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Question on 4K streaming and Internet Speed

rmiller1959

Regular Contributor
I bought an Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K so I could watch the Super Bowl in 4K HDR, and my experience left me frustrated. It worked beautifully for a while – the picture was absolutely gorgeous. At some point, however, the picture would occasionally freeze, and then it stopped altogether and gave me an error message. Someone speculated it might be because the children upstairs were streaming a Netflix show while we were watching the Super Bowl, and we might not have the capacity to do both. I switched to the normal HD broadcast so we wouldn’t miss the game, and it was noticeably poorer quality than what we’d been watching before. If nothing else, it validated my belief that there is an observable difference between the two.

I have a 300mbps Internet service, which should be more than enough to handle two simultaneous video streams, right? If I have a bandwidth issue, I may upgrade to the 1Gb service because we will ditch satellite TV at some point for full streaming of content, and I need to be confident that my connection can handle it.

I shouldn't have a bandwidth problem, but it sure seems like I do. I welcome your thoughts!
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
@rmiller1959, what router are you using? So, satellite ISP? 300Mbps down, but how much for up?

What WiFi band are you on with the Amazon Fire Stick 4K? How far from the router? Can you test a wired connection to it? I think I have heard it mentioned that the Fire Stick prefers wired over wireless (I may be wrong here).

It is certainly not a download bandwidth issue with 300Mbps download service. But there are many other factors to do come into play. :)
 

MichaelCG

Very Senior Member
Do you not have an antenna? It will give far superior quality for football than most streaming will.....assuming you can get the broadcast that is. I didn't know anyone was streaming it in actual 4k. Then again, I have never looked very hard. Quite happy in general when things are 1080 for the most part.

We watched the playoff games at a friends house who was using Streaming. His downstairs TV and his upstairs TV were out of sync by almost 2 minutes. If we missed a play downstairs, just walk upstairs to see it again. It was horrible. I made fun of his crappy streaming and asked why he hasn't just hooked up a $20 antenna to watch the game directly. We both live within 15 miles of the broadcast towers in KC so even the most basic antenna works fine here. Lucky for us, when we watched the Superbowl at a different friend's house, they were using an antenna so all TVs were in sync.

My guess is your Internet connection is fine...more than likely your WiFi was the culprit or something further down the line at your ISP (network congestion within the Internet). I know at my in-laws house, 4k streaming in general is very hit or miss. It isn't their WiFi (I hardwired one of their devices to confirm), so more than likely just growing pains of the 4k providers and the Internet connections between providers and consumers being solid enough to support it all.
 

CaptainSTX

Part of the Furniture
Sports seem to be the biggest problem with streaming as everyone wants it real time live at exactly the same time. One of the providers of 4K Super Bowl streaming crashed as their network couldn't handle the load.

Your bandwidth is more than adequate for multiple 4K streams as the usually only need bursts of 20 Mbps downloads.
 

rmiller1959

Regular Contributor
My configuration follows:

- DIRECTV (for TV service only)
- Arris DG3450 Cable Gateway (ISP is Shentel, a cable service provider)
- Speed: up to 300 Mbps download, 9.52 Mbps upload
- Google Nest WiFi router w/ five access points (all are actually Nest WiFi routers; I wanted each module to have the same configuration, and the regular access points are slower - AC1200 vs AC2200 - and lack MU-MIMO capability)
- All entertainment devices are connected wirelessly; most of them, including the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, do not support a wired connection
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
5 access points? How large of an area are you covering? I think you may have oversaturated the WiFi in your home?

That 9.5Mbps upload speed isn't helping either. Are you using QoS?

Have you tested which band everything is connected to? Have you set a fixed 5GHz channel and tested for the best one?

Have you turned off 4 of the access points and only added what is needed? :)
 

rmiller1959

Regular Contributor
The house is 4,000 square feet, but there are four levels and an add-on room (the office) with one brick wall that used to be the outside of the house. As a result, there are two places that have had difficulty in the past with WiFi access, and the signal was still weak in those two places when I had a router and two access points active for the entire house.

The router is in the office on the side of the house where the Internet cable comes in and where the brick wall is located, and one access point is in the living room two rooms from the office. Another access point is upstairs in the open hallway between two bedrooms, and one is in one of the bedrooms where reception has been problematic. There is one access point in a bedroom at the lower level of the house where the media room is located. There is none in the media room because the signal is perfectly fine without one. Finally, the last access point is yet another level down in the hobby room, where signal strength was weak before.

The Google Home app automatically finds the best channel, so you can't set the band manually. You can prioritize some connected devices over others.

I hope that helps. Five access points sounds like a lot, but I needed to account for square footage and some odd architecture.
 

ct1615

Regular Contributor
Probably an upstream issue, Ive streamed the last six Superbowls via playstation vue, Hulu, and sling and had issues with all three at one point or another. In fact Ive had issues with Hulu on this years SB and playstation vue on the SB two years so its not as if they are getting better. Luckily the issues only lasted a few minutes this year.
 

coxhaus

Part of the Furniture
I have had a streaming issue with Spectrum. 5 or 6 months ago I started having pauses on my TV. It had been running for several years without issues. I saw the Spectrum bucket trucks out there doing stuff over a couple of weeks. Now the issue has gone away. I assume it was Spectrum as I changed nothing and it worked for many years.

Is it possible your wireless is using 2.4GHz wireless instead of 5GHz? I that case if you have enough going on you could have a wireless bottle neck. You need to track your wireless when this is happening. 5GHz should be able to carry the load but I think a lot people don't realize they are using 2.4GHz instead of 5GHz. 5GHz does not cover like 2.4GHz.
 

rmiller1959

Regular Contributor
I have had a streaming issue with Spectrum. 5 or 6 months ago I started having pauses on my TV. It had been running for several years without issues. I saw the Spectrum bucket trucks out there doing stuff over a couple of weeks. Now the issue has gone away. I assume it was Spectrum as I changed nothing and it worked for many years.

Is it possible your wireless is using 2.4GHz wireless instead of 5GHz? I that case if you have enough going on you could have a wireless bottle neck. You need to track your wireless when this is happening. 5GHz should be able to carry the load but I think a lot people don't realize they are using 2.4GHz instead of 5GHz. 5GHz does not cover like 2.4GHz.
Supposedly, Google Nest WiFi has a Band Steering feature that automatically chooses the band that gives me the best WiFi. I don't know what it chooses for my streaming devices.
 

MichaelCG

Very Senior Member
You can hardwire a 4k FireStick....with a $15 USB Ethernet adapter from Amazon.

No matter...you need to figure out if the device having issues is on 5GHz or 2.4Hz. 2.4Hz would "barely" have enough bandwidth available for a 4k stream in most setups. I know 2.4GHz usually tops out around 20Mbps at my house and is very bursty and only for a single active client. I can get 200-400Mbps on my 5GHz with several active clients since they are distributed across multiple APs and channels.
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
Hi @rmiller1959 . People are getting close with their suggestions. Overall, it likely comes down to a potentially flaky cable gateway, one or more weak backhaul links, interfered-with 2.4/5Ghz channels, and/or a lack of modern QoS between mesh nodes and out to the internet.

Easiest immediate solution for the FireStick on its own, as @MichaelCG suggested, is to hardwire it to your gateway and call it good, if that's possible.

Beyond that, if you're interested in addressing your wireless and buffering quality issues at large, I'd start at the cable drop and have Shentel give you a plain-Jane cable modem; not a combo router+modem unit set into bridge mode; just a plain cable modem. With a separate gateway/router (Google Nest, or whatever) you don't want your cable gateway running excess, dormant code that can often interfere with traffic flow to/from the router. Just another point of failure that can and should be eliminated. If Shentel won't swap something in for you, then I'd buy your own. Here's their list of officially supported modems. I'd do an Arris SB8200 or Netgear CM1000 as a second choice.

Second, if possible, I would trying building as much of a wired backbone in your house as possible. First choice is ethernet, either pre-existing or new runs of Cat6, or MoCa 2.0 or 2.5 over TV coaxial drops via adapters like ActionTec ECB6200's or GoCoax adapters. Even if it's just a partial backbone, it would help you hardwire more nodes as "root" APs, to flatten (or possibly eliminate) your mesh topology and drastically reduce multiplied latency between hops.

Third, if you can't do any wiring whatsoever, or if you just want the next level of product, I'd eBay the Google Nest pucks and replace with Eero Pro. It's just an entirely higher-class of code, which automatically optimizes backaul radio mix and channel selection, plus runs modern QoS between nodes and out to the internet, to automatically smooth your traffic flow and fix the buffering issues without you having to do a thing other than set it up.

Beyond that, if you could hardwire at least a few nodes, you could also replace the consumer mesh product with SMB-class, centralized APs like Ubiquiti UniFi or TP-Link Omada. This would give you the ability to use multiple channels and make better use of non-interfered-with airspace across your home. To my knowledge, no consumer mesh product, even Eero, allows for this, and as such, wastes a ton of would-be-usable channel space.

In the end, you have tons of options; it just comes down to how little or how much you're willing to do and spend, to get it right. Hope some of that helps!
 
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rmiller1959

Regular Contributor
Hi @rmiller1959 . In the end, you have tons of options; it just comes down to how little or how much you're willing to do and spend, to get it right. Hope some of that helps!
You've offered a lot of helpful suggestions - I appreciate the time you devoted to this! I will start with the cable modem. Unfortunately, Shentel sold the Arris gateway to me, so it would have to go on eBay if I'm to replace it. The sad thing is that I had an SB8200 and they told me it wouldn't work consistently with their network, so they persuaded me to sell it and buy theirs. Seeing it now on their compatibility list irritates me just a bit! :mad:

I will review your other suggestions and consider how feasible they are given my layout and finances. Thanks for your suggestions!
 

rmiller1959

Regular Contributor
So I replaced the Arris gateway with an Arris SB8200, and it is indeed compatible with my Internet service provider. It would appear, however, that I've lost some Internet speed in the exchange (and the gateway is sold, so I can't plug it back into the system). I ran the native Windows Speedtest app on my desktop like I normally would to check out the speed, and it used to exceed 300 Mbps pretty consistently (Note: the desktop is hard-wired to a switch connected to the router, using Cat 6A cable).

Since the switch, however, it's been between 245-280 Mbps. More dramatically, the Internet speed test in my Google Home app on my phone used to always read around 300 Mbps or slightly higher, but now it never exceeds 190 Mbps.

According to Google, its Internet speed test app runs against Google's servers, which they say is a more accurate representation of actual-use Internet speeds - but it ran against those servers before the switch, too, with different results. And when I change the server the Speedtest app uses to my ISP's local server, I get the 300 Mbps+ speeds I'm paying for. Also, Fast.com consistently gives me 300 Mbps speeds, and it's apparently using three Virginia-based servers (the Speedtest app also uses a Virginia server in its default setting, although not the ISP's local server).

All other variables besides the cable modem being the same, I'm assuming the cable modem isn't as capable as my old cable gateway, which is a little frustrating. Can you technically savvy folks help me understand what happened? I'm fairly experienced, but this one has me confused. I've rebooted both devices, and even had them off for an extended period of time, thanks to a five-hour power outage at my house!

Any advice is most welcome. I'm stuck with this cable modem for better or for worse, but I just want to understand what happened.
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
Most likely it's something to do with the way the modem isn't meshing with the conditions of your line and/or Shentel's upstream CMTS. But since that modem is on their officially-supported list, they do have a stake in supporting you, so I would reach out to them and have them send a tech to check the line if necessary.
 

rmiller1959

Regular Contributor
Most likely it's something to do with the way the modem isn't meshing with the conditions of your line and/or Shentel's upstream CMTS. But since that modem is on their officially-supported list, they do have a stake in supporting you, so I would reach out to them and have them send a tech to check the line if necessary.
I will reach out to them again, but I called them to explain my dilemma, and as far as they're concerned, since I get the advertised speeds when connecting to their servers, there is no issue.
 

KidJoe

New Around Here
Sorry I'm jumping in late. And I didn't read every post.

I tried watching the Superbowl in 4k using the Fox app. All afternoon for pre-game, then during the game looked great. But at some point in the first half the picture began to break up and then froze. I tried stopping and restarting, but the stream wouldn't play. So we had to switch back to cable and 720p. Man what a difference! Yikes!!

Anyway, we often stream 4k movies , and have multiple streams going without issue from Prime, MoviesAnywhere and Vudu(on Roku)

It was only the Superbowl.

And my FireTV 4k stick is hardwired to my router. So it's not a wifi issue. (I use a usb3 Ethernet adapter to get better speed than the stock Amazon one)

My thought was a server/app side issue more than anything.

And I have Comcast 300/10 service, using their gateway in bridge mode to my Netgrear 7800.
 
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rmiller1959

Regular Contributor
Sorry I'm jumping in late. And I didn't read every post.

I tried watching the Superbowl in 4k using the Fox app. All afternoon for pre-game, then during the game looked great. But at some point in the first half the picture began to break up and then froze. I tried stopping and restarting, but the stream wouldn't play. So we had to switch back to cable and 720p. Man what a difference! Yikes!!

Anyway, we often stream 4k movies , and have multiple streams going without issue from Prime, MoviesAnywhere and Vudu(on Roku)

It was only the Superbowl.

And my FireTV 4k stick is hardwired to my router. So it's not a wifi issue. (I use a usb3 Ethernet adapter to get better speed than the stock Amazon one)

My thought was a server/app side issue more than anything.

And I have Comcast 300/10 service, using their gateway in bridge mode to my Netgrear 7800.
I have heard from others that it might have been the Fox Super Bowl broadcast and not my configuration that was at fault, and what you described is exactly what happened to me. Yes, switching to the standard broadcast was jarring - the difference between 4K and 720p is dramatic!
 

admiral2145

Regular Contributor
I bought an Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K so I could watch the Super Bowl in 4K HDR, and my experience left me frustrated. It worked beautifully for a while – the picture was absolutely gorgeous. At some point, however, the picture would occasionally freeze, and then it stopped altogether and gave me an error message. Someone speculated it might be because the children upstairs were streaming a Netflix show while we were watching the Super Bowl, and we might not have the capacity to do both. I switched to the normal HD broadcast so we wouldn’t miss the game, and it was noticeably poorer quality than what we’d been watching before. If nothing else, it validated my belief that there is an observable difference between the two.

I have a 300mbps Internet service, which should be more than enough to handle two simultaneous video streams, right? If I have a bandwidth issue, I may upgrade to the 1Gb service because we will ditch satellite TV at some point for full streaming of content, and I need to be confident that my connection can handle it.

I shouldn't have a bandwidth problem, but it sure seems like I do. I welcome your thoughts!
You have a great router and a cheap firestick... Buy a shield or minix t5 box... 4k stick is trash uses 4 year old hardware.

Sent from my PH-1 using Tapatalk
 

rmiller1959

Regular Contributor
You have a great router and a cheap firestick... Buy a shield or minix t5 box... 4k stick is trash uses 4 year old hardware.

Sent from my PH-1 using Tapatalk
I have a Shield TV (2019), and it's a beauty. The only reason I bought the Fire TV Stick is because the Super Bowl 4k broadcast was not being offered on the Shield TV - only Roku and the Amazon Fire devices.
 

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