12 Comments

Summary:

Want the best possible Netflix experience? Then get ready to move to Kansas City: Netflix just ranked Google Fiber the best-performing ISP for its customers. AT&T Uverse on the other hand underperformed. The company also ranked the best mobile providers to watch Netflix on the go.

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It’s official: Google Fiber is Netflix’s favorite ISP. The video service published the first in what it promises will be monthly ISP rankings, revealing the average speed of Netflix speeds for each service provider. Google Fiber unsurprisingly captured the first spot, with viewers achieving an average speed of 2.55 Mbps.

Netflix's ISP ranking for November 2012 - click to enlarge.

Netflix’s ISP ranking for November 2012.

Verizon FIOS is on second place with 2.19 Mbps, and ranked third is Comcast with 2.17 Mbps. Netflix VP of Content Delivery Ken Florance specifically called out AT&T’s Uverse service in a blog post, pointing out that it “shows quite poorly” compared to FIOS. Uverse was ranked 11th by Netflix, with a mere 1.94 Mbps.

At the bottom of the list are mobile providers, with Verizon mobile once again leading the pack (0.76 Mbps), followed by T-Mobile (0.64). The loser is once again AT&T, whose mobile service only averaged 0.48 Mbps.

It’s no surprise that Google Fiber would be faster than the competition – but some of you might wonder: Why did folks with a 1 Gigabit connection only clock 2.55 Mbps on average? The answer has a lot to do with the different bitrates Netflix is using for its content. The service’s highest-quality 1080p video streams come in at 4800 kbps.

Non-HD content, of which there still is quite a bit on Netflix as well, on the other hand tops out at 2200 kbps. The typical user watches a mix of HD and SD content, which explains the lower average on Google Fiber.

Florance said that going forward, the company wants to publish this kind of ISP ranking every month.

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  1. The article above quotes Mbps, but that should probably be MBPS.

    Anyway, the 2.55 MBPS threshold is just an average of averages across SD/HD content and doesn’t tell the whole story. I’d be interested in the average speed for only HD content delivered. I bet the top providers stand above the rest.

    The benefit with Google Fiber, and to a less extent Version FIOS, the average download will always be close to the max possible for a given content stream even in a household of children/adults each consuming online content at the same time. DSL and cable providers that don’t invest in infrastructure will fall farther behind the pack in metrics like this.

    1. No, we are talking Mbps here. 2.55 MBPS would equal an average bitrate of about 20890 kbps, which is way beyond what anyone in the video space is doing, and kind of like streaming an uncompressed MPEG-2 signal over the Internet.

      2.55 Mbps on the other hand is just about 2600kbps, which is squarely in between SD and 720p HD for Netflix content.

      Of course, this is back-of-the-envelope math, not accounting for any overhead – but the bigger point is that Google Fiber users are nowhere near to maxing out their Gigabit connection when watching Netflix – they’re just not running into any congestion issues, which gives them the best performance possible.

  2. Again…. Kansas City is in kansas AND Missouri. And Google Fiber will be on both sides of the state line. Thank goodness for me since I refuse to move to kansas.

  3. You should say Kansas City, not just Kansas. In all actuality the majority of the city is on the Missouri side, and Fiber is available on both sides.

    1. Thanks, changed.

  4. “Again…. Kansas City is in kansas AND Missouri”

    Not correct. There are separate Kansas Cities in each state, but each are their own cities with their own governments. What you’re saying is equivalent to saying the same Rome is in both New York and Italy. A minor point, but if you’re going to be snotty about pointing out someone else’s “error,” you should make sure you’re not wrong yourself.

    1. C’mon Dave. Isn’t this a little petty? Isn’t it accurate to say Kansas City is in Kansas AND Missouri? Regardless of the fact that they are separate, a level of detail I am sure there was no need to get into, Kansas City is in Kansas and Kansas City is in Missouri. You and I both know that when people talk about Kansas City, they are generally talking about the Kansas City Metropolitan area which includes the cities in both states. I don’t think he meant to be snotty, that was how you took it. If I didn’t know better, I might think your post was a bit snide but I am sure you were just having a moment. Maybe you live in Kansas and took offense at his derogatory remark towards Kansas. I offer no judgement except that I found taking off from the main airport there was a particularly bumpy ride. I think you were both trying to be helpful and probably countered that a bit with the extraneous comments.

  5. Surprised that Mediacom is so high on the list. Nice for me since there one of the only providers in my area, besides Frontier, which you absolutely don’t want.

  6. Oops…didn’t see those grammar mistakes. :)

  7. There is a “sample size” problem here, though. Google Fiber is an experiment, and only exists in one city, and even only in certain parts of that one city.

    That’s very different than a nationally or even regionally deployed network. Not that it won’t still be faster, but it is still a very small sample size compared to the others.

  8. This is a biased report against AT&T because it is completely dependent on the peering capacity of the CDN Netflix uses to deliver its streams. If the CDN they use does not have native peering directly with AT&T, naturally AT&T will show poorly.

  9. Tanner (loves U-verse) Friday, December 14, 2012

    Ryan Beal makes a really good point. What happens when the Google Fiber structure is scaled nation-wide (like most of the competition in this list are)? To top it off this isn’t a very equal test, as Deep T points out this is completely reliant on the capabilities of Netflix, not only the ISPs.

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