The very first movie-on-demand service launched in India was BIGFlix. Within the past decade, the segment has grown exponentially and now there are around 40 OTT (over-the-top) streaming services in India. There are over 550 million Indian users accessing video content from various devices. In such a crowded landscape if you wish for your internet streaming services to work impeccably, you would need a great device for viewing content and a high internet speed.
When you are using an internet streaming service to watch your favorite movies or TV shows there are two main things you might look for-
- Consistency in connectivity (lack of buffering)
- Ability to stream in the highest quality supported (you might not enjoy a 360p or 480p video on a large screen smartphone or tablet). HD and 4K videos should be streamed effortlessly wherever possible.
All it takes to lay the foundation for streaming services is a reliable broadband connection and a plan that offers suitable bandwidth for all the connected devices in your household. Then come the following checks-
1. Connect only what’s necessary
Most internet connectionsare chosen for a household to create a smart home environment. The charm of being able to control your household appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, and more simply through voice commands is alluring. However, as you start loading your internet bandwidth with more and more devices you might notice a drop in the performance.
The real difference might not be felt while you are casually browsing the internet or checking your social media updates. Try streaming online content or placing a video call and you might notice momentary lags or drops in signal quality. These could be the consequences of a crowded wireless network at home.
Devices that only send across small packets of data like smart bulbs and refrigerators that need to communicate when you send a command to turn them on, might not be the real problem. You should be more worried about the presence of more than one streaming device in the same network. While you try to watch a movie from an OTT platform on your smart TV, if someone else at home accesses a video streaming service from a laptop or computer connected to the same network, the problem arises. If you wish to experience your favorite content uninterrupted, stop all other video streaming services on the other devices, and pause downloads.
2. Look for unauthorized users
Even after doing the above, check if your network seems to be slowing down, you should look for the presence of unauthorised connections in your network. Your router configuration page should give you information about all the devices currently connected to the network. If you find an unidentified device, it would be time to change your network password. This would not just improve your streaming experience but also save your network and devices from being hacked.
3. Router checks
After ensuring that there are no malicious connections and stopping all downloads in the connected devices if you are still experiencing lags, the following router checks should be performed.
- The position of the router should be such that there are not many thick walls and metal structures between the router antennas and the streaming device. Routers should preferably be positioned slightly above the ground for better reflection of the wireless signals.
- Firmware updates should be done regularly on the router. This would ensure the security and resilience of the connection.
- Make it a point to restart your router regularly.
- Use a Wi-Fi signal strength analysing tool and identify the best channel for your connections.
4. Wireless interference
Even with a good router positioned optimally for uninterrupted network connectivity, there could be some nearby devices affecting the network performance.
Microwave, cordless telephones, Bluetooth receivers, and other devices that make use of the 2.4GHz channel for communication can all cause minor to major interferences in the Wi-Fi network. Web pages might load without any trouble even with such interferences. Even for downloads, you might not notice the sudden network speed changes. But such wireless interferences can cause a visible reduction in the internet streaming experience. This is why you should be sure that there are no wireless devices nearby hampering your internet connections.
5. Is it time for an upgrade?
After you have done everything possible, if you still find high-quality videos difficult to stream, then it might be time to upgrade your router. The problem could arise in two situations.
- Your ISP provides a good bandwidth, but you have an outdated router that has a very low throughput
- Your router doesn’t get firmware updates any longer.
When you do upgrade to a new router, pick a dual-band option or a tri-band router. This would let you choose a different channel or the 5GHz frequency for your streaming devices while keeping the rest of the devices at home connected.
6. Get back to a wired connection
Though there are some sophisticated routers in the market, for a movie marathon to feel satisfactory an Ethernet connection would never let you down. If your laptop or smart TV where you access OTT apps comes with an Ethernet port, choose to use the wired connection especially while streaming content. This would avoid interferences and data loss that affect performance in a wireless network.
7. Hardware acceleration
One other small yet significant check to perform is to evaluate the hardware settings on your device, especially when you are streaming movies from a Windows computer. When the hardware acceleration feature is turned on some old devices might display a drop in responsiveness, especially when you are streaming high-quality videos. Turning it off might give you a noticeable improvement in streaming high definition videos.
These little checks ensure that your plan to watch a movie with your family actually ends up as a relaxing experience than a frustrating task due to videos taking forever to buffer. All those OTT subscriptions and the high internet speed broadband plan you paid for would no more go waste due to other factors affecting the streaming quality.