Internet Connection Requirements
According to the Netflix Canada FAQ, you’ll need a fairly fast broadband internet connection to run Netflix :
To watch movies instantly via your PC or Netflix-ready device, we recommend a broadband connection providing at least 1.5 Mbps. The faster your connection, the better your picture quality will be. For DVD-quality video and audio, you need a connection providing at least 3.0 Mbps.
Your connection speed will rise and fall depending on network usage in your home and conditions at your Internet service provider.
Netflix automatically determines the speed of your internet connection and adjusts the quality accordingly, so the faster your connection, the better the quality. From what I can tell, Netflix makes these quality adjustments in real time, as you are watching a video, rather than just at the start of the video. A couple of times, while watching a movie, I noticed the quality drop just slightly for a few seconds and then go back up again. The quality drop was subtle, manifesting itself as a very slight blurriness rather than obvious chunking-out or pixelation. In fact, the drop was so subtle that my wife didn’t even notice it.
Just how much bandwidth does Netflix use? I monitored my router’s real-time traffic graphs while watching various videos and I noticed that HD videos used anywhere from 4 to 5 Mbps (megabits per second) whereas DVD-quality videos used around 2 to 3 Mbps. Your mileage will vary greatly depending upon the particular video you are watching and the quality of your internet connection. Please take my numbers with a grain of salt!
If you are worried about your ISP charging you for running over your monthly bandwidth allocation, you can mitigate this risk by logging into the Netflix Canada website and selecting the setting “Disable HD streaming, stream in Standard Definition only”. Obviously, this will reduce the quality of the video but it may keep you on good terms with your ISP. Better yet, you should consider upgrading to a connection with a higher monthly bandwidth allocation. If you are a Shaw customer, you’ll probably want to upgrade to at least the High Speed Extreme connection to get the most out of your Netflix Canada membership.