Streaming speeds slowing down, says Netflix
MANY Irish internet customers now have slower broadband streaming speeds than they did a year ago, according to research by on-demand streaming service Netflix.
The US company revealed the findings after gathering performance data over the past eight months.
It found just one out of six Irish broadband providers achieved the company's recommended 2Mbps streaming speed measurement mark this year compared to two out of six last year.
Streaming speeds are becoming more important for broadband users as more people seek to avail of television programming and movie services online.
A 2Mbps speed was normal in other developed European countries surveyed.
The index showed that customers of UPC, the second-largest provider in the country with more than 200,000 customers, were streaming at an average of speed of 2.22Mbps in November 2012, but by last month that had fallen to 1.72Mbps.
Imagine's average was 1.68Mbps in November 2012, but this had fallen to 1.55Mbps in April before rising again to 1.69Mbps in June.
The index shows a picture in which the quality of services is constantly fluctuating, sometimes by substantial margins.
Three providers saw steady but unspectacular increases since the start of this year after a Christmas slowdown – Eircom (1.65Mbps in January to 1.81Mbps in June), Vodafone (1.57Mbps to 1.69Mbps) and Digiweb (1.7Mbps to 1.87Mbps).
The best performer overall for streaming was Magnet, which moved from 2Mbps to 2.37Mbps, making it the only provider to surpass the Netflix 2Mbps mark.
Netflix last week celebrated 14 Emmy Award nominations for drama series it produces, including 'House of Cards', 'Arrested Development' and 'Hemlock Grove'.
The company stressed that its survey was independent and without agenda. However, UPC questioned how much could be read into the survey findings.
A spokesman said: "The Netflix Index only measures the speeds experienced by internet users when accessing its service.
"The Netflix Index is not an independent, end-to-end speed measurement tool like the Samknows model in the UK – which has no equivalent here in Ireland.
"As such (it) is not an indication of the availability of broadband speeds in Ireland, nor an indication of the level of speeds on offer by particular ISPs to their respective subscribers."
Ireland currently has no independent yardstick by which to measure broadband speed performance, a sore point for many users who suspect they're not getting the optimum speeds advertised and paid for.
However, ComReg has announced that it will be unveiling a new independent online speed measurement tool in September.