Stream On

It might seem strange to discuss televisions in an Internet 911 article, but these days our televisions are more and more becoming extensions of our computers. And no, I am not talking about the old WebTV consoles from the mid-1990s. Instead, I’m talking about how many televisions seem to come with some streaming service built right into the device. If they don’t already have it built-in, people are adding streaming devices such as a Roku to watch content from various sources. Instead of streaming to our computer screens, we are streaming to the television in our living rooms.

If you have purchased a TV recently, you likely bought a 4K model. Otherwise, you may have seen one in a store or an online shopping website and wondered what the excitement was all about. Looking at the options available today, 4K might be one of the most popular out there.

It seems like buzz words float around the Internet, and not too long ago, everybody was talking about 1080p and HD. Now 4K, and even 8K, are what the marketing people are talking about. In case you are not sure, when talking about 1080p, 4K, and 8K, we are talking about screen resolutions. These resolutions apply to everything from televisions and computer monitors to phone and tablet screens.

Pixels

Ultra-high-definition (UHD) screen resolution is known as 4K. The table below shows how many pixels are jammed in a 4K screen compared to some of the options from just a couple of years ago. To put it simply, the more pixels in the screen, the sharper and cleaner the image.

  • 4K (UHD): 3,840 x 2,160 pixels
  • 1080p (Full HD): 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
  • 720p (HD): 1,280 x 720 pixels
  • 480p (SD and DVD quality): 640 x 480 pixels
  • In the future: 8K (UHD): 7,680 x 4,320 pixels

Download Speed

So how much bandwidth will you need to make this work? In the chart below, I show the download speeds needed to stream a single video from sources such as YouTube, Netflix, and Vudu.

  • Standard Definition (SD) video takes 3 Mbps.
  • 720p and 1080p High Definition (HD) takes 5 to 8 Mbps.
  • 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) takes 25 Mbps.
  • 8K Ultra High Definition (UHD) takes 50 Mbps.

The best way to avoid buffering is to make sure you aren’t trying to stream more than your Internet connection can handle. While other factors can come into play, buffering is often a symptom of too much traffic your home Wi-Fi. With a 50M/5M broadband-only package, you could stream a single movie in 4K while still playing games, checking your email, and other activities. Since ITC does not have any data caps, you can stream all day and all night all month long.

You will be happy to know that ITC is ready to meet your 4K streaming needs with our Blast Wi-Fi to monitor your Wi-Fi usage.

-Michael Martinell, The Broadband Guy