Ask LH: Which NBN Provider Is The Best For Streaming Media?

Hi Lifehacker, The NBN is about to go active in my area. What is the best plan for someone who's into streaming a lot of content (like Netflix)? And which providers won't suffer from congestion? Thanks, New To NBN

Dear NTN,

There's no real one-size-fits-all answer to this particular question, because in the case of streaming media, while your connection speed is one factor, congestion issues at the server end can also affect your overall experience, and along a fibre NBN connection, they should be the same across all providers.

To make the most of a Netflix connection, your best bet would be marrying up the $14.99 Ultra HD pack with a suitably quick NBN connection of either 50/20Mbps or 100/40Mbps. While you might just eke out 4K video on a 25/5Mbps connection, overhead on the connection or your home connection could dip that speed slightly and affect overall performance.

There are wholly "unlimited" NBN connections, but the other factor here is that there are two ISPs in Australia, and most likely only two, that don't count Australian Netflix usage towards quota: iiNet and Optus. Of the two, given its otherwise streaming-friendly attitudes -- ABC iView, for example, is also quota-free -- I'd say that iiNet should be a very good bet. In the same light, however, it's probably worth noting that depending on your streaming needs and desires, Telstra doesn't count Presto usage against broadband caps.

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    Backhaul contention ratio is an issue. That's where ISPs can (and do) differentiate themselves. This has always been an issue with ADSL connections, TPG and Dodo often being brought up as example of "you get what you pay for" (though iiNet has now fallen into this category, with their abysmal performance of late after the Netflix launch), it's going to continue to be an issue in the NBN world as well, as it's entirely up to each ISP how much bandwidth they want to provision into each point of interconnect (POI).

      This! Anywhere that has FttP will see issues in the backhaul if they haven't accounted for the huge uptick in throughput thanks to streaming and there is no point in having a 1Gb connection if you can't actually use it all. It's like driving a Lamborghini down Parramatta road in Sydney - anytime a gap opens up you'll scream along - right up until the lights turn red and the traffic backs up.

        This is especially the issue in some housing estates where the fibre and backhaul are managed by an NBN-compliant wholesaler. Have a look at this ticket from iiNet: http://www.iinet.net.au/status/fault.php?id=3868731

        There is nothing the ISP can do about this, you are entirely at the mercy of the network operator.

          Ouch - at least iiNet place all of their service issues online. They also place all your open support ticket info online too. So you know when the person you've been dealing with is being a douche.

    Why the fuck do people keep using the term NBN, as if it's some thing that actually exists.

      Because lots of people have it.

        4%.

          Have a bit of patience. We will all have it... by 2034.

            The sad thing is you are right. And by then it will be drastically outdated, and even more diluted. The definition will probably be expanded to included tin cans linked by string.

              Sucks for me. I am stuck with 3Mb/s (capable, never reached) ADSL2+. My house was subdevided from another, so I can't even get Cable which I would gladly pay top dollar for the High-Speed variant. Step dad has HSC and he reaches 25Mb/s downloading.

    Same across all providers? They all have exactly the same backhaul and contention ratio?

    There's a bit more to it than "It's a fibre tail, it's identical."

    I'm on a 25 Mbps plan with iinet on fttp NBN. Netflix is running beautifully in HD. Can't comment on 4K, my TV is too old for that. We have run 2 separate netflix HD streams without any hickups and with minimal buffering. 50 or 100 Mbps would be overkill unless you really want 4K.

      Completely missing the point. Just because you can stead HD on a 25 Mbps does not mean 50 or 100mbps is only for 4k. 4k is only ONE example of what it is usable for. Many many users would and can use speeds up to that, or even more.

      There is a reason most countries have speeds that far exceed Australia's. People need to get educated. Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea all have gigabit speeds or more. Most of Europe has internet 4 times as fast as our max purely available to normal customers. IE their cable goes to 300 Mbps where ours goes max 100 Mbps.

      The whole point is exactly what a lot of people have been saying though. If it takes THAT long to roll out then it should be at LEAST gigabit speeds, because by the time it is rolled out it will AGAIN be redundant.

    12 months ago I was singing the praises of IINET, but the performance on my 100/40 NBN connection has been nothing short of abysmal in the last 3 months.

    I never thought I would consider going to Bigpond, but that's where I am headed as IINET seem to care about mergers then customers.

      Yeah unfortunately I had to go the same route. Although away from Exetel since they resell Optus and Optus are congested as all hell. Telstra are more expensive for a reason, less user to connection / bandwidth (whatever you want to call it really) ratio.

      Optus admitted to being congested as did Exetel so let me exist without penalty (also credited me back 50% of the months I was with them since it was unusable at peak periods), seriously websites would time out.

      When will the government stop lining it's own pockets, stop selling out Australia for it's own gain to foreign countries and start investing in this countries own future? My guess is never.

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