How fast does your Wi-Fi needs to be for smooth streaming?

Here’s a simple guide to help you understand better what your requirements are to achieve your daily tasks that require the internet.

Streaming speeds required to music

Online streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer, or Apple Music allow you to stream music at different qualities for data-saving purposes. Handing you the ability to calculate your data usage. Here are the minimum megabytes per second required to stream music at their respective different qualities:

Streaming Speed Breakdown
Low Quality:0.13 Mbps
Medium Quality:0.16 Mbps
Highest Quality:0.3 Mbps

Note that the requirements differ per streaming service. These are averages.

Streaming speeds required for YouTube

Youtube is a video-based platform where videos allow the option to stream in 4K resolution. However, Youtube also allows you to stream at a lower resolution setting for instances where one is listening to an audiobook. Knowing your preferred viewing option is a great way to understand how much data you need per second to stream video content on Youtube.

Streaming speeds breakdown (YouTube)
Standard Definition >360p streaming:0.7 Mbps
Standard Definition480p streaming:1.1 Mbps
High Definition720p streaming:2.5 Mbps
High Definition1080p streaming:5 Mbps
4K streaming
2160p streaming:25 Mbps

Streaming speeds required for Netflix

Fortunately for the bingers, Netflix has a similar ability to select different viewing quality settings. These are divided into three:

Streaming Speeds (Netflix)
Standard Definition3 Mbps
High Definition5 Mbps
4K Premium25 Mbps

Data Savings TIPS

Here are data saving tips to reduce data wastage and save thousands of rands in the long run!

  1. Bonus: Stream, watch or listen on lower quality.
    Don’t worry, you’ll still hear the bass when the beat drops. This will save you a ton of data in the long run. A 1-hour music playlist streaming on a lower bandwidth will use 10MB instead of 100MB. Click here for info on how to change music streaming settings.
  2. Bonus: Facebook: Stop auto-playing videos.
    Checking Facebook every five minutes certainly eats into your data plan, but checking Facebook every five minutes while letting it autoplay videos is worse. Thankfully, you can limit auto-play videos to Wi-Fi only or disable them altogether. Here’s how: Open the Facebook application and tap the three lines in the lower-right corner. Select the Account Settings and tap Videos and Photos. Tap Autoplay and then choose either On Wi-Fi Connections Only or Never Autoplay Videos. Read more.
  3. Limit your data usage in Android Settings.
    Head over to the Settings and tap on Data Usage > Billing Cycle > Data limit and billing cycle. There you can set the maximum amount of data you intend to use in a month. Read more.
  4. Stream video and music at a lower quality.
    Youtube consumes a lot of data, so make sure you lower the video resolution while using mobile data on Android. Read more.
  5. Update apps and system over Wi-Fi only.
    Many apps come with the option to auto-update on Wi-Fi only. You can turn on these settings. Read more.


Restrict App background data

from Fossbytes suggests that you restrict application background data. Some apps keep consuming mobile data even when the smartphone is not in use. Go to Settings >> Data Usage to see which apps use up the most amount of data ad make sure to close that application after use or switch off your mobile data when not in use. Read more here.

Use data compression in Chrome

Google Chrome is one of the most popular Android browsers. It has an inbuilt feature that can significantly reduce data consumption on Android. When data compression is turned on, all of your traffic is passed through a proxy run by Google. Your data is compressed and optimized before being sent to your phone. This results in lower data consumption and also speeds up the loading of pages without any significant change in web content.

To use data compression, open Chrome, tap on the 3-dot menu on the upper right corner, tap on Settings, and scroll down to Data Saver. There you can tap on the upper right corner to toggle Data Saver on.

Disable auto-play videos

The majority of social sites encourage watch hours by having auto-play videos switched on. Facebook has recently added a feature that automatically plays videos in your newsfeed. However, there is a way to combat this. Go to Facebook Menu > Settings > Videos and Photos > Autoplay. Read more here.

Save data in Google Maps – Caching Google Maps

You can download an area in Google Maps so that it uses less data when navigating to your destination. Not only does this save you tons of mobile data, it also improves the experience if you’re traveling through a low reception area.

While there’s some debate on the size of the cap, there is a limit on the amount of data you can cache. If surpassed, you’ll be asked to zoom on a smaller area.

To save a map for offline use:

  1. Open Google Maps and search for the location you want to save. Tap the bottom info bar and then tap Download.
  2. Choose the size of the region you want to save, name it and you’re done!

Get detailed instructions for Android and iOS.

Save data in music streaming apps – Offline listening

Many of the popular audio streaming apps offer different ways to listen to your tunes without having to stream them over a network connection.

Spotify lets you download your albums and playlists. If you use Apple Music, you can add songs, albums and playlists to your library. With Google Play Music, you can download everything – songs, albums, playlists and radio stations.

Bonus Data Saving Tips

  1. Bonus: Find out which application uses the most data
    Then make the effort to limit your time on that application. For example, Instagram uses a lot of data because it is an image + video-based application. You can also choose to set the app to not autoplay videos and only click on videos you want to watch.
  2. Bonus: Google Chrome is king, we know.
    But it’s not king at saving your data. Try other browser applications like Opera Mini. They are designed to load faster and use fewer data eg: you can choose to load low-quality images. It has the ability to compress files in order to save data.
  3. Bonus: YouTube: Stop automatic streaming in High HD
    YouTube is, for many, the biggest data consumer. But the difference in data use between the different bandwidth options is MASSIVE! 1 hour of HD (1080p) Youtube uses 1.5GB compared to 0.3GB MB p/h at 360p!
YouTube Data Consumption: Video Quality Comparison

Applying this same calculation to YouTube’s other quality options results in the following estimates for YouTube data usage per hour.

Note that for 720p quality and above, YouTube also supports videos at 60FPS (frames per second) instead of the standard 30FPS. A higher FPS results in smoother video, but also more data usage, as you’d expect.

  • 144p: No bitrate provided by YouTube.
  • 240p: 225MB per hour
  • 360p: 315MB per hour
  • 480p: 562.5MB per hour
  • 720p at 30FPS: 1237.5MB (1.24GB) per hour
  • 720p at 60FPS: 1856.25MB (1.86GB) per hour
  • 1080p at 30FPS: 2.03GB per hour
  • 1080p at 60FPS: 3.04GB per hour
  • 1440p (2K) at 30FPS: 4.28GB per hour
  • 1440p (2K) at 60FPS: 6.08GB per hour
  • 2160p (4K) at 30FPS: 10.58GB per hour
  • 2160p (4K) at 60FPS: 15.98GB per hour

Here’s how to do it: Once you have a video open on Youtube, tap the three dots on the top-right area of the screen. Choose ‘Quality’ next to the gear icon and you’ll see the various quality settings available for that particular video. Read more.

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