Netflix Updates ISP Speed Index -- Highlights Need for High Fiber Diet

By Peter Bernstein August 13, 2013

Netflix, which knows more than just a little about how customers experience its product, is out with its updated ISP Speed Index for July. It proves what we all know about how the need for speed can only be satisfied with a fiber-enriched diet. And, while it is not a comprehensive view of every country in the world, the comparative information about the eight countries it does look at is interesting, along with the more detailed breakdowns by country and carrier. 

Netflix ISP Speed Index looks at lots of traffic and is updated monthly

The Netflix ISP Speed Index is based on data from the more than 36 million Netflix members who view over one billion hours of TV shows and movies streaming from Netflix per month.

In his blog announcing the index update, Joris Evers, director of corporate communications at Netflix, notes that, “The listed speeds reflect the average performance of all Netflix streams on each ISP's network and are an indicator of the performance typically experienced across all users on an ISP network.” There is also the following caution note that, “The average performance is below the peak performance due to many factors including the variety of encodes Netflix uses to deliver the TV shows and movies as well as the variety of devices members use and home network conditions. These factors cancel out when comparing across ISPs.” 

For those of you who like to keep score and are frequent visitors to the speed index, it should come as no surprise that Northern European countries continue to provide the fastest average speeds. Given the newness of its network, it should also not be surprising that in the U.S., Google Fiber is the king of the mountain at the moment.  

Netflix ISP Speed Index for July 

Source: Nextflix Speed Index

As a U.S. resident, I was interested to see if the two options I have available in my neighborhood, Verizon FiOS and Optimum from Cablevision, were either ranked high or close enough to make a different. I happen to be a happy FiOS customer after having been a relatively satisfied but not thrilled Optimum customer before a recent move, and it turns out the difference on average is larger than I expected, but as with the real estate market my suspicion is this a function of location, location, location.    

Source: Nextflix Speed Index

What does stand out, as noted above, is the primacy of fiber-based connections. The difference between the fiber networks and DSL services is substantial. 

What this also highlights is why the good folks at Netflix not only are rooting for faster fiber deployments around the globe, but also to more pervasive access to 4G mobile networks as well.

How much these kind of differences between fiber-based services can impact customer churn is not part of this exercise. That is for one of the consumer research and industry analyst firms to figure out. However, speed is only one consideration in the selection of a service provider. My choice, for example, was driven by price and what premium entertainment channels I had access to as part of my bundle along with looking at the data plan terms and conditions.  

That said, if you are an industry enthusiast, bookmarking the index home page might be something you wish to do so you can check in occasionally on the horse race both here and abroad.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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