As 4K TVs slowly make their way into the living room, streaming services like Netflix are gearing up to provide higher resolution streams to match the new format. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings spoke about the possibilities and the challenges of providing Ultra HD streams at the Copenhagen Future of TV Conference. The highest quality video format Netflix currently offers is Super HD, which requires a connection between 6-12 Mbps that is only available through select ISPs in the United States. According to DSLReports, Ultra HD will consume even more bandwidth.
“It’s around 15 megabits per second,” said Hastings at the TV Conference. “It’s not too bad. If you’ve got a 50-megabit connection you’ll be fine. As an overall system load, it will grow quite slowly and steadily, giving people lots of time to build the infrastructure.”
A 50 Mbps connection is certainly a viable option, even in 2013, but according to the latest speed rankings via the NCTA, the average American connection sits around 7.4 Mbps, less than half of the required bandwidth needed to stream 4K video. It is true that 4K adoption is relatively slow, so expectations for higher quality streams will rise only gradually in the coming months. Even so, Internet connection speeds will need to climb at a greater pace if Americans wants to access their favorite on Netflix movies in 4K.