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Is Australia ready for streaming-video services?

In a mostly pre-NBN Australia, is our broadband infrastructure truly capable of supporting high-quality video streaming?

Commentary In a mostly pre-National Broadband Network (NBN) Australia, is our broadband infrastructure truly capable of supporting high-quality video streaming?

Xbox Live's Zune service is just one HD streaming option. (Credit: Xbox/Microsoft)

An interesting report from the US surfaced in my inbox this morning: the "Wistia HD Data Report". Wistia is a US-based video-hosting service, so keep in mind that it's not what one would call an impartial observer here.

The report detailed the results of an analysis that Wistia performed on the views of its hosted videos. It found that 17.9 per cent of views aren't capable of streaming a video in full HD, as defined by a connection speed of 2Mbps or less. Worse, just under 10 per cent of views are actually streamed at under 1Mbps.

It's worth noting, too, that Wistia defines connection speed rather thoroughly:

Connection speed, in this context, represents the amount of bandwidth a user has available at the moment the video is being viewed. Instantaneous connection speeds can be affected by a myriad of factors, including the inherent speed of the connection, fluctuations in those connection speeds caused by upstream loading, local sharing of internet connections by many individuals or throttling of connection speed, to name just a few.

The Wistia report is interesting when taken in context with the Akamai "State of the Internet" report from Q1 2012.

According to Akamai, the US is number 12 in the world for average broadband speeds, at 6.7Mbps. (The number one slot remains with South Korea, with an awe-inspiring 15.7Mbps). Australia, which has lost ground since Q4 2011, has an average speed of just 3.5Mbps.

In terms of broadband adoption, which is defined by Akamai as a connection with greater than 4Mbps speed, Australia has 57.5 per cent of the population covered, while the US manages 82.8 per cent.

What this essentially boils down to is that the US currently has better broadband coverage, and a considerably faster average speed that than Australia, yet nearly 20 per cent of video-streaming connections are too slow for HD quality.

So what hope do Australians have for ensuring that they're getting quality streaming video as part of their home entertainment?

It seems that in the wake of Hoyts' announcement that it will be joining the ranks of video streamers, Quickflix signing a number of new content deals and a host of other HD video services, Australia is being presented with more and more video-on-demand options. Yet, when we look at our broadband connections, it appears that few of us are ready to stop buying and renting physical media just yet.

Are you happy with the quality of the video-streaming service you use? Let us know in the comments below.