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Ask Arthur: Why is my stream buffering all the time?

A reader says that both Netflix and Showmax are becoming difficult to watch. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK tries to bring back the binge.

Q: I used to love binge-watching on Netflix and Showmax. Now both of them keep buffering and it is just too frustrating. What can I do?

A: You’re not alone. As both streaming services and Internet Service Providers’ (ISP) high-speed bandwidth become oversubscribed, the services can become congested, and the stream can falter badly. However, the problem often lies elsewhere.

If you’re streaming in high-definition (HD), you should have a minimum internet speed of 25 Mbps. If you’re sticking to standard definition (SD), which is really low-definition, 4 Mbps should theoretically be enough, but nowadays is not adequate when you have multiple devices connected to the same feed. Welcome to buffer city.

If you think you have a high-speed connection but it feels slow, check your internet speed via If actual speed is far lower than what your service is supposed to be, it’s time to contact your ISP.

If the speed is good but the feed is bad, ie still buffering, try connecting your streaming device to the internet using an Ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi. That gives you a more stable and faster connection.

If you have a relatively low-speed service, shut down or disconnect all other devices from the Internet while trying to watch a streaming service. That should allocate all your capacity to the stream.

If all else fails, simply restart both your streaming device and router. If it still fails, it’s time to check the Wi-FI router itself. It may need an update in its firmware, which would include bug fixes and performance improvements. And if THAT fails, it may be time to get a new router.

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