What is the best type of internet when it comes to streaming?

Whether you’re trying online streaming for the very first time or frustrated with the constant buffering from your pre-existing streaming subscription, you’ll know that not all internet providers are equal. The kind of internet you choose can make a huge difference when it comes to your streaming experience. It’s the difference between seamlessly watching 4K content and waiting 10 minutes for a single video to load. 

Want the lowdown on the types of internet you can choose from and the speeds you’ll need to watch an entire Netflix series in one day? Below is everything you need to know. 

Check out our list of Best Internet Providers for Streaming.

Types of internet services

Although several types of internet services exist, some are only available in select locations. Fiber optic internet, for example, is a newer technology that isn’t as widespread as the likes of cable. Prices can vary too (*note that all prices mentioned are current as of time of writing). Some internet providers charge around $20/mo. while others can cost more than $100/mo. (Of course, the more expensive fees tend to come hand-in-hand with faster, more reliable internet.)

Here are the various internet options available to you, along with the top providers for each type and their starting prices. Head here to see which internet providers are available in your area.


Digital subscriber line (DSL) internet services connect you to the online world through your existing phone line. Although DSL is cheap and available pretty much everywhere, it can’t compete with the speeds of cable or fiber optic. Some places can reach the 25 megabytes per second (Mbps) download speed needed for perfect streaming, but others may only receive a meager 5 Mbps. 

  • AT&T (from $49.99/mo.)
  • CenturyLink (from $49.99/mo.)
  • Frontier (from $27.99/mo.)
  • Verizon (from $40/mo.)

Fiber optic

Fiber optic — which transfers data through light signals in thin glass wires — is the latest internet technology, so it’s no surprise to hear it’s the fastest. Offering consistent and reliable speeds — even during peak hours — it’s ideal for households that stream from multiple devices simultaneously. Unfortunately, this type of internet service isn’t as common as others, meaning it may be difficult to find in your local area.

  • AT&T (from $49.99/mo.)
  • CenturyLink (from $65/mo.)
  • Frontier FiOS (from $29.99/mo.)
  • Verizon Fios (from $39.99/mo.)


Cable is a solid contender for all your streaming needs. And as it uses the same coaxial cables as cable TV, it’s more widely available than fiber optic internet. In fact, around 90% of the country can access cable. However, it’s not quite as fast as fiber optic and can be slow if multiple people or households are attempting to stream online. 

  • Cox (from $29.99/mo.)
  • Optimum (from $39.99/mo.)
  • Spectrum (from $49.99/mo.)
  • Xfinity (from $29.99/mo.)


Satellite internet works in a similar way to satellite TV. A signal from a satellite in space delivers data to Earth and is picked up by a dish attached to your home. This type of internet is ideal for those in rural areas who can’t access cable, but still want to stream content regularly. But it can be costly and can be impacted by adverse weather, making it the last resort for some. 

  • HughesNet (from $59.99/mo.)
  • Viasat (from $30/mo.)

Recommended internet speed for streaming video

If you want to stream movies, series, or regular YouTube videos, you’ll need to consider your internet speed. The more Mbps your internet can download, the smoother your streaming will be. 

Streaming with multiple devices

Generally, streaming services recommend having an internet speed of five to seven Mbps. But this doesn’t take into account the number of devices that could be using your internet at any one time. Phones, computers, and TVs all use up bandwidth. And if you have more than one of each, you could face streaming problems like buffering, lagging, or pixelated images. 

The best internet TV service for streaming is one with a speed of no less than 25 Mbps. But if you have a big household with lots of devices, or if someone’s heavily into things like gaming, you may want to increase that minimum to 100 Mbps. 

Streaming in higher quality

Those limits are only applicable to standard definition (SD) or high definition (HD) devices. If you have a higher quality 4K TV or streaming device, you’ll likely need a much quicker internet speed. After taking all your other devices into account, ensure you have at least 25 Mbps left over for your 4K streaming needs. This could mean an internet speed of as high as 1,000 Mbps. 

Streaming with difference services

To make things that little bit more confusing, streaming services recommend varying internet speeds. On-demand platforms like Netflix and Hulu tend to be able to deal with slower speeds, but live TV streaming from the likes of fuboTVand Sling TV will need more bandwidth.

Again, these speeds vary based on the quality of your streaming. If you want to stream Netflix in SD, for example, you’ll need a relatively low internet speed. But this will increase for HD and 4K streaming. And again, you’ll have to consider how many devices will be using the streaming service at the same time. Here’s an example to help: fuboTV recommends an internet speed of seven Mbps for standard HD streaming. But if three devices were streaming fuboTV simultaneously, your internet speed would need to be at least 21 Mbps.

Here’s more information on the minimum internet speeds recommended by popular streaming services:

Amazon Prime internet speed

QualityResolutionRecommended speed
SD480p0.9 Mbps
HD1080p3.5 Mbps
4K2160p25 Mbps

Disney+ internet speed

QualityResolutionRecommended speed
HD1080p5 Mbps
4K2160p25 Mbps

fuboTV internet speed

QualityResolutionRecommended speed
SD480p3 Mbps
Standard HD720p7 Mbps
Full HD1080p10 Mbps
4K2160p25 Mbps

Hulu internet speed

ServiceQualityResolutionRecommended speed
On-demand librarySD to HD480p to 1080p3 Mbps
On-demand library4K2160p16 Mbps
Live TVSD to HD480p to 1080p8 Mbps
Live TV4K2160p16 Mbps

Netflix internet speed

QualityResolutionRecommended speed
SD480p3 Mbps
HD720p to 1080p5 Mbps
4K2160p25 Mbps

Sling TV internet speed

Streaming useRecommended speed
Single stream on TV, PC, or Mac5 Mbps
Continuous internet use on multiple devices25 Mbps

Best internet for streaming

When it comes to streaming live TV and on-demand content, fiber optic internet is the number one choice. It’s the speediest option around and, more importantly, reliably delivers the speed that you paid for. (Other types may never reach their advertised speeds due to factors like neighbor usage.) 

If fiber optic internet isn’t available in your area, cable is the next best thing followed by DSL internet services. Both should give you decent download speeds and allow you to stream with ease. But you may notice issues when trying to stream to multiple devices at the same time, or when streaming to a higher quality device like a 4K TV. 

Top pick for fiber optic internet: AT&T

Our top provider pick is AT&T. One of the biggest providers in the US, it offers fiber optic and DSL internet along with a unique option that combines a very high bitrate DSL with fixed wireless internet. We recommend first looking at the fiber optic option. AT&T Fiber is available to more than 13 million homes. It also promises consistent speeds and 99% reliability — even when used during peak times. That means you can stream live TV without buffering or lagging, and can quickly download titles for offline viewing.

You’ll need to sign up for a 12-month contract, but, for the first year, all speeds cost just $49.99/mo. After the first year, prices will increase to $59.99/mo. for the 100 Mbps plan and $69.99/mo. for the 1,000 Mbps option. You’ll also have to pay an additional $10/mo. for equipment. AT&T Fiber 100 comes with a monthly data allowance of 1 TB. But the Fiber 1000 plan has no data cap, so you can stream without a single worry. (Unlimited data is available for Fiber 100 customers for an extra fee.)

AT&T DSL, meanwhile, is only available in certain areas, and only offers plans up to 6 Mbps. Enquire with the company for prices. Alternatively, take a look at AT&T Internet. It can reliably deliver up to 100 Mbps, and prices start from $49.99/mo.

Whichever type you choose, remember that the best internet TV provider is the one with an internet speed that suits your streaming needs. 

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