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Is Australia's broadband ready for Netflix?

So Netflix has taken the plunge and named the date, but come March 2015 will the service find a suitable broadband infrastructure to work with?


It's official: not unlike winter, the iceman and something wicked, Netflix is coming. The company has named March 2015 for its formal debut on Australian screens -- rather than the 'backdoor shenanigans' it has been accused of currently indulging in previously.

While we're still waiting to see what sort of pricing and catalogue the service will launch with -- and what that will mean to services such as Foxtel and Quickflix -- Netflix has said that it will offer 4K content "where available".

Which raises the question of where in Australia could possibly be ready for 4K streaming. According to Netflix' own help centre, the recommended bandwidth speed for 4K programs is 25Mbps.

In Akamai's most recent State of the Internet report, only 15 percent of Australians get broadband speeds of 10Mbps or above. In fact, only 6.7 percent get above 15Mbps, which is what Akamai considers "4K ready". Luckily the NBN recently upped its own speed commitment to 50 Mbps for 90 percent of premises "as soon as possible".

In regards to HD file streaming, Netflix suggests 5Mbps speeds. Again according to Akamai, 65 percent of Aussie households get 4Mbps or above, suggesting that there's a fair proportion of people who might have difficulty meeting the requirements.

There are, of course, plenty of people already using Netflix presumably without too many complaints -- 27 percent of all Australians with a media subscription are accessing it via a VPN according to stats from the Department of Communications.

But it's big step going from a smaller subset of tech-savvy people to a wider, more mainstream audience. With the challenge already for on for Netflix in terms of its local subscription costs and content offering, we'll be very interested to see its suggested network requirements ahead of launch.