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With 167 million subscribers worldwide and 60 million in the U.S. alone, there’s no doubt that Netflix is wildly popular. As the dominant player in the streaming world and the biggest investor in original content, it makes sense that Netflix has a vested interest in viewers being able to enjoy their content on the best possible connection.
This is why the Netflix ISP Speed Index ranks all providers in the United States based on the average prime-time bitrate each month. It also looks at how the U.S. as a whole compares to the rest of the world where Netflix is available.
Ready to see how your ISP compares?
What is the Netflix ISP Speed Index?
The Netflix ISP Speed Index is a ranking of which internet service providers offer the best prime-time Netflix streaming experience. They calculate the “average bitrate of Netflix content in megabits per second (Mbps) streamed by Netflix members per ISP” to come up with their rankings every month.
The speed indicated as part of their rankings, though, is not a measure of the “maximum throughput or the maximum capacity” of the service provider, but instead meant to reflect prime-time streaming.
How does your ISP compare?
For December 2019, Netflix ranked Verizon FiOS internet as the top provider for streaming content during primetime. Verizon FiOS has actually held onto the top honor for nearly a year now since Feb. 2019. It was ranked No. 1 in Dec. 2018 before briefly being overtaken by Comcast in January 2019, but took the top spot the next month and has held on ever since.
Comcast, on the other hand, has gone from No. 1 in Dec. 2018 to No. 5 as of Dec. 2019. Prior to being overtaken by Verizon FiOS, Comcast enjoyed being the top ISP since January 2018. Rounding out the top five is Cox at No. 2, Optimum at No. 3 and Spectrum at No. 4.
All providers in the top 10 for Dec. 2019, except for one saw a marginal increase in Mbps month-over-month. Verizon FiOS had the biggest increase of nine-hundredths (0.09) of a percentage going from 4.65 Mbps in Nov. 2019 to 4.74 Mbps in Dec. 2019. Cox had the next biggest increase of eight-hundredths (0.08) of a percentage from 4.59 Mbps in Nov. 2019 to 4.74 Mbps in Dec. 2019.
Verizon DSL service was the only ISP to see a drop in Mbps from month-to-month decreasing from 4.08 Mbps in Nov. 2019 to 4.05 Mbps in Dec. 2019.
Globally, Switzerland had the best prime-time streaming experience with 4.8 Mbps for Dec. 2019. Rounding out the top five was Romania at No. 2 with 4.76 Mbps, Iceland at No. 3 with 4.66 Mbps, Hungary at No. 4 with 4.65 Mbps and the Netherlands at No. 5 with 4.64 Mbps.
The United States came in at No. 8 with an average prime-time streaming bitrate of 4.46 Mbps for Dec. 2019. This is a bit of a drop from a year previous when the U.S. was third at 4.29 Mbps.
Hungary had the biggest climb on the chart going from 3.43 Mbps in Jan. 2019 to the No. 4 position by the end of the year.
So, what does this all mean?
For most people, it’s not going to mean much. All of the providers in the United States are pretty closely-ranked. There’s only a difference of 1.27 Mbps between the No. 1 ISP (Verizon FiOS) and the No. 13 ISP (AT&T DSL).
Even AT&T DSL’s 3.47 Mbps during primetime is more than enough for casual viewers to have no problems streaming in standard definition. In fact, Netflix recommends 3 Mbps for SD streaming. And again, this isn’t the maximum speed you’re getting from your provider, but simply a measure of bitrate during prime-time viewing of Netflix content.