflix

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There’s no denying the popularity of Netflix, with millions of Australians signing up since the streaming service was officially launched Down Under in March 2015. We obviously love to watch content on demand, with shows like Stranger Things, You, and Brooklyn Nine Nine dominating our TV 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. While the NBN is meant to be providing better speeds – and research suggests speeds are improving – our demand for high speeds are increasing with our insatiable appetite for streaming. So which broadband providers offer the best streaming performance, according to Netflix?

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Best Internet Providers for Netflix

Netflix has ranked the top internet providers for streaming in Australia, with figures correct as at October 2019. Yet again, Telstra’s NBN speeds have taken out the top spot.

The Netflix ISP speed index lists the average prime time bit-rate for content streamed to Netflix subscribers each month. To compile the rankings, Netflix 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, with a few disclosures:

  • Netflix download speeds are likely to be slower during prime time hours (i.e. evenings from 7pm – 11pm). So the speeds cited above may actually be higher at certain points, like early morning and mid-afternoon, as fewer people are likely to be streaming.
  • The absolute minimum internet speed required watching Netflix is 0.5Mbps, but this will give a poor image quality. The higher your speed, the more consistently high-quality your stream will be.

On the whole, speeds have improved dramatically in less than a year. All major providers in Australia have improved speeds in the last three months, with Telstra, Aussie Broadband, Optus, iiNet, TPG, Exetel and MyRepublic all now averaging over 4Mbps.

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) plans on Canstar Blue’s database from the above providers, listed in order of monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This table may contain links to referral partners.

How does Netflix speed indexing work?

Netflix periodically publishes its own speed index to measure and rank the performance of each of the biggest Australian internet service provider in terms of how well they stream its content. Netflix notes that this is a measure of ‘prime time’ Netflix streaming performance of the top six ISPs in Australia. This is not a measure of overall performance of a network, rather just how fast each service can download Netflix.

Some things to be aware of:

  • Your ISP may prioritise traffic differently.
  • Your particular exchange may have different contention ratios (the number of users sharing the same bandwidth) to those in other neighbourhoods.
  • Peak times are generally between 7pm and 11pm. Note that streaming outside of these hours may yield different results.

If you’re in the market for a broadband plan that will deliver the best Netflix-watching experience, we’ve taken a look at the top nine telcos below.

Netflix Streaming with Telstra

Telstra now sits at number one in regards to speed, and this is probably no surprise. The telco now features the NBN 50 speed tier on many of its plans as standard, and was among the first to be more realistic about the speeds customers can expect in peak times. In mid-2016, it was only rating in the mid-twos for Mbps, meaning that Telstra has probably put a lot of time and effort into improving its infrastructure.

One of Telstra’s main selling points is that it has huge contracts with various entertainment companies to provide users with entertainment bundles. You can bundle your service with Foxtel, Foxtel Now or Kayo, or include Telstra TV in your plan. Telstra has also recently launched unlimited data internet plans which takes some of the concern out of consistent Netflix streaming. However, for this you’ll be paying $90 each month. If you want a cheaper deal, the next step down is a relatively low 200GB for $75 a month.

Netflix Streaming with iiNet

Way back  in June 2015, iiNet was the number one ranked ISP on this list, but this does not mean iiNet has slipped – rather, the others have just caught up. Here, iiNet’s cheapest unlimited plan is $69.99 a month, with voice packs a from an additional $10. This price on the NBN includes NBN 25 speeds, with a jump to NBN 50 currently available for $74.99 per month on a six-month plan.

Netflix Streaming with TPG

TPG tends to be pretty steady in this middle position, but still generally performs quite well. The telco remains one of the more popular ISPs in Australia, despite it still being seen as an underdog compared to Telstra and Optus. TPG offers unlimited internet from $59.99 per month (on NBN 12), with included unlimited calls available for an extra $10 per month.

Netflix Streaming with Aussie Broadband

Aussie Broadband frequently tops speed tests for its fast, industry-leading NBN. Its premium NBN 100 plan lists a typical evening speed of 90Mbps; currently, this is faster than typical evening speeds cited by Telstra (80Mbps), so it’s no surprise that the telco consistently ranks high in Netflix’s speed listing. Unlimited data from Aussie Broadband starts at $69 per month (NBN 25), with premium speeds available for $99 monthly.

Netflix Streaming with MyRepublic

MyRepublic is the newest service provider to be included on Netflix’s speed index, being added to the rankings in March 2019. However, it’s been an impressive debut, with the telco’s NBN plans slotting in seventh place (ahead of Dodo and iPrimus) and listing an average Netflix speed of 4Mbps. With Standard Plus plans starting from as low as $79.00 per month, MyRepublic’s promo offers make it one of the most competitive high-speed NBN providers on the market.

Netflix Streaming with Exetel

Exetel continues to improve, now offering an average speed of over 4Mbps during prime-time hours. Exetel not only provides cheap mobile phone plans and some of the cheapest NBN plans out there, it also provides cheap unlimited DSL data too. NBN plans start at $69.00 for Standard Plus Evening Speed.

Netflix Streaming with Dodo/iPrimus

Dodo and iPrimus – as part of the Vocus Communications group – have slipped to seventh place overall, with non-NBN connections from Telstra and Optus both offering slightly faster average speeds. On the plus side though, both Dodo and Primus both tend to offer some of the cheaper and simpler unlimited plans out there, with Dodo offering unlimited data from $70 per month. If cost is more of a concern than flat-out speed for Netflix, Dodo and Primus may be more suited to you.

Netflix Streaming with Optus

After a long reign at the top, Optus has slipped down to third place. However, don’t be alarmed – it’s only a little off the mark of Aussie Broadband Telstra, and could very well take top spot again next time.  Optus’ unlimited plans start at $70 per month for NBN 50 speeds, with the $90 plan including Fetch TV set top box, a premium channel pack, and Optus Sport.

How does Australian internet compare globally?

To put it frankly, Australian internet in terms of Netflix speeds has, until recently, been lacklustre. Even compared to internet providers in New Zealand –  thanks to the country’s fibre infrastructure that spans most of the nation – Australia appeared to be falling behind. However, in spite of recent challenges – such as the requirement for NBN providers to pay CVC costs – Australia’s average Netflix speeds are steadily increasing.

To see how Australia ranks worldwide, we’ve listed the top August speeds for other countries below. Keep in mind that this list isn’t a measure of general broadband speed, just a measurement of the prime time Netflix performance of included ISPs.

  • Romania: 4.62Mbps
  • USA: 4.52Mbps
  • UK: 4.49Mbps
  • Netherlands: 4.41Mbps
  • Germany:  4.35Mbps
  • New Zealand: 4.34Mbps
  • Japan: 4.29Mbps
  • Singapore: 4.27Mbps
  • Canada: 4.21Mbps
  • France: 4.16Mbps

Although Asian and European countries traditionally do quite well in speed rankings, Australia is beginning to catch up. Our major providers are averaging peak time Netflix speeds of 4Mbps and up, on par with other leading Western countries (and frequently faster than Romania’s monthly average). While Australia on a global scale has a bit of work to do, speeds are definitely improving.

Is it worth upgrading my internet for Netflix?

Spending money to save money is almost never an instant process. Say you’ve already found a great, cheap plan with adequate data that suits your budget: it likely makes little sense to upgrade to a more expensive plan just for the sake of getting unmetered Netflix. However, if you’re reaching the end of the month pulling your hair out trying to conserve gigabytes, or tired of frequent buffering and low-quality streams, you might find it worth your money to upgrade to a faster unlimited data plan.

The best option is to find a plan that is similar in price to your current one. The lure of Telstra with both Telstra TV and the best Netflix speeds is undeniable, but there’s also plenty of providers that offer more affordable plans, depending on your choice of NBN speed tier. Generally, most Netflix watchers will get a great experience from Standard Evening Speed (NBN 25) plans, but if you’re in a multi-user household, you may benefit from a bump to Standard Plus (NBN 50); you can read more about NBN evening speeds here.

Overall, broadband plans and prices in Australia are improving – so if Netflix is your main entertainment option, there’s plenty of great NBN and ADSL plans and deals out there to keep your streaming stress-free.

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