Netflix HD Streaming Issue in Evenings and Weekends

Tutor

Netflix HD Streaming Issue in Evenings and Weekends

I have had AT&T U-verse (Internet Only) for about 10 months with no problems. I have Max Plus 18 Mbps service.

 

Recently I signed up for Netflix streaming service and I have noticed that if I stream a HD movie from Netflix (Super HD per Netflix) during a week day between 7:00 AM and 3:00 PM it works perfectly.  According to my Sony Blu-ray Player (BDP-S790) it receives at 1080 HD resolution. 

 

However, if I stream a HD movie after 3:00 PM on a week day or on a weekend I cannot get 1080 HD resolution. The resolution will drop to 480 or lower and the degradation can clearly be seen on the screen of the TV. I have checked my downstream speed using Speedtest.net and it always indicates a range of 17-20 Mbps. I know that streaming a HD movie requires about 6 Mbps, therefore I should be able to stream a HD movie without any drop in the resolution.

 

My wife and I are retired and there are no other users/devices/TV competing for bandwidth when we choose to watch Netlflix. However, I cannot stream HD movies at 1080 HD resolution in the evenings or on weekends.

 

How can this be resolved?

Message 1 of 25 (8,714 Views)
Employee

Re: Netflix HD Streaming Issue in Evenings and Weekends

At 4:00 PM Pacific, using three different devices (Samsung F9000, Oppo BDP-103 Universal player and Asus Zenbook Prime laptop, all connected via Ethernet), we played three different Super HD videos, including each of Netflix’s high-quality El Fuente streams, and timed both how long it took for the video to begin playing, and how long it took for the video to work its way up to full 1080p resolution.  We then repeated the experiment later that evening at 9:30 PM, again at 6:00 AM the following morning and one last time at 9:30 PM the second day. Before streaming the video, we took no less than three bandwidth tests using different servers from each of two different websites. In all cases, our download speeds measured out to somewhere between 40 and 55 Mbps on average – more than sufficient for Netflix Super HD. 

At the 4:30 p.m. time slot, when most viewers were likely busy cursing rush-hour traffic or wrapping up their TPS reports,  the videos took an average of 15.88 seconds to load. In two instances, the stream came in at 1080p right out of the gate; for the remainder, streams started out at 720p and took an average of 12.74 seconds to buffer up to 1080p. Based on our considerable experience streaming Super HD via Netflix, we’d say this experience was par for the course. 

At 9:30 p.m., however, right around when the kids are in bed and others are three beers deep and starting to Jones for some plain-faced ladies in orange jumpsuits, things changed … dramatically. Running the same tests, we never achieved 1080p resolution (save one fleeting moment on a laptop). On three occasions we did manage to spool up to 720p, but in each of those cases it took over four minutes to get there. For the most part, we were stuck with 480p – essentially standard definition. When we repeated the test at the same time the following day, we got essentially the same results. Four times we managed to get up to 720P, but it took over three minutes in all cases and for the most part we were stuck at 480p. At the time, we thought to ourselves, “if it was like this all the time, we’d probably never bother with Netflix.” 

 

The results we got at 6:00 a.m. were about what you’d expect considering most folks are waiting for the Mr. Coffee to finish its agonizingly long brew cycle at that time. Load times were slashed to 8.4 seconds on average and, in every case, the stream started at 1080p out of the gate. It is also worth mentioning that the El Fuente streams took about 20 percent longer on average than the other Super HD videos we streamed, adding about 3 seconds to the averages we’ve listed. 

Given that the bandwidth measurements we took remained constant, and because we were able to reliably stream a 1080p movie from VUDU in a fraction of the time, we’re sure there wasn’t anything choking up our Internet access. And that would seem to imply that Netflix has a problem keeping up with the demand on its services. That could certainly be the case. According to Sandvine, Netflix is responsible for roughly a third of peak downstream Internet traffic in the US on hard-wired Internet connections. 

That’s a lot of data to serve up, and Netflix knows it. But Netflix also knows that the movie stream it sends to its users can wind up getting diverted through several different Internet “pipes” between its servers and users’ TV’s due to peering, an aspect of the Internet’s structure that allows big ISP’s to use each other’s “backbones” to get data from point A to point B . That may be one of the reasons it developed its “Open Connect” program, which sets up a direct peer connection between Netflix and those ISPs that decide to play ball. Open Connect helps ensure Netflix customers can watch high-quality video very quickly. But many ISP’s aren’t real big on the whole Open Connect idea. In fact, Google Fiber, Cablevision Systems, Cox Communications and Suddenlink Communications are the only big players who have agreed to participate in the Open Connect program. 

 

So what can you do to improve your Netflix video quality if your ISP doesn’t participate in Open Connect? Not a lot. If you’re a PC user, you can “force HD.” It may take 10 minutes to buffer, but at least what you watch will look good (albeit at 720p – only Windows 8 users with a compatible Netflix app can enjoy Super HD on a PC). Or, you could always lobby your ISP to get on board with Netflix (they may not have a choice soon). But outside of that, you’re pretty much at the mercy of Netflix’s bandwidth and the whims of the Interwebs.

That has us wondering: If Netflix struggles at times to reliably deliver 1080p content, which the company says requires 7 Mbps, how is it going to pull off Ultra HD content, which it claims will require at least double the bandwidth at 15 Mbps? Netflix says it plans to make Ultra HD content available in the first half of 2014. Is it banking on Open Connect to make it possible? We’ll know soon enough. 

 

 

Employee Contributor*
*I am an AT&T employee and the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent AT&T's position, strategies or opinions.
Message 2 of 25 (8,670 Views)
Tutor

Cannot Stream Netflix in HD After 3:00 PM and Weekends

I have had AT&T U-verse (Internet Only) for about 10 months with no problems. I have Max Plus 18 Mbps service.

 

Recently I signed up for Netflix streaming service and I have noticed that if I stream a HD movie from Netflix (Super HD per Netflix) during a week day between 7:00 AM and 3:00 PM it works perfectly.  According to my Sony Blu-ray Player (BDP-S790) it receives at 1080 HD resolution.

 

However, if I stream a HD movie after 3:00 PM on a week day or on a weekend I cannot get 1080 HD resolution. The resolution will drop to 480 or lower and the degradation can clearly be seen on the screen of the TV. I have checked my downstream speed using Speedtest.net and it always indicates a range of 17-20 Mbps. I know that streaming a HD movie requires about 6 Mbps, therefore I should be able to stream a HD movie without any drop in the resolution.

 

My wife and I are retired and there are no other users/devices/TV competing for bandwidth when we choose to watch Netlflix. However, I cannot stream HD movies at 1080 HD resolution in the evenings or on weekends.

 

How can this be resolved?

Message 3 of 25 (8,673 Views)
Employee

Re: Cannot Stream Netflix in HD After 3:00 PM and Weekends

While you may have no other devices in your household competing for bandwidth, on the information superhighway this is prime traffic congestion time. Everyone turning on and tuning in. Your request is now competing with all others for bandwidth on same lines until rush hour traffic decreases.

As your retired recommend Netflix when others are at work and school, use DVD or DVR or live TV if not willing to watch lower resolution.

Even those with twice (50M) and more (100M) have same issues. Too many users at one time (30% + of all traffic) using Netflix.
Employee Contributor*
*I am an AT&T employee and the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent AT&T's position, strategies or opinions.
Message 4 of 25 (8,656 Views)
Mentor

Re: Cannot Stream Netflix in HD After 3:00 PM and Weekends

[ Edited ]

I have the same issue with Netflix, iTunes, YouTube, etc. in my area.  It is due to AT&T's network being over subscribed.  You'll find lots of people here trying to defend AT&T in this area, but when the pattern is easily identifyable, repeats every day, and never improves (it isn't an issue on other ISPs) it is obvious that AT&T isn't going to upgrade capacity to accomodate us any time soon.

Message 5 of 25 (8,488 Views)
ACE - Expert

Re: Cannot Stream Netflix in HD After 3:00 PM and Weekends

[ Edited ]

jesserehmer wrote:

I have the same issue with Netflix, iTunes, YouTube, etc. in my area.  It is due to AT&T's network being over subscribed.  You'll find lots of people here trying to defend AT&T in this area, but when the pattern is easily identifyable, repeats every day, and never improves it is obvious that AT&T isn't going to upgrade capacity to accomodate us any time soon.


Please define what you mean by "over subscribed," so that everyone has a clear understanding of it.

 

Do you mean that they are not providing enough capacity out to their customers from their core network?

Do you mean that their core network doesn't have enough capacity?  Or...

Do you mean that some content providers are overloading portions of the Internet peering system and that AT&T is affected by this?

 

 

*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
Message 6 of 25 (8,485 Views)
Mentor

Re: Cannot Stream Netflix in HD After 3:00 PM and Weekends


JefferMC wrote:

jesserehmer wrote:

I have the same issue with Netflix, iTunes, YouTube, etc. in my area.  It is due to AT&T's network being over subscribed.  You'll find lots of people here trying to defend AT&T in this area, but when the pattern is easily identifyable, repeats every day, and never improves it is obvious that AT&T isn't going to upgrade capacity to accomodate us any time soon.


Please define what you mean by "over subscribed," so that everyone has a clear understanding of it.

 

Do you mean that they are not providing enough capacity out to their customers from their core network?

Do you mean that their core network doesn't have enough capacity?  Or...

Do you mean that some content providers are overloading portions of the Internet peering system and that AT&T is affected by this?

 

 


What I'm saying is that they are taking measures to ensure that all customers get TV and Voice service because if everyone was utilizing the Internet traffic they are paying for there wouldn't be enough to go around and other services would be impacted.  The problem with that is that when Netflix is not working properly I can download a 100GB file at a steady 22Mbps - which clearly proves they are targetting specific destinations for shaping/throttling.  They aren't applying equal shaping, instead are targeting high consumption CDNs for throttling.  Its not a matter of having the throughput - its a matter of AT&T allowing the specific connection from me to a CDN to utilize the full throughput capability. 

Message 7 of 25 (8,479 Views)
ACE - Expert

Re: Cannot Stream Netflix in HD After 3:00 PM and Weekends


jesserehmer wrote:

What I'm saying is that they are taking measures to ensure that all customers get TV and Voice service because if everyone was utilizing the Internet traffic they are paying for there wouldn't be enough to go around and other services would be impacted.  The problem with that is that when Netflix is not working properly I can download a 100GB file at a steady 22Mbps - which clearly proves they are targetting specific destinations for shaping/throttling.  They aren't applying equal shaping, instead are targeting high consumption CDNs for throttling.  Its not a matter of having the throughput - its a matter of AT&T allowing the specific connection from me to a CDN to utilize the full throughput capability. 


First of all, pull voice out of this, because while it has stringent latency requirements, it has almost no bandwidth requirements to speak of.

 

Secondly, pull IPTV out of this, because IPTV is (a) multicast, and (b) private networked up until it reaches the fiber at your CO.  (a) All of the IPTV customers from your central office share one feed of all the channels up to the point your VRAD splits it out for your home. (b) it's carried on an AT&T private network separate from their Internet network.

 

You apply the facts and see only one possible cause: AT&T is deliberately targeting a source.

 

I apply the facts and see multiple possible causes.  My list of causes includes the one you accept, but I rank it much less likely than other possible causes.

 

I think that AT&T could  possibly unilaterally alleviate this issue by increasing its peering capabilities for incoming traffic at certain points, in excess of what its peering capabilities for outflow, in contradiction to the typical Internet peering model.  However, this would be at a cost, a cost that would have to be borne by someone.  Netflix is taking peoples money to create this traffic, maybe they should pay for this cost.  ya think?

 

*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
Message 8 of 25 (8,473 Views)
Explorer

Re: Cannot Stream Netflix in HD After 3:00 PM and Weekends

"As your retired recommend Netflix when others are at work and school, use DVD or DVR or live TV if not willing to watch lower resolution."

 

This is the scripted AT&T answer. However, it is the most condescending regardless of the author's affiliation or employment. Yet it demonstrates their apparent ignorance.

 

"Life is tough... It's even tougher if your stupid."  John Wayne

 

 

Message 9 of 25 (8,362 Views)
ACE - Expert

Re: Cannot Stream Netflix in HD After 3:00 PM and Weekends

I seriously doubt this is a scripted answer.  This sounds more like an individual trying to get to the next call.

 

*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
Message 10 of 25 (8,343 Views)

Re: Netflix HD Streaming Issue in Evenings and Weekends

thanks for this post. i signed up for uverse last night to be installed 2/14 and have been having trouble with netfix etc ever sense.  Im cancelling this mess before it starts. Thanks so much for saving me from this headach

Message 11 of 25 (8,322 Views)
Highlighted

Re: Netflix HD Streaming Issue in Evenings and Weekends

I'm having the same issues.  Too many troubleshooting steps have been done to repeat them here.  I've had an inside tech here three times and an outside tech three times.  Modem has been replaced twice.  I replaced all cables involved multiple times.  AT&T has checked the wiring, found an issue with it and fixed it.  No difference with Netflix, however.  If I use my smartphone as a hotspot, I can stream in HD to my hearts content.  Since this issue has been going on at least two months, I'm going to be dropping my U-verse service.

Message 12 of 25 (8,178 Views)
Tutor

Re: Netflix HD Streaming Issue in Evenings and Weekends

Encountering similar problem since the start of the year.  I can stream without rebuffering via my 4G LTE service, but not through 18Mbps Uverse feed.  Time to start looking for alternatives.

 

Message 13 of 25 (8,140 Views)

Re: Netflix HD Streaming Issue in Evenings and Weekends

[ Edited ]

As a follow-up to my previous post, I ordered Charter cable internet last week and, after using it a week, it has been working great and I am having none of the issues that I have with U-verse. Time to cancel U-verse. FYI, I am in Madison, WI for those in the area with the same problems.

Message 14 of 25 (7,958 Views)
ACE - Master

Re: Netflix HD Streaming Issue in Evenings and Weekends

[ Edited ]

We have new smart TV and just now trying out NetFlix because of the 1 month free trial period.  I selected a movie that is labeled as HD and started it playing.  But our TV is receiving only SD version.  In the meantime our Internet service has dropped severely in speed.  Using a test server that I normally get around 20 mbps down load speed.....it has slowed to around 1.5 mbps.   If this is the best we can do we certainly will not anti up almost $8 per month for NetFlix.  Also....it is midnight if the time means anything. We subscribe to the 18 mbps service.    More experimentation is called for.

 

I probably should mention that our set is connected to the Internet through our home network via Wi-Fi.

 

EDIT:   Tonight I got on the chat service with NetFlix CS and he told me to go to my NetFlix account screen on my PC.  Then scroll down and click on NetFlix playback settings.  There I found a setting for bandwidth.  It was set on automatic.  I changed it to the HD setting and then clicked on SAVE.

 

Then I went back to NetFlix on my new Sony and brought up another movie and started playing it.   It was labeled HD........and after it started playing I pushed the "display" button my remote and a notation came up in the upper left hand corner telling me that I was now watching in 1080p HD.  And the picture quality was super.

 

Here is link to the screen to do this.  You need to be registered with NetFlix:

 

https://support.netflix.com/en/node/272#other-devices

 

Good luck.

The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples' money. .......Margaret Thatcher
*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
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