BBC iPlayer streaming guide
BBC iPlayer has a high definition (HD) option, encoding in at least a 1280x720 / 720p resolution. Other UK TV streaming services like: iTV Hub, All4 and My5 stream in standard definition only. Streaming or downloading a 30 minute program with BBC iPlayer will use approximately 1.20Gb of data in HD. The same program in standard definition (SD) will use around 680Mb. Settings within the app will allow you to download at the most appropriate rate. HD is only advised if you are on an unlimited broadband package. You'll need a connection speed of at least 5Mbps to watch BBC iPlayer in HD uninterrupted, or 1.5Mbps for SD. Check if your internet speed is fast enough for HD TV.
Netflix streaming guide
Our broadband usage calculator can calculate your Netflix usage requirement. Netflix uses about 700Mb of data per hour when streaming in SD, and up to 3Gb per hour if streaming in HD. Streaming in 4K will consume up to 7Gb per hour. Selecting the 'Auto' setting under 'Data Usage' in your Netflix account, will adjust your picture resolution to the highest quality possible - based on your current internet speed. This is only advisable if you're on an unlimited broadband package.
High Definition (HD): 720p resolution (1,280 x 720 - approximately 1 million pixels)
Full HD: 1080p resolution (1,920 x 1,080 - approximately 2 million pixels)
Ultra HD: 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160 - approximately 8 million pixels)
Is my broadband connection fast enough for 4K TV?
If you want to stream in HD or 4K and aren't sure if your internet connection is up to it, you can check your broadband speed using our broadband speed tester.
What is a fair usage policy?
Some internet service providers (ISP) apply a fair usage policy. By agreeing to your broadband contract you agree to use your connection reasonably. The small print might state 'you mustn't use it beyond what can be reasonably expected of someone using the service for domestic purposes'. So, if you're downloading ridiculously high levels of data month after month from sites like BitTorrent, or uploading large data backups to cloud storage, then your ISP may investigate it. For most users this is very unlikely to be an issue, even if you're a heavy user or a Netflix binge-watcher. If you're concerned about your data usage, you could switch to a provider with a policy package called 'Truly unlimited'. Currently; BT, Plusnet, Sky & TalkTalk offer "Truly unlimited" broadband with no traffic management monitoring.
What is smartphone data usage?
Smartphone data usage is basically the amount of data that you use during one billing cycle. Your smartphone data is used whenever you use your phone's internet connection to perform any task. Data charges vary depending on your mobile phone tariff. Using your phone abroad on a roaming network can be very expensive, unless your network provider lets you use your local mobile data allowance in the country you've travelled to.
Smartphone data is typically used for:
- Browsing the internet
- Sending and receiving emails
- Browsing social media
- Usings apps and online games
- Downloading apps
- Apple iMessaging, Facetime & Facetime audio (iPhone users)
- Streaming video (ie. YouTube, Netflix, Vimeo, Skype, Zoom)
- Streaming music (ie. Spotify, Apple Music)
- Using data whilst connected to a WiFi network will not impact on your tariff's data allowance
What is a data cap?
A data cap or data allowance is a specific amount of data which you can use during one billing cycle, with penalties for exceeding the limit. Exceeding your data cap is likely to automatically trigger a reduction in speed, or the suspension of your account services. A data cap/limit is more typical of mobile phone tariffs, but can also apply to home broadband packages if you have not opted for an unlimited broadband plan. Broadband deals are either advertised as 'unlimited usage' or state a specific amount of data that you can use each month i.e 20Gb per month. You can use our broadband calculator above to estimate your monthly usage.
Broadband usage calculator small print
Our broadband usage calculator should be used as a guide only. Your broadband usage may vary from the figure shown. All data entered is anonymous, not stored and solely used for the purpose of the calculation.