Taking the plunge into streaming | ACMA

Telco

12 May, 2015 10:12 AM

Telco

Taking the plunge into streaming

By Peter Watts

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Lots of new TV and movie streaming services have come online in Australia in 2015, including Netflix, Stan and Presto.

These services offer an exciting new range of entertainment options, but there are some important things to consider when signing up to a streaming service:

  • Is your internet service fast enough to support streaming? For example, Netflix recommends a broadband connection speed of 1.5 megabits per second to watch movies and TV shows. Higher quality services require faster speeds—to stream Netflix in high definition (HD), at least 5.0 megabits per second is best. Also consider the time of day you’ll be watching streamed services, as demand for broadband often peaks in the evenings. Does your provider indicate the speeds you’re likely to experience at different times of day?
  • Is the service streamed for free? For example, your provider might offer you six months of free Netflix, or free movies with its service, but any data used to watch these might come from your data allowance. So you may have to pay for excess data or have your data speeds ‘shaped’ (slowed down) when you reach your data limit. If you plan to watch a lot, you may need an ‘unlimited’ plan. If not, you need to think carefully about how much data you will use. You can expect to use about 1 gigabyte (GB) of data per hour for standard definition streaming or 3 GB per hour for HD streaming. Some plans may even offer you different allowances depending on what time of day you use the service. If you are not on an unlimited plan, look out for spend management alerts that will help you to monitor your use.
  • Be aware that data allowances on smartphones and tablets can be gobbled up very quickly when streaming on these devices. Use Wi-Fi services where you can.
  • When shopping around for a new broadband plan or provider, take a close look at the critical information summaries—these include details such as inclusions, exclusions, minimum terms and the cost of using one megabyte of data. You should also find a range of information on the provider’s website, such as the key attributes of its products and information, to help you to estimate what capacity you’ll need to meet your usage requirements.

If in doubt, talk with your service provider to clarify its products and understand whether it meets your needs.

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