South Africa achieves highest-ever ranking on Netflix ISP Speed Index

Netflix has revealed its ISP Speed Index for March 2019, with South Africa achieving a rank of 49 out of 59 countries.

South Africa’s previous best was in the August 2018 index, when it placed 50th.

Internet service providers in South Africa achieved an average of 2.86Mbps, a slight improvement over the 2.80Mbps in the previous month.

This slight increase helped South Africa inch ahead of India, with which it was tied for 50th place last month.

It also helped South Africa get ahead of Ecuador, which had an average of 2.85Mbps. Turkey also improved in the period, leaping from 53rd place in February to 47th in March.

The table below shows an extract of the Netflix ISP Speed Index standings for March 2019.

Rank Country Top Speed – Mbps Low Speed – Mbps Average Speed – Mbps
41 South Korea 4.20 2.36 3.27
42 Colombia 3.40 2.27 3.13
43 Paraguay 3.35 1.26 3.08
44 Brazil 4.02 2.47 3.06
45 Saudi Arabia 3.49 2.94 3.04
46 Uruguay 3.01 3.01 3.01
47 Turkey 3.44 2.58 2.97
48 Bolivia 3.25 2.38 2.88
49 South Africa 3.97 1.87 2.86
50 Ecuador 3.64 1.78 2.85
51 India 3.57 1.76 2.84
52 Costa Rica 3.21 1.06 2.80

What the averages hide

While it is good to see South Africa climbing the Netflix ISP rankings, it is important to note what the index actually measures.

Netflix explains that its index is a measure of prime-time Netflix performance on ISPs and not a measure of the overall performance of an ISP’s network.

It calculates the average bitrate, in Mbps, of Netflix content streamed by members on a per-ISP basis.

For example: the minimum download speed required to use Netflix is 1.5Mbps – while 5Mbps is good enough for HD streaming.

When Netflix shows an average bitrate of around 5Mbps for an ISP, it could mean that most users on the network watch content in HD.

The maximum line speed a users takes up with their ISP is also a factor.

If you have a 4Mbps DSL connection, you will not be able to achieve a streaming bitrate much faster than 3.5Mbps, for example.

So an ISP with a lower average bitrate may have more Netflix subscribers who have signed up for cheaper, slower accounts than an ISP with an average above 4Mbps.

The Netflix index is therefore not strictly a ranking of which ISPs are faster and slower, but an average that encapsulates many factors.

South Africa’s top 10 ISPs on the Netflix ISP Speed Index are summarised in the table below.

March 2019
Rank ISP Speed – Mbps Previous Month – Mbps Change
1 Cool Ideas 3.97 3.98
2 Vox 3.69 3.64
3 Cell C 3.47 3.44
4 MTN 3.29 3.30 +1
5 Vodacom 3.27 3.31 -1
6 Afrihost 2.98 2.91
7 Cybersmart 2.65 2.68
8 MWEB 2.60 2.54
9 Telkom 2.60 2.50
10 Neotel 1.87 1.89

Now read: Netflix testing new “top 10 list” feature

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South Africa achieves highest-ever ranking on Netflix ISP Speed Index