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How Does Streaming Work?

Find out how on-demand music and video streaming services operate with this in-depth look from SmartMove.


Streaming movies, TV shows, music, and even video games has never been easier or more popular. Streaming services offer anyone with an Internet connection the ability to access their media, both from home and on-the-go.

Improvements in WiFi connectivity and network bandwidth have coincided with an explosion of streaming platforms and streaming content. More people than ever are streaming, but what does that really mean and how does it work?

What Is Streaming?

Streaming is the delivery of data, such as movies, TV, or music files, from the place where they are stored to a user’s device. It differs from downloading in that a streaming file is played as it is delivered, while a download is delivered to the end user’s device where it will be stored and played from that stored file.

With streaming, then, remote files are continuously transmitted over an Internet network so the end user can access the content without having to download it. While the delivery system and idea is the same across streaming platforms and Internet-connected devices, there are many factors that can influence the quality and speed of streaming media.

What Types of Streaming Services Are Offered?

Whether you’re into movies, TV, podcasts, radio, or live sports, there is a streaming service and/or platform made specifically for the type of content you enjoy, and they run the gamut when it comes to price, on-demand content, user experience, and more.

Here are some of the more popular streaming services available right now.

Streaming TV and Movies

A few of the most popular paid video streaming services include:

  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Disney Plus
  • HBO Max
  • Hulu
  • Netflix
  • YoutTube TV
  • Fubo TV
  • And more

There are also a growing number of free and legal streaming sites, including Peacock TV, the Roku Channel, and more.

Streaming Audio Content: Music, Podcasts, Etc.

Audio streaming services offer access to a wide variety of music, podcasts, books, news, and more.

Some well-known audio streaming apps include:

  • Spotify
  • Audible
  • Pandora
  • Amazon Music
  • Tidal
  • SoundCloud
  • PodBean
  • And more

What Devices Can Be Used to Stream?

Of course, a connected device is necessary if you’re going to stream anything, and there are a lot of them. You can use a specialized streaming box, a Smart TV, mobile devices, game consoles, and desktop and laptop computers.


What Factors Influence Streaming Speeds?

Streaming speeds are influenced by a number of things, including your Internet plan, location, the time of day you’re streaming, and even the type of Internet connection you use.

Generally speaking, to stream music or to stream HD video, you’ll need a high-speed Internet connection with a download speed of at least 25 Mbps. If your Internet plan includes Internet speeds of at least 25 Mbps, and you’re still struggling to stream video or music due to buffering, lost connection, or other problems, consider doing the following:

  • Conduct a SmartMove speed test to make sure your Internet plan’s advertised speeds are accurate.
  • Find out about your ISP’s throttling policy. High peak demand times can result in throttled Internet speeds. You may need to find another time of day to stream.
  • Pay attention to how many devices are connected at one time in your household. If you have a lot of devices using the WiFi simultaneously, you may need to upgrade your Internet plan.
  • Check your router. Not all routers are created equal, and the one you’re using may not be able to broadcast WiFi at the speed you’re paying for.

How Can I Improve Streaming Performance?

Streaming performance can suffer on both the network side and the end user side. The location you're streaming from and the amount of traffic congesting the network can contribute to latency issues and negatively affect streaming performance. To improve streaming performance, try the following:

Get What You Need to Stream with SmartMove

If you want to find the fastest, most reliable Internet for streaming or you just want to find the best price, SmartMove can help. We partner with Internet service providers in your area to make sure you get the Internet package you need, so everyone in your household can stream.

Find out more about high-speed Internet plans available to you today.

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