Netflix experience on Ka-Band VSAT in Kenya
Yesterday I, like most people here; woke up to the news that the American multinational provider of on-demand Internet streaming media; Netflix, has expanded into several countries including Kenya. Social media reaction in my view was a tie between those who think these new comers will ‘disrupt’ the market currently dominated by Multichoice’s DStv. The jury on what exactly is the meaning of disruption as applied in that discussion, is however still out.
My views on their foray into Kenya aside, I decided to test the service on my home VSAT link. This was after I read on how it works just in case I had made any assumptions that were wrong. Here, I found out that the minimum recommended bandwidth is 3 Mbps for SD quality video and 5 Mbps for HD quality video.
The particulars of the link are as follows:
* Ka-band service off the Avanti Hylas-2 satellite at 31 degrees East (somewhere above Uganda)
With the VSAT kit I achieved a strong enough signal to enable a DVB-S2 carrier at 8-PSK 8/9 on the down link and do a TDMA/FDMA carrier of 2048 Ksps at QPSK 4/5 on return w.r.t the remote terminal
I registered an account and selected a 58 minute SD quality documentary titled “Rise of the drones” and proceeded to view it. Its took about 3 seconds to open the stream and the streaming started.
The picture quality was as expected for an SD video on my old laptop, I however could not identify how to check this video’s resolution on the stream.
I watched it to the end without a single “Netflix and Chill as it buffers” moment and the stream download rate indicator was about 5 minutes ahead of the play indicator throughout the time.
The VSAT links Cacti graph for the 58 minute session showed that the stream consumed an average of just below 3 Mbps with a peak of 3.7 Mbps. During this time the total downloaded data was 1.3 GB by calculating the area under the graph.
The above results means that in a multi-viewer scenario where more than one person is using Netflix on the LAN , the VSAT’s 15 Mbps capacity can support 4 concurrent viewers without a problem and will be limited only by the WiFi routers’ capability.
Update: I did Netflix for the entire day on Saturday 9th (via a HDMI stream dongle on TV) with my kids in the usual TV schedule as we do on DSTv (punctuated with sessions of outside play, reading/study, quiet times and no TV during meals). We had consumed 19.4 GB by the time we went to sleep.