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Last updated: 21 May 2021
Our internet uses are changing, and with so many 4K or UHD (Ultra High Definition) streaming platforms available, you want your connection to keep up. Read on to find out how to take advantage of 4K streaming, and which broadband package can keep up with your streaming habits.
What is 4K streaming?
If you are watching a film, television show or video online, you are streaming it. 4K streaming is currently the highest quality resolution available.
Some streaming platforms, including NOW TV or BBC iPlayer, are not yet available in 4K. They will only stream content at Standard Definition (SD) 480p, or low-end High Definition (HD) 720p.
You can get away without buffering with lower download speeds if you are watching lower quality content. However, for Full HD (1080p) you will need faster broadband.
4K or UHD is double the resolution of Full HD. This means you are getting the highest quality picture when you watch something in 4K. To accommodate this, you will need faster download speeds, but how fast does your broadband need to be?
What broadband speed do I need for 4K streaming?
Choosing the right broadband speed is important if you regularly stream 4K content. The speed you need will depend upon which services you are using. For example, Netflix, Amazon Prime and iTunes state you need a minimum speed of 25Mbps for 4K streaming. Other services, such as YouTube or BT Sport require more than 40Mbps.
It is important to remember that these speeds are the minimum required. Simply meeting the minimum speed will not guarantee you 4K streaming all the time! Even the scene you are watching can change the download speed you need.
When it comes to 4K streaming, the faster your broadband, the better.
Which broadband providers are best for 4K streaming?
Not all broadband deals are suitable for 4K streaming. You want to make sure you have high download speeds to avoid buffering. If possible, look out for providers offering double the stated minimum of your streaming service!
You will also need devices that are 4K-compatible, including a 4K TV and 4K-ready set-top box. Luckily, some broadband providers will give these to you when you sign up to their broadband and TV bundle deals.
Sky Broadband offer a number of fibre optic deals which will support the speeds needed for 4K streaming. However, to watch Sky Sports and Sky Cinema in the highest definition, you will also need a Sky Q set-top box, which will be provided if you sign up to Sky’s TV subscription.
Virgin Media are most widely-available provider of high-speed broadband in the UK, and with speeds of up to 300Mbps on certain fibre packages, you can be sure you’ll have enough speed for 4K streaming. Virgin Media’s TV bundles also offer a wide range of content, and the Virgin TV V6 box is 4K-ready, allowing you to stream Netflix, Amazon Prime and more in amazing quality.
To watch 4K content with BT, you will need to sign up to one of its broadband and TV bundles, as well as have a 4K TV and set-top box at the ready. Specifically, you will need a BT Infinity deal to get speeds high enough to support your 4K streaming. Stream 4K content directly from Netflix, BT Sport and more with the UK’s biggest broadband provider.
Many other providers offer fibre broadband deals which will support 4K streaming in terms of the speeds they offer. These include Plusnet, TalkTalk, EE, Vodafone and Hyperoptic. However, remember that you will need both a 4K-ready TV and set-top box, which you may have to source yourself.
Will ADSL broadband be enough for 4K streaming?
Some ADSL connections will be fast enough for 4K streaming, but they might not be as fast as advertised. When running a broadband comparison be aware the speeds advertised are the maximum possible. With an ADSL connection, the further you live from your telephone exchange the slower it will be.
Fibre optic is the best way to guarantee your broadband speed. Your connection shouldn’t weaken the same way it does with ADSL. Plus, fibre optic broadband packages start with higher maximum speeds. The smallest fibre packages offer around 38Mbps.
If you know you will be streaming in 4K, look out for fibre optic deals when you compare broadband. This is the best way to guarantee the highest possible speeds.