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Slow Streaming
updated: Jun 10, 2014, 9:03 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

I am requesting help and advice from fellow Edhatters. I bought a new(er) computer, a 2007 MacBook Pro the other day. My express purpose is to watch videos from Food Network.com and HGTV.com. The computer is fine; the videos can be watched at the store (Mac Mechanic). But when I get it home the videos experience a lot of on- and-off buffering.

I just talked to Verizon who said that our area of SB has only DSL and that the videos are too intensive to run well here. The rep further said that FIOS is expected in about five months.

Does this sound right to you? Do those of you with Verizon service have this same problem? I don't have it with YouTube and Hulu but just with the networks' websites.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 527007P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 06:16 AM

Almost all DSL isn't fast enough for reliable video streaming, Verizon or otherwise. Cable is better (though expensive - we actually just upgraded our cable internet because basic was too slow for our 3 computer, online gaming household, and now pay $100/month - but basic cable internet should be just fine for video streaming in a 1 computer household) . I can't speak to any anticipating FIOS date.


 COMMENT 527011 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 06:52 AM

My movies and shows through netflix with verizon dsl work just fine once the buffer is initially filled. That can take some time. I don't know if the netflix stuff is hidef thought. Occasionally the movie will be interrupted briefly and sometimes the connection is dropped and I have to re-establish it. But generally it works okay once it starts rolling.


 COMMENT 527012 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 06:54 AM

Our basic Cable works fine with Netflix, Amazon and more.


 COMMENT 527014 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 06:57 AM

I have Verizon and some times Netflix streaming buffers every minute (like on a Friday night) for about the first ten minutes, then will be fine, and at other times there is no problem. In addition, I have a Mac and the same thing can happen, but I must say that I watch Netflix through my television.


 COMMENT 527016 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 07:01 AM

This is a problem specific to the Verizon DSL locally. Switch to cable and you will be all good. We watch HD programs via cable internet on a mac every night. Used to have Verizon but it just doesn't cut it around here.


 COMMENT 527020 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 07:22 AM

You need to run some kind of speed test to judge. DSLReports has a fine one under Tools. It can run a flash or java versions. Choose the LA server as it is the closest. My DSL tests at 2.8Mb down and 800K up. I have little problem streaming online. I have observed speeds as low as 1Mb in areas near SBHS and Goleta North, pitiful IMHO. Some dsl providers just resell inferior Verizon dsl and users get even less. I won't drop any names...
Cox cable starts at about 5MB and I see speeds over 10Mb frequently and up to 28Mbs but it is more expensive no doubt. I think about changing all the time as I am online so much. FIOS 5 months away. Be still my beating heart!


 COMMENT 527022 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 07:31 AM

My Basic cable works for hulu movies, or network shows at their websites like cbs, and u-tube and face book clips. Sometimes cox is worth the extra fees for the service over verizon. I have a mini mac and a 24 in monitor. Mini mac is a cheaper option as far as upgrades and when it becomes obsolete.


 COMMENT 527027P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 07:46 AM

DSL didn't work for us on the Westside, because the phone lines are so old that every time it rained or the lines were wet, we lost our phone and internet. We tried re-wiring house lines and everything. After calling for repair service from Verizon for the umpteenth time, we gave up and went with Cox internet. We have no problem streaming.


 COMMENT 527030 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 07:52 AM

HGTV seems to be technologically challenged in that much of their content is in Adobe FlashPlayer format and is not compatible with Android Tablets. They might be the problem, not sure how they do with Mac products, but maybe the issues lies with them and not Verizon.


 COMMENT 527046P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 08:29 AM

Verizon needs to upgrade from copper pairs it they intend to stay competitive in the online market. Any have a clue if/when they plan to upgrade to FiOS around here?


 COMMENT 527049P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 08:31 AM

046P here...d'oh - note to self: read the whole post first.


 COMMENT 527058 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 08:49 AM

Like many others have said, dsl just cant cut it.

So until verizon brings fios, verison cant cut it.


 COMMENT 527059 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 08:55 AM

1. DSL speed depends upon what service you buy, how far the signal must travel to/from your Verizon Central Office and the condition of the copper wire in your house and down the street. They sell 1, 3, 7, and 15 mb plans. A service tech person can measure and tell you exactly what speed you will get.
2. Top down stream speed is theoretical 15mb with most people getting 10-12 and just fine for streaming HD video. We get a solid 13.5. At my office we pay for the lowest level and that works fine for our purposes.
3. Verizon's top speed is (arguably) the same as Cox's shared neighborhood average at less than 1/3 the cost.Unlike Cox, the speed is constant and does not depend on your next-door neighbors' usage habits. Cable in some locations can be faster, in others slower and it doesn't matter that much anyway. 4. Service tech person told me FiOS aint happening in SB, ever. I do hope she was wrong.


 COMMENT 527063 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 09:03 AM

FIOS is hard and expensive to install in existing neighborhoods. They tend to install it in new developments, so that means you have to move to those condos in Goleta if you want it.


 COMMENT 527071 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 09:13 AM

Thank you so much, everyone! I really appreciate your input. The rep suggested getting the particular Food Network video I wanted to watch started and then stopping it for about five minutes to let DSL "catch up." He said he does that and mostly avoids that awful buffering.

I am reluctant to go with Cox considering the number of complaints I have read about them. And overall, I am happy with Verizon's support. This is just so frustrating--but maybe I need to just shrug my shoulders and realize that watching that stuff just isn't important.


 COMMENT 527076 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 09:24 AM

Because Cox has so many customers (most of SB) that makes room for more complaints than other providers. I enjoy Cox. I'd prefer an occasional hiccup in service than everyday slow internet.


 COMMENT 527090P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 09:48 AM

Most likely, it is just that DSL is slower than cable, here especially. Just wanted to check however, are you using the MacBook on a wired connection or Wi-Fi? If your speed is already low, a wired connection might help a bit.


 COMMENT 527104 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 10:04 AM

The is absoltuely NO PLAN to bring FIOS to Santa Barbara. Any rep that told you otherwise is lying to you to try and get you to keep paying Verizon's monthly bill.

BTW you cannot use the word "new" in any form when you are discussing a 7 year old computer.


 COMMENT 527136 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 11:04 AM

Don't hold your breath for Fios, not gonna happen.
Their reps have been making those claims for years.
That said, I use DSL at my office and it's very capable of streaming video. There are so many components that could be at issue-internet connection, your computer, wifi or wired connection, the specific site you are visiting having a slow server.
The list goes on and on. Step one check what speed you are getting by visiting a speedcheck site. Don't download anything just run the speedcheck. 1 and above can stream good quality video. Good luck


 COMMENT 527143 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 11:15 AM

OP here. The computer is new to me, and it replaced a 14-year-old PowerBook. It cost one-third the price of a new one, and I would prefer not to go into debt at this time for a computer.

I use wifi rather than wired. To update everyone, I contacted Verizon, Cox and my contact at Mac Mechanic. Suggestions included upgrading my speed (I can get 3 Mbps at Verizon for $10 a month more), or I can get 5 Mbps at Cox for $50 a month (after the introductory price). I am going to check my modem to see what letter it shows since it should be "N" or above. New modem at Verizon: $100. New modem at Cox: $130.

Thank you for the info about the improbability of FIOS coming any time soon. I appreciate that. Verizon does seem to be lying. Or maybe they are ignorant.

I did run a speed test with Verizon. I pay for 1 Mbps and get 1.10. Not a huge difference. At this point I am tempted to get rid of my phone and my internet. (I don't own a television.)


 COMMENT 527203 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 01:26 PM

never buy a modem from your internet provider. DSL modem from verizon is usually free, cox lets you use any docis 3.0 cable modem, you can get one on amazon a lot cheaper.


 COMMENT 527204 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 01:29 PM

I wouldn't upgrade your router if you only have 1Mbps service that will be the slowest part of your network. Even the oldest wifi router can handle that and more


 COMMENT 527224 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 02:01 PM

I used to have Verizon DSL. It was really slow and not that reliable. I switched to Cox and have been quite happy with it so far (been a few years since I switched). I would not go back to DSL. Even the top DSL speeds are slow.


 COMMENT 527307 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 04:46 PM

Think it's bad now wait for the new tiered internet. No pay no play and you'll be back to dial up speeds. Plus too much video online. Network infrastructure has it's limits. Plus web pages now load up dozens of 'partners' along with their cookies and spyware so a simple web page is like an application installing itself. .


 COMMENT 527350 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 07:13 PM

OP, the reason you can watch youtube videos with that staggeringly slow 1mbps connection is their auto-speed feature that reduces the quality of the video until it can play smoothly. With a a faster connection, you'd see much higher quality videos from youtube. Seriously, that's 33% slower than the DSL I had 14 years ago.

A cablemodem from Cox is the only way to go in SB. 3 mbps wouldn't cut it and 5 would be marginal. The prices say "for six months" but you just tell them you'll cancel if they raise your rate. 25 mbps would be the best choice if you want high quality video streaming that just works. It avoids having to worry about other bottlenecks in your network. Faster than that and you can run into wireless adapters and cheap routers that can't keep up.

Any DOCSIS2 device should work for the 25 mbps service. I got one for $10 at Goodwill in 2005. DOCSIS3 will get you around 100mbps on cable systems that sell such speeds.


 COMMENT 527357 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-11 08:21 PM

DSL from Verizon here in SB might as well have dial-up, we were tricked into getting dsl/dtv bundle they said was new and faster and then it was so slow we changed back to cox and saved money. Better to get a BASIC from Cox if you can unless you want faster. I doulbt that dsl is all you can get in your area. Good luck!


 COMMENT 527475 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-12 11:21 AM

Wireless is your problem. It's a function of distance/speed, farther is slower. Especially if you have an older wireless router or internal network card. Just by upgrading your wireless access point to 802.11N you will see a nice increase in data rates (compared to 802.11B or G). Maybe invest in a long Ethernet cable or a wireless extender (the Netgear is excellent). Adding wireless N to the laptop helps too and those come in small USB plugs now but just upgrading the access point (which may be internal to your router or separate) makes a big difference. Even with my 3mb DSL I have 2 roommates over 40 ft away downstairs and once we went to 802.11N I never get complaints. Now if one of them is using Netflix or Youtube it does cause a lot of buffering issues during that time so we coordinate time-wise if I have something important (like streaming my own music during my DJing online).


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