Why does my streaming video buffer?

Episode 1050 (2:19:18)

John from Kendrick, WA

John says that when he watches video online, it buffers and the quality devolves a lot. Leo says it's amazing how we expect streaming video to have the quality of television now. And often it is. But data doesn't arrive in order and on time like a broadcast signal is. It's transmitted in packets and sometimes those packets arrive out of order, and has to wait for the missing packets to be received in order to play them back. If it doesn't arrive, then it stutters to the next available packet. The computer John is using may not be fast enough, though. Most of the time, it's the internet service provider that would be holding him back. If he doesn't want buffering, he should try choosing a lower resolution.