What is buffering?

Buffering is when TFCko fails to cache the data (show you are watching) fast enough before playing the show to the TV with pictures and sounds which cause the show to stop or freeze. Buffering can be a very frustrating experience for the viewer because the show being showed continues pause and elongates time to watch movies.

What causes buffering?

ABS-CBN, the TFCko provider, has it figured out to one problem and has this disclaimer on their website under requirement for subscription: "While we try to ensure uninterupted TFCko service to all our customers, video buffering may be experienced depending on your broadband provider's network especially during peak hours when the high volume of users often results in slower internet connection."

As they have pointed out it is caused by "SLOW" internet connection. This is actually the culprit because the minimum requirement is 1 Mbps internet download speed but actually in my experience 2 Mbps is actually needed to have a really descent experience.  It has better picture and sound quality with higher internet speed. Also, upload speed is sometimes neglected that needs a minimum requirement.  TFCko needs a contant communication to TFCko server so therefore a speed of 256 Kbps upload speed could be minimum speed otherwise even if you have an excellent download speed, buffering  can still occur.  384 Kbps or higher upload speed is ideal.

Many household nowadays has a home network and internet is being used in many ways. TFC viewing is one of them.Other usage for internet are internet phone or VOIP, chats, dowloads, watching online movies, listening to online radio and of course web surfing.  Most of these are normal internet activities but a lot of internet activities can start to affect the TFCko's bandwidth requirement thus buffering occur.  So, having a descent internet speed above the minimum requirement is therefore required.

Rogers and Shaw or any internet cable advertise that they have the fastest internet.  In reality they may be faster than DSL (highspeed internet over the phone line) but the problem with them is that when there are many users (during peak hours) are on the same network or line the internet speed degrades because it is being "shared" and therefore leads to buffering as well. DSL in the meanwhile is better suited for TFCko. One almost has the whole line by himself. However, the farther a home from the Central Office (CO), the speed gets slower and suffers. As Bell and other DSL providers carefully word normally their ads "up to 5 Mbps" because of such limitation and therefore
buffering could occur but in my personal experience. It is still better than internet cable.

Here are a list of other reasons that could cause buffering:

  • Online Backup programs - when it is running, it takes most of the upload speed
  • P2P sharing and downloading because it takes a lot download and upload speed as well
  • Heavy downloads from several computers at the same time on the home network
  • Multiple IPTVs (TFCko or IPQube) on the home  (3 IPTV for a home is still good) running at the same time
  • Several VOIP telephones on use at the same time; since VOIP traffic usually get priority (QoS) over IPTV
  • Old routers or bad routers which sends a lot of malformed internet traffic
  • Wireless signal is weak (when Wireless capabilities is used)
  • Too many viewers are watching the same shows.Eeventhough ABS-CBN claims they have the bandwidth or the fastest server, it can only take so much users at a given time especially they are serving Europe, Asia and North America. Performance of the server or internet connection of the server would eventually degrade and therefore buffering.

Some solutions:

  • Definitely faster internet service.  I researched and found one internet provider that suites my TFCko requirements plus my business need. I partnered with the company to provide DSL unlimited internet service.  I can say that it is designed for TFCko users like myself.  My whole family watches at least 8 hours of TFC shows each day.  So, just imagine how much extra charges I could incurr if I am with Rogers or Bell with 30G download limit. If interested Check my internet page.
  • Upgrading Routers
  • A smart electronics person said to me that if ABS-CBN would just increase the video buffer, it may help greatly.  I think it could be a solution but someone needs to re-engineer or redisign the box. I do not think ABS-CBN would do such thing because they already heavily invested on this device. I hope I am wrong.  Someone would need to tweak the box but remember - you lose your 1 year warranty if you open the box.  I do not recommend it.
  • Watch in the early morning or lunch time (off-peak hours)
If you have any suggestion or comments, please feel free to give feedback.