I have always wondered if AT&T’s DSL or Comcast’s cable modem is faster in our area. They both offer comparable speeds at comparable prices. But, these numbers come from the ISPs themselves.
Tests with sites like Speedtest.net can give me an answer to some extent. But, there is a more definitive answer now.
Netflix video streaming service is in a unique position to see which ISPs offer the most stable connection for long periods of times and not short bursts of speed boosts.
Ken Florance, director of content delivery at Netflix has the following to say
As we continue to stream more and more great movies and TV shows, we find ourselves in the unique position of having insight into the performance of hundreds of millions of long duration, high-definition video streams delivered over the Internet.
Currently, our top HD streams are about 4800 kilobits per second. Clients may switch through a number of bitrates as they ramp up to the highest stream, or shift down from the highest stream if they cannot sustain play at that rate due to throughput constraints. No client would sustain a 4800 stream from start to finish (there would at least be a few smaller streams averaged in for startup) but the higher the sustained average, the greater the throughput the client can achieve, and the greater the image quality over the duration of the play.
As we use a number of CDNs, and our clients can adapt to changing network conditions by selecting the network path that’s currently giving them the best throughput, Netflix streaming performance ends up being an interesting way to measure sustained throughput available from a given ISP over time, and therefore the quality of Netflix streaming that ISP is providing to our subscribers. Obviously, this can vary by network technology (e.g. DSL, Cable), region, etc., but it’s a great high-level view of Netflix performance across a large number of individual streaming sessions.
This is apparent from the following chart.
Netfiix also has a chart for Canada and says they will be updating this chart monthly.
Also, now I know that Comcast does offer faster Internet access than AT&T. It’s time to hunt down for some good Comcast offers.
Thank you Netflix.