Your Digital Media Has Never Looked So Good

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Roku Engineering
Topic Author
Posts: 1758
Joined: Mon May 19, 2008 5:52 pm
Location: Roku HQ

Are you experiencing loss of video quality? PLEASE READ

Thu Nov 13, 2008 4:30 pm

Roku is aware that there are a number of users who have recently been experiencing inexplicable loss of video streaming quality, often going from a consistent 4 dots down to 1 dot quality. In an effort to try to gather as much data on this issue as possible for Roku and Netflix to analyze the situation and ultimately resolve it, we would like to request some information from anyone who is currently experiencing this problem. If you used to consistently get 3 or 4 dots of quality when streaming movies, and are now only able to get the 1 dot quality stream, we would like to know some particulars about your network environment. The info we need will only be used to analyze this particular issue and nothing else. The information we need includes:

1. Your geographic location (city/town and state is adequate)
2. Your ISP (internet service provider)
3. Type of service (DSL, cable, etc.)
4. Maximum speed of your service - if you are not sure, it is probably documented on your ISP bill or you can get a rough measurement at or any number of on-line speed test websites)
5. Your Roku Player serial number (ESN) - found in the settings under 'player info'.
6. Approximately when you began encountering this issue
7. If you tried to force the stream speed via the "secret" screen, did it improve things or did it make it worse? For example, were you able to get 3 or 4 dot of quality consistently again? Did it result in frequent rebuffering?
8. Any additional details on the nature of the problem you are experiencing, such as the presence and frequency of rebuffering, that will be helpful

If you are comfortable posting this information please reply in this thread, or send it to me, RokuJamesL, by PM. We ask that this thread be only used for posting the requested information. Further discussion about the issue can be posted in the various other threads that have already been created for this.

Finally, we want our customers to know that resolving this issue is a high priority and we will do everything we can to resolve it as quickly as possible. Thanks for your cooperation and patience as we work through this issue.

The Roku Team

Hi folks. I think enough people have posted their info here to provide ample data points for Netflix, so there is no need for any further posts of info. Thanks to everyone who did take the time to provide your data and a special thanks to Rich for putting together the spreadsheet of data points. Hopefully, it will be sufficient to determine what is causing this issue. Netflix has not provided any updates on their end yet. Meanwhile we are taking another look at our software code to see if there is anything on our end that can help. Unfortunately, we don't have anything more definite to report but as soon as we have any updated information, we will post it.

If there is anyone in the San Francisco Bay Area who is experiencing this issue, and is willing to let one of our engineers visit your home to analyze your broadband connection, please send a PM. It would be a big help in furthering the efforts to find a solution.
Last edited by RokuJamesL on Sun Nov 30, 2008 10:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Posts: 854
Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2008 10:02 pm

Thu Nov 13, 2008 5:41 pm

I've had excellent service, but in the last couple of weeks, especially on the weekends, and in some evenings, the quality decreased down to 1 or 2 dots.

I applied the "secret" force stream speed, and resolved the problem, though with long beginning buffering times. However, beginning this weekend, the shows would buffer, frequently, as they played. I finally quit trying to watch one show, only to have the same problems with another, but finally, no problems with the third. However, even with the force option, I only got 3 dots with the newest Numb3s episode.

I live in St. Louis, Missouri. I, unfortunately, have ATT DSL, the elite option with 6Mbps. In all my tests, I achieve pretty close to that speed--all the better to hit broadband caps with.

My serial number is 20F87H018530.

I have two players, but they're rarely both in operation at the same time. When they are in operation at the same time (one was a gift to my roommate), once I did the force stream, I had good quality with both--again, until the last few weeks, but especially this last weekend.

I just tried a CSI show, and got 4 dots. But the Numb3rs latest episode only shows as 3 dot -- even with the force stream.

Hope this helps.
Posts: 85
Joined: Sun Jul 13, 2008 1:56 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Thu Nov 13, 2008 6:10 pm

I will be glad to reply:

1. 10 miles from St. Louis, MO
2. Charter Communications
3. Cable
4. 10Mbps
5. 20F867006943
6. Several days, maybe a week or so
7. Very slow loading times and very frequent rebuffering
8. I have turned on playback debugging, and it seems that the only time the Roku identifies me as having anywhere near my speed is after a power cycle. Other times, I get 1 or 2 dots, usually 1, and it says I have a 2.1 or worse speed connection.

This is all after consistent, reliable perpetual 4 dot connections ever since I have owned the Roku, until just the last few days.

When I first bought the Roku, I only had a 5 Mbps connection and last month, I upgraded it to a 10 Mbps connection. After that, my inital buffering was like 10 to 15 seconds on everything I watched.

Then, just the other day and ever since, it just crashed to 1 dot.
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2008 7:40 pm

Thu Nov 13, 2008 7:58 pm

1. Ithaca, NY 14850
2. Time Warner Cable
3. Cable
4. Download Speed: 8710 kbps (1088.8 KB/sec transfer rate)
Upload Speed: 979 kbps (122.4 KB/sec transfer rate)
5. 20F877030287
6. Nov. 13 2008 ~9PM EST
7. i did not force buffer at all.
8. pausing movie did not help, nor did restarting movie. i did power cycle and have (at time of post) no more problems -roughly 20 minutes of 4 dot playing. -it is now 9.58 EST.


EDIT: just about 10 min after posting , it rebuffed to 2 dots.
don't forget to smile.
Posts: 263
Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2004 7:48 pm

Thu Nov 13, 2008 8:12 pm

Austin, TX
TWC Business
6790kbps measured on Speakeasy
Problems started about 2 weeks ago
Forced high speed and it works fine, but start up is very slow
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2008 7:00 pm

Slow in St. Charles, MO

Thu Nov 13, 2008 8:24 pm

Thanks for taking this on. I am reporting this problem both to you and to Charter.

Like so many other people, we have consistently had 4 dot playback ever since getting our player last summer. The problems began within the last few weeks, though I don't have a specific date for you. Here are the answers you requested:

1) St. Charles, MO (suburb of St. Louis)

2) Charter

3) Cable 10M down / 1M up, business service

4) We normally get our full 10M/1M but after "watching" a Netflix show for a few minutes, we are only getting about 950K down. The upload speed is actually faster than the download speed right now!

5) 20F856004479

6) The problem started a few weeks ago

7) Did not try

8) I enabled the debug mode and jumped into the middle of an episode of Dr. Who. The first pop-up told me that I would get a 2.2M stream on a 6.1M connection. I let it play for a couple of minutes and then rewound do a different part of the show. This time the pop-up told me that it could not play a 1M stream on a 0.9M connection. I let it play for a couple of minutes, again, and rewound, again. This time the pop-up told me that I had a 1.5M connection.

We now seem "doomed" to horrific download speeds. I also logged a trouble ticked with Charter and they will send someone out.

-- Art Z.
User avatar
Roku Engineering
Topic Author
Posts: 1758
Joined: Mon May 19, 2008 5:52 pm
Location: Roku HQ

Fri Nov 14, 2008 12:19 pm

Thanks to those who have posted or PM'd their answers. Some very interesting data. I've taken down 8 users replies so far and 3 out of 8 are in the St. Louis, Missouri area. Hard to say if there is a relevant trend though since the sample size is very small.

In any case, this thread is very important to Roku and Netflix in helping track down this issue so I want to reiterate to anyone reading but not replied yet that we would really appreciate anyone having this issue add their information to this thread or send it to me via PM. The more responses we get the greater the chances that this problem can be fixed soon.

Keep it going!
John R
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2008 4:50 am
Location: East Tennessee

Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:38 pm

As requested, here are some datum.

1. Maryville, Tennessee
2. AT&T
3. DSL Elite (6Mbps)
4. 6Mbps (confirmed higher before each of the results below)
5. 20F8750344229
6. November 4th 2008 (day after it arrived)
7. Have forced 3 and 4 dot quality, both required long start-up times and 4 dot required rebuffering every 10-15 minutes.
8. Using playback debugging I'm usually told must do 2.2 on 2.6 (or lower) even though independent testing shows 6Mbps at the time. Now starting to see strange stuff like can't do 1.6 on 1.2 network because 0 minutes into ... need 0 bytes. ??????

Below are the results of a Neflix speed test:

Extensive Bandwidth Testing

This test may take a minute or two. Please minimize network usage during the test

Tests complete. Please cut and paste these results into an email

Test 1 Results
135k - 1052ms - 1027 kBps (fb: 362ms)
270k - 1774ms - 1218 kBps (fb: 266ms)
540k - 2486ms - 1738 kBps (fb: 275ms)
675k - 2282ms - 2366 kBps (fb: 720ms)
810k - 2870ms - 2258 kBps (fb: 324ms)
945k - 2685ms - 2816 kBps (fb: 283ms)
1080k - 1481ms - 5834 kBps (fb: 436ms)
2025k - 5494ms - 2949 kBps (fb: 282ms)
Test 2 Results
135k - 1049ms - 1030 kBps (fb: 336ms)
270k - 1699ms - 1271 kBps (fb: 323ms)
540k - 2593ms - 1666 kBps (fb: 257ms)
675k - 2690ms - 2007 kBps (fb: 253ms)
810k - 2847ms - 2276 kBps (fb: 271ms)
945k - 3438ms - 2199 kBps (fb: 333ms)
1080k - 3356ms - 2574 kBps (fb: 465ms)
2025k - 4697ms - 3449 kBps (fb: 288ms)
Test 3 Results
135k - 525ms - 2057 kBps (fb: 195ms)
270k - 1712ms - 1262 kBps (fb: 328ms)
540k - 2412ms - 1791 kBps (fb: 324ms)
675k - 2710ms - 1993 kBps (fb: 255ms)
810k - 3663ms - 1769 kBps (fb: 293ms)
945k - 3128ms - 2417 kBps (fb: 264ms)
1080k - 3933ms - 2197 kBps (fb: 248ms)
2025k - 4905ms - 3303 kBps (fb: 247ms)
Test 4 Results
135k - 1058ms - 1021 kBps (fb: 280ms)
270k - 639ms - 3380 kBps (fb: 292ms)
540k - 1606ms - 2690 kBps (fb: 250ms)
675k - 2536ms - 2129 kBps (fb: 362ms)
810k - 2865ms - 2262 kBps (fb: 263ms)
945k - 4877ms - 1550 kBps (fb: 247ms)
1080k - 2627ms - 3289 kBps (fb: 579ms)
2025k - 4714ms - 3437 kBps (fb: 334ms)

Below are the results of a tracert:

Tracing route to [] over a maximum of 30 hops:
1 1 ms 1 ms 1 ms
2 11 ms * 10 ms
3 10 ms 10 ms 11 ms
4 * * * Request timed out.
5 15 ms 15 ms 14 ms []
6 17 ms 18 ms 17 ms
7 18 ms 18 ms 18 ms []
8 18 ms 18 ms 17 ms
9 44 ms 44 ms 43 ms
10 59 ms 59 ms 59 ms []
11 42 ms 41 ms 42 ms []
12 41 ms 40 ms 41 ms []
13 59 ms 59 ms 61 ms
14 41 ms 42 ms 64 ms []
15 63 ms 63 ms 63 ms []
16 74 ms 74 ms 74 ms POS6-0.GW5.IAD8.ALTER.NET []
17 62 ms 62 ms 61 ms
18 76 ms 75 ms 76 ms []
Trace complete.

Hope this helps.

John R
proud member of PASTA
(People Against STupid Acronyms)
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Sep 25, 2008 6:35 am
Location: Kentucky

Are you losing video quality?

Fri Nov 14, 2008 2:34 pm

1. Location: Bowling Green, Kentucky
2. ISP is Insight Communications
3. Cable modem service
4. 10 megabit service on paper but I usually get 2.5 meg or so.
5. don't know my Roku Serial Number = I'm at work!
6. Problem began a few weeks ago- I, too, think is was about the time that the "STARZ" movies went online with Netflix.
7. Have not tried anything special to resolve this issue.
8. Here are my symptoms: the problem occurs mainly in the evenings and on weekends. Typically, the movie starts and after a few minutes it starts re-buffering. Sometimes it's able to complete the buffer, but many times it can't seem to re-buffer so the box just goes into a complete re-boot or startup. Once I get back to the que, I reload the movie and resume play. It plays for a few minutes, then goes through the same process again. This repeats itself over and over and over. Don't seem to have the problem during daytime hours.
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2008 7:00 pm

St. Charles, MO -- Charter's Response

Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:16 pm


Charter owned up to a "head end" problem here in St. Charles county, Missouri, last night. I followed up with the technician this afternoon and he said that we were one of five reports of the identical problem here in St. Charles county.

I will continue to investigate and will keep reporting here. Feel free to contact me privately if you need additional information or if you want ssh or vnc access to a box on our network.

-- Art Z.
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2005 10:35 am

Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:26 pm

1. Ithaca, NY 14850
2. Time Warner Cable Business Class
3. Cable (Fixed IP)
4. Download Speed: 3Mbs
Upload Speed: 768 kbps
5. 20F8770 14268
6. Started week of Nov. 10 2008 , very bad last night Nov 13th ~9PM EST
7. I've set it and will report back.
8. initially we see 4 dots, very slow buffering, show starts, then it buffers again but at one dot. Try other shows, and sometimes it starts with two dots, plays, then stops to rebuffer and is back to one dot.

Ping stats
tbalon@ubuntu:~$ ping -q -c 10
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
--- ping statistics ---
10 packets transmitted, 10 received, 0% packet loss, time 8995ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 94.321/96.133/98.205/1.311 ms
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:22 pm
Location: Maine

Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:35 pm

1. Scarborough, ME (about 7 miles from Portland)

2. Time Warner

3. Cable

4. Usually 8 Mbps, they claim it bursts up to 22 Mbps but I haven't seen that yet. Speedtest typically reports 8600 - 8800 Kbps down and 970 Kbps up

5. 20F840016995

6. About two weeks ago

7. Haven't tried the "secret" mode, this is the first I heard of it. I'll see what I can find and post again later

8. Movies start buffering at random dot quality levels, seems a pretty even spread. Every 1-3 minutes it will rebuffer at another quality level, again randomly. After doing that exactly 4 times, it settles on 2 dots and plays the rest of the way with no further issues.
Posts: 82
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2004 10:35 pm
Location: Tucson AZ

Fri Nov 14, 2008 5:03 pm

1. Tucson AZ
2. Comcast High-Speed Internet with PowerBoost
3. cable + wired connection to Roku
4. 6m (12 w/powerboost)
5. 20F84H005804
6. 2-3 weeks ago (since I installed the player in Tucson, prior to that no problems in Seattle but that was in September)
7. Forcing 4 dots when things go bad causes very slow loading and eventually rebuffers to less than 4 dots
8. It has seemed to be time of day dependent although I don't have a lot of daytime data

Is it likely that the netflix speed test results are useful?

update 11/14: playing movie at 11:30pm Fri - got 4 dots. all was well throughout the whole film
Last edited by Rich on Sat Nov 15, 2008 1:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
Posts: 46
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:16 pm

Fri Nov 14, 2008 6:04 pm

I am in Princeton, IL.

Comcast High speed cable internet. Supposed to be 10mbs or 13 mbs. One of those.

I am not sure of the serial number. I would say I bought one of the Roku boxes in the first month it was offered though.

If I force it to 4 dots, it will literally take ten minutes to start. Then after a couple minutes, it will rebuffer again. It generally, if not forced, will go with two dots. This is after having 4 dots since I got the Roku box. So I have had it for ....perhaps 6 months or so? It has been going on three weeks now. I know some people say it was after the Starz content was added, but this is not the case I believe. It seems like it has started up for most of us about 3 weeks ago.
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2008 6:19 pm

Fri Nov 14, 2008 6:22 pm

1. Foster City, CA
2. Comcast - 16Mbps
3. Cable
4. Speakeasy & Speedtest both report 20Mbps
5. 20F84C000965
6. Sometime last week - up to then we got a constant 4 quality
7. Forced Roku to 2.2 - movie slow to start, rebuffering required (although still at 4) However, the rebuffering interrupts the watching of the movie enough to make it not worthwhile
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