ShowMax

Which internet package is best for streaming video?

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Now that online video on demand services like ShowMax are common in South Africa, one question has stood out among reader queries over many others.

“Is my internet connection good enough for ShowMax,” people ask, or “I’m looking at this connection, will I be able to stream ShowMax?”

In order to help answer these questions and more, we’ve put together this handy guide aims to show you which connections are well-suited to streaming ShowMax’s content, as well as how much you will be expected to pay for each.

When comparing the prices, there’s one important thing to bear in mind. If you sign up for one of Telkom’s Summer Unlimited packages, which are available for both ADSL and LTE right now, you won’t pay a penny for any data used by ShowMax’s video. All your streaming is free!

Find out more about the Telkom & ShowMax promotion to provide users with zero-rated data for streaming content by clicking here.

ADSL

ADSL is by far the common internet connection for fixed lie internet services. The important thing, however, is that not all ADSL is created equal.

ShowMax will stream over a 2Mbps ADSL connection, although a 4Mbps one (at least) is recommended for HD quality.

There is a further catch, though: many “unlimited” ADSL connections throttle connection speed at certain times of the day or will see you competing for bandwidth with lots of other users (this is called a “contention ratio). While this may not be a problem, capped ADSL services often offer better quality connections which are more reliable. And that’s more important than speed for ShowMax. 100GB is a good amount to start with for watching online video, extreme TV addicts may need to double that.

Here’s an example of what we mean.

4mbps ADSL Circuit from Cybersmart R248pm
Telephone line from Telkom R133pm
100GB of Fat Pipe capped data from Vox Telecom R249pm

Total Cost R630/month

VDSL

If you’re planning on setting up your home entertainment so that several people can watch ShowMax on multiple devices around the home, you’ll need to double or treble your incoming bandwidth. A standard ADSL connection in South Africa can provide up to 10Mbps of bandwidth depending on where you are and how much you pay. In areas that have been fully upgraded with fibre optic lines to the street cabinets, though, you may find you’re eligible for 20Mbps or 40Mbps VDSL services.

VDSL set-up and use is exactly the same as ADSL – it comes over standard telephone cables into your house. It’s a good guarantee of better connectivity, but you will pay extra.

Here’s an example.

40mbps VDSL Elite from Telkom R599pm x 24 months
Telephone line from Telkom R189pm
100GB of Fat Pipe capped data from Vox Telecom R249pm

Total Cost R1 037/month

Fibre to the home (FTTH)

The fastest growing type of connectivity is Fibre to the Home (FTTH). This means you’re connected all the way from your front door to the heart of the internet with superfast fibre optic cabling that is capable of speeds up to 1000Mbps. It’s only available in certain areas, but where it is available it’s by far the best connection and very affordable when compared to ADSL too.

Any FTTH connection, and packages range from 5Mbps to 1000Mbps, will be suitable for ShowMax services and it shouldn’t make a difference whether or not you’re on a capped or uncapped service.

As with VDSL, the faster your package the more simultaneous streams you should be able to play and the more you can do in the background online too. In terms of overall bandwidth quality, though, a slower fibre connection is better and – generally – more reliable than a faster ADSL one.

Because the content is hosted locally, you don’t need to worry if FTTH services only offer slower speeds to international servers. You should get the best speed possible.

Example pricing:

50Mbps download, 5Mbps upload fibre connection, free connection and uncapped data from SubXero Cool Internet R999/month

4G/LTE

While ShowMax will play over wireless broadband, we wouldn’t recommend it on most mobile contracts. Data charges are high in South Africa, and you’ll soon hit your monthly cap.

There is one exception, however, and that’s Telkom’s current LTE and LTE-Advanced promotions. It’s the only service provider to offer truly unlimited connectivity over the wireless network and with speeds of up to 150Mbps on LTE-A it’s excellent quality too.

The only downside is that it only works with a router and not with a mobile phone, so you’ll only be able to watch at home.

What’s more, if you live in an area with coverage, Telkom’s unlimited 4G/LTE service is just R599 with a promise not to throttle streaming video.

Public WiFi

ShowMax and streaming video should work fine over public WiFi (which includes any WiFi hotspots – for example in a hotel). Like 4G/LTE, however, the drawback is that if your access is capped you will hit the limit for daily use pretty quickly.

A typical episode of a US comedy, for example, will use about 250MB of data, which is your entire allowance for a day on most WiFi networks.

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