The Bandwidth Required for a Skype HD Video Call

Make sure your internet is fast enough before you place the call

If you want to make Skype HD (high-definition) video calls, you need a good HD webcam, a powerful enough computer, and sufficient bandwidth—meaning an internet connection speedy enough to carry the bulk of video frames in high quality. In this guide, we go over how much bandwidth you need and how to achieve the best call quality.

Pet owner showing off a new puppy over Skype on computer
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Why Bandwidth Matters

High Definition video consumes a great deal of data. The video is a stream of images in high quality that brush past your eyes on the screen at a rate of at least 30 images (technically called frames) per second. There is normally some (or a lot of) compression taking place, which decreases the data consumption and prevents lagging, but if you want high definition video, compression backs out.

Skype is one of the VoIP apps that has high video quality. Skype uses special codecs and other technologies to deliver crisp images and high-quality video, but this comes at a cost.

If you're signed in to Skype but not making calls, the app uses, on average, between 0 to 4 kbps (kilobits per second). When you make a call, Skype uses, on average, between 24 and 128 kbps.

Therefore, even if you have all the necessary equipment for HD video calling with Skype but don't have enough bandwidth, you'll never get clear, crisp, and bright HD video quality. You might even fail at having a decent conversation. Frames will be lost, and the audio—which is more important than the visuals in a conversation—may suffer as well. Some people choose to disable their webcams and sacrifice the video for the sake of a clean conversation. 

How Much Bandwidth Is Sufficient?

So, how much bandwidth is enough? For simple video calling, Skype recommends 300 kbps (kilobits per second). It says you need 500 kbps if you want that call in high quality. For HD video, you need at least 1.2 Mbps (Megabits per second). You're sure to have good quality with 1.5 Mbps. That's for a one-to-one conversation.

If there are more participants, add another 1 Mbps per person for comfortable video conferencing. For example, for a group video call with 7 or 8 people, 8 Mbps should be sufficient for HD video quality.

Tips for Better Skype HD Video Calls

If you have trouble making Skype HD video calls, Skype recommends closing other applications that use the internet, especially video and music streaming services like Netflix and Spotify. Also, pause or cancel any file transfers in progress.

You can also test your internet speed to make sure you're getting the bandwidth you're paying for; if you're not, contact your internet service provider.

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