TV streaming help/advice

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TV streaming help/advice

Postby snyder66 » Sat Mar 16, 2013 6:26 am

I have a roku box from which I stream Hulu Plus and several other free stations. Lately, I am having issues watching movies or shows. There is a delay in the playback, constant buffering. Is my internet too slow? Never had any issues before. Is there something else that I can do? I am almost convince that Comcast throttled down my internet after we switch to basic TV. I have no way of proving this, but it did start right after we cancelled. Thanks
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Re: TV streaming help/advice

Postby bUU » Sat Mar 16, 2013 7:30 am

It could be that your service isn't speedy enough, though most of those services are smart enough to seamlessly drop-down to lower resolution to account for the slower speed. I suppose what you're seeing could have something to do with your speed varying wildly, but I would also suspect that you're actually experiencing interruptions due to network congestion.

Comcast's Internet service is rated as peak speed. ("Up to 50 Mbps download speeds") The terms and conditions state explicitly, "Actual speeds vary and are not guaranteed." Bandwidth is a shared resource on the node (a node could have up to 3000 customers, I believe), so if a bunch of you are all streaming video at the same time, you're all going to experience slower service. Furthermore, Comcast's service includes a burst component, so while you're watching your video, if your neighbor comes along and starts downloading a big file, they're going to get the lion's share of the bandwidth for a little while. That's all part of the promises Comcast makes.

It shouldn't be surprising that they're designing their Internet service so that it doesn't reward customers for trying to replace their television service. But that's different from messing with your service because you switched down to basic television service. They just simply don't do that. There's really no reason to, given that simply through offering the burst service and through the excessive use provisions and such, they're already doing all they need to in that regard. (Also remember, right after you canceled the higher tiers of television service is when you started relying more heavily on your streaming service.)

However, if you're really concerned, boot up your computer on a Saturday mid-morning, on a warm day with bright sunshine; i.e., a time when you're very unlikely to be colliding with your neighbors. Visit http://speedtest.net and do the test. You should see yourself getting decent download and upload number (though not necessarily the burst speed - maybe you already got your burst?)

If you're not getting decent speed, even with no competition on the pipe, then you're still not done testing. Think about what's between your computer and the spot where Comcast service enters your home. Comcast does not support your LAN, unless you pay them extra for it. And even then there are things that are your responsibility not theirs. So to really test your connection, you need to connect the computer you're testing with directly to the cable modem with a wire - no router, no wireless. If after all that, the Speed Test is still giving you bad numbers, you've got good data to start taking the issue to Comcast to get a resolution.

Good luck!
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Re: TV streaming help/advice

Postby slheinlein » Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:27 am

snyder66 wrote:I have a roku box from which I stream Hulu Plus and several other free stations. Lately, I am having issues watching movies or shows. There is a delay in the playback, constant buffering. Is my internet too slow? Never had any issues before. Is there something else that I can do? I am almost convince that Comcast throttled down my internet after we switch to basic TV. I have no way of proving this, but it did start right after we cancelled. Thanks


Try powering off the modem and restarting. Sometimes the modem just needs to be reset. Also, do the same with your router if you have one. What time are you watching Hulu Plus? Try watching at a non-peak time, such as now on Saturday morning. If you still have problems, there might be something going on within your section of the network. If not, Comcast needs to address bandwidth at peak times. I would be surprised if Comcast throttled down your bandwidth because you changed your TV package. I only have Internet service (no TV) and they just throttled up my bandwidth for no reason, this seems to be more of the norm as they compete with Fios/U-verse, etc. You should also be able to login to your account and see what bandwidth they are providing to you. If restarting doesn't help and you continue to have problems, contact Comcast and they can run some diagnostics on your modem.
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Re: TV streaming help/advice

Postby Rob5TCP » Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:27 am

NetFlix allow for slower speeds. Drop the quality of your service for a test movie.
Also, as suggested above pick a weird time (2-4 in the morning - assuming you can be awake - or record it).
See what your speeds are in off hours and then try to run a movie.
I have occasional buffer problems with my computer and Netflix - but it's much better
than it was (from every 3-5 minutes, to once every couple of movies).
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Re: TV streaming help/advice

Postby kitteh » Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:36 am

Just a data point:

I have Cox Internet and no television service. Watching hulu works fine for me, so does Amazon instant video and the occasional website like PBS. Netflix streaming video has never worked well and finally I gave up and cancelled it. Netflix audio and video get out of sync, video stutters, etc. When I phoned Netflix about this a few years ago, the phone person told me that they do not buffer on the user's system. Whether that is true or not, I don't know.

A few months ago I took a look at the supposed speeds for Cox Internet options. There are three, I forget their actual names, call them Slow, Better, Best. Even though I was forking out for Better, a website (speedtest?) measuring the actual speed was reporting the speeds for about Slow. So I changed to that to pay less. I saw no difference in functioning. (I got no partial refund, either :-)

Cox told me the slower speed was because I had an ancient modem (again, who knows if that's true). Since everything except Netflix was functioning, I saw no reason to replace the modem.
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Re: TV streaming help/advice

Postby Hexdump » Sat Mar 16, 2013 10:28 am

I have ROKU hooked to ATT Uverse and it also varies though seems to eventually settle down.

Is your ROKU connected via wired or wireless ?
I think there is an option in the ROKU box to test what speed you are getting. So, poke around in the menus and see if you can find it.

I also, periodically power the ATT router, off and back on after about 15 secs, . It seems to help but the slow speed is also noticeable when internet browsing.

This is another speed test site I use.
http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/

good luck
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Re: TV streaming help/advice

Postby Mudpuppy » Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:34 pm

On top of the other suggestions, go to your modem status page (probably located at 192.168.100.1) and see what the signal levels are. Monitor the signal levels over time. If you see a Transmit level above about 55DbmV and a Receive level outside of -6dBmV to +6dBmV, then you might be having a poor signal issue. This could be due to excessive coax splitters (it's best to put the cable modem on the first splitter), a splitter going bad, a coax cable with deteriorating insulation in your house, or a similar issue with the coax cable outside of your house. The modem will try to compensate for bad line quality, but these compensations will lower throughput and there's only so much it can do.

Also, Comcast may have installed a signal filter on your line if you dropped all cable TV, which tries to filter out the bandwidth associated with analog cable TV (about 50-500MHz). These filters can go bad and start interfering with signals on other bandwidths. The upload band for cable modems is particularly close to this range. If the filter is going bad, there's not much you can do about it. Comcast has to be convinced its their issue and come out and replace it.

On the software side of things, you might also just have the misfortune of being near an overused node of Hulu's network. They do try to distribute the demands so that no one server farm is overloaded, but it still happens on occasion. As I recall from the last time I looked into this, the distribution for Hulu is regional (e.g. based off where you live). You should ask around to your friends and coworkers who are also in your area to see if they have been experiencing issues with Hulu. The timing could have been coincidental.
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Re: TV streaming help/advice

Postby retiredjg » Sat Mar 16, 2013 4:17 pm

Since you no longer have your old TV channels, is it possible that others in your home are also streaming stuff at the same time more often than in the past? I'm no techie, just guessing.
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Re: TV streaming help/advice

Postby Hexdump » Sat Mar 16, 2013 4:20 pm

retiredjg wrote:Since you no longer have your old TV channels, is it possible that others in your home are also streaming stuff at the same time more often than in the past? I'm no techie, just guessing.


Good point. My wife periodocally streams Korean video and it plays heck with my speed.
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Re: TV streaming help/advice

Postby OAG » Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:15 pm

Go to Speedtest.net and see if you are getting the speed you are paying for. I just did and I am getting very close to what I am paying for and I have a Roku 3 running along with this notebook computer both of which are Wi-Fi (as opposed to hard wired). I am on Time Warner with Internet Service only (no TV of any kind and no Phone Service just Internet via Road Runner). My DW runs Netflix about 9 hours a day almost every day (even longer on the weekends), I am almost always on some sort of Computer (Notebook, Desktop or Apple IPAD) in the house on the Internet and last night we were both watching Netflix on TWO different TV's and watching different movies. There was no problems whatsoever and we have been doing this stuff for about 3 months now. I do have 20 Mpbs down and 2 Mpbs up service. BTW all my ROKU's (we have 3 of them) connect via Wi-Fi as is everything else except the Desktop which is Ethernet Hard Wired.
OAG=Old Army Guy. Retired CW4 USA (US Army) in 1979.
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Re: TV streaming help/advice

Postby scouter » Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:05 pm

Here's a low tech trick that can help. Once a month or so, our Roku will stop to buffer every few minutes on a streaming movie, I assume due to congestion. (Although I've checked our internet speed at these times and it's where it's supposed to be, which is 12 mBits.)

So once the buffering stops and the film restarts, hit pause and go make some popcorn, pour a beer, make a phone call, etc. Just give it a chance to get way ahead in it's buffering. Then when you re-start the movie, you shouldn't have any more interruptions. It's a pain to delay the start of your movie, but that's preferable to the constant buffering interruptions.
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