Get the Right Internet Speed for Your Next Netflix Binge
Make movie night a breeze with 25Mbps or faster
Netflix is an awesome streaming service—so long as you have internet fast enough to use it.
According to Netflix, you can get away with internet speeds as low as 3Mbps to use the streaming app on your phone or TV. But that’s a lowball estimate. In reality, you need faster Wi-Fi if you plan to stream Netflix in the normal way most people do—while doing 10 other internet things simultaneously on your computer, phone, or tablet. (And don’t forget your kids or roommates streaming movies in the next room.)
A minimum of 25Mbps is a good internet speed for Netflix streaming. That ensures you can get all the way through an hour-plus of content in HD 720p resolution without the buffer gremlins coming for you. You’re even better off with 100Mbps if you have a family that likes to stream or if you have multiple devices in your home connected to the Wi-Fi. To really enjoy video streaming in 4K resolution, though, consider upgrading to a 200Mbps plan or faster.
Does your Wi-Fi have what it takes?
Take our speed test to see if your internet is fast enough to support your Netflix needs.
Netflix speed basics
Before we jump into the nitty-gritty, here’s a quick breakdown of three things you need to know about Netflix and internet speeds.
Three golden rules for Netflix internet:
- The more users and devices you have, the more internet speed you need.
- For 4K streaming, reduce buffering with a fiber-optic or gigabit cable plan.
- For slow connections and hotspots, keep it simple with the lower-resolution video of Netflix Basic.
Here are your minimum speed needs for Netflix
Netflix claims on its website that you can stream with speeds as low as 3Mbps. But that’s only if Netflix is the only app you’re using while you’re online—not an accurate reflection of how most netizens spend their time on the web these days.
The experts at HighSpeedInternet.com put together some realistic Netflix speed recommendations. You can easily get these speeds on pretty much any fiber, cable, 5G or even DSL internet plan.
|Netflix Plan||Minimum required speed*||Minimum recommended speed for optimal streaming||Sign up online|
|Standard with ads||3Mbps||25Mbps||Sign Up|
Recommendations from Netflix’s speed requirements page.
Our experts say: The same principles apply to all video streaming apps
Even if you have individual Wi-Fi speed needs for other platforms like Paramount+, Max, Apple TV, or YouTube TV, the same rules apply. You want ample speeds to support a variety of users and tasks, and you want to be thrifty with pricing and video resolution on slower Wi-Fi.
What do you need to stream Ultra HD 4K movies on Netflix?
Many households need speeds of 200Mbps or faster to facilitate watching movies in Ultra HD 4K resolution on Netflix.
4K resolution gives you images in awe-inspiring detail, enhancing your experience for the sweeping cinematic grit of All Quiet on the Western Front or the lush splendor of a nature docuseries like Our Great National Parks. Nothing beats it, especially when you have a big screen.
The problem? 4K uses up a lot of broadband speed. Like, A LOT. Streaming in 4K also puts a massive dent in your monthly data allotment.
Here’s a breakdown of the scary stats:
- 4K needs 15Mbps minimum speeds for a single user to stream Netflix smoothly—3X faster than what you need to stream video in Full HD 1080p resolution.
- Watching a two-hour film in 4K consumes a whopping 16GB per hour—4X the amount of data that you use streaming video in HD.
Get fiber internet or a gigabit cable plan for the best 4K performance
You basically need supercharged internet to keep a 4K stream flowing without it getting bogged down by the spinning wheel of death. But you can bulk up your broadband speed with a fiber internet plan. Fiber gives you the fastest and most reliable type of internet connection, and even baseline plans get you super-smooth speeds.
Best internet plans for 4K video streaming
|AT&T Internet 300||$55.00/mo.*||300Mbps|
|Verizon Fios Internet 500/500||$69.99/mo.†||500Mbps|
|Xfinity Gigabit||$60.00–$70.00/mo.§||1,000Mbps||View Plan|
What if you have slow internet? Never fear—you can still watch Netflix
To really get the most out of Netflix these days, it seems like you need a fancy internet package. Netflix’s Premium plan is designed for a household with multiple users and a demanding taste for 4K resolution—but, wow, does that plan cost a pretty penny, and you need extra-fast internet to support it.
Does that mean the party is over for Netflix when you’re on a budget? No, of course not. Just pick a Netflix plan that doesn’t bust your wallet in half—we recommend Netflix Basic for manageable 720p resolution, which works great over slower connections while still giving you a quality video. And sign up for a budget internet plan to go with it from our sweet recommendations below.
If you want, you can lower your resolution even more. That’s something you may need to do if you’re streaming video over a hotspot. As convenient as mobile hotpots are, they come with strict internet data limits that can put a serious damper on your Netflix usage if you’re not careful. Watch a few too many movies in HD or 4K and you can use up $90 worth of data in a day.
Best internet plans for budget Netflix users
|Astound Broadband 300Mbps Internet||$20.00–$35.00/mo.*||300Mbps|
|Xfinity Connect More||$25.00/mo.†||200Mbps||View Plans|
|T-Mobile 5G Home Internet||$50.00/mo.‡ ($30.00/mo. w/ Go5G Plus or Magenta MAX)||72–245Mbps||View Plans|
|Verizon 5G Home Internet||$50.00/mo.§ ($25.00/mo. w/ Verizon Unlimited Plus)||Up to 300Mbps|
Can you stream Netflix with satellite internet?
Yes, you can definitely stream Netflix with satellite internet. But satellite has very slow speeds and (often) extremely limited data caps, so you’ll want to reduce your video resolution to the lowest-possible setting to get the most out of your Netflix experience. The image quality isn’t as nice, but low resolution keeps you from burning through a month’s worth of data in a matter of hours.
Pro tip—Get more streaming plan recommendations
Take a look at our guide to the best internet for streaming for a breakdown of top Wi-Fi plans to meet your Netflixing needs.
Here’s how to adjust the video resolution on your Netflix app
If your Netflix streaming falls prey a bit too often to buffering and slow load times, then you may need to adjust the video settings on your app to reduce the need for long load times and buffering. Lowering video resolution also helps you reduce data usage, which is crucial if you’re worried about your data cap.
Unless instructed otherwise, Netflix automatically chooses a video resolution based on your plan and connection speed. To reduce data usage and buffering, set the resolution to Medium or Low. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Sign in from your browser.
Step 2: Click your profile on the Who’s Watching? screen.
Step 3: Click Account in the drop-down menu that appears when you move your cursor over the Profile section in the top right-hand part of the screen.
Step 4: Select the profile you want to edit in Profile & Parental Controls.
Step 5: Go to Playback settings and click Change.
Step 6: Choose between Auto, Low, Medium, or High in the section titled Data usage per screen.
Step 1: Sign in from your browser app.
Step 2: Tap Menu on the upper left.
Step 3: Tap Account.
Step 4: Tap the profile you want to edit in Profile & Parental Controls.
Step 5: Tap Change in Playback settings.
Step 6: Choose between Auto, Low, Medium, or High in the section titled Data usage per screen, then tap Save.
Choose the best Netflix plan in an age of post-password sharing
As Netflix cracks down on password sharing—forcing customers to pay an extra $7.99 a month for any users outside a subscriber’s household—it’s important to decide which plan is best for you.
The Standard and Premium plans are the best for most people, because they offer higher resolution and give you more flexibility in the number of screens you can stream on simultaneously.
But if you have slow internet—through a DSL or satellite connection, for example—you should consider going a cheaper route with Basic or the Standard ad with plans.
Netflix plan options
Best internet plans for 4K Netflix streaming (return to table)
Data effective 6/7/23. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*Price after $5/mo Autopay & Paperless bill discount (w/in 2 bills). Plus taxes & fees. Monthly State Cost Recovery Charge in TX, OH, NV applies. One time install chrg may apply. Ltd. avail/areas.
†Price per month with Auto Pay & without select 5G mobile plans. Fios plan prices include taxes & fees
‡Plus taxes and fees. Upload/download speed and device streaming claims are based on maximum wired speeds. Actual Internet speeds are not guaranteed and may vary based on factors such as hardware and software limitations, latency, packet loss, etc.
§For 24 months. No term contract. Includes $10/mo automatic payments and paperless billing discount. Taxes and equipment not included.
Best internet plans for budget Netflix users (return to table)
Data effective 6/7/23. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*24 Month Internet Pricing. No contract required. Equipment priced separately. Includes $5 discount for 12 months w/ ebill & autopay. Experienced speeds may vary. New residential customers only.
†For 24 months. No term contract. Taxes not included. Includes $10/mo automatic payments and paperless billing discount.
‡w/ Auto Pay. Regulatory fees included in monthly price for qualified accounts. See full terms.
§w/ Auto Pay. Available in select areas.
Author - Peter Holslin
Peter Holslin has more than a decade of experience working as a writer and freelance journalist. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008 and went on to contribute to publications like Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on covering 5G, nerding out about frequency bands and virtual RAN, and producing reviews on emerging services like 5G home internet. He also writes about internet providers and packages, hotspots, VPNs, and Wi-Fi troubleshooting.