If you identify as one of many whom the buffering wheel has infuriated, YouTube now has a U.S.-wide tool (also available in Canada) to help you figure out why you’ve fallen victim to this online frustration. The Google Video Quality Report lets you see how well your Internet service provider can play videos on YouTube, based on a level system.
At the top, HD Verified means your ISP can deliver high definition video on the regular, without the intrusions of constant buffering. HD Verified indicates a resolution of at least 720 pixels. On the next tier, Standard Definition means you catch videos at a minimum of 360p. The lowest level, Lower Definition, indicates slow video load times and frequent buffering, even when the resolution sinks below 360p.
“If you’re regularly seeing videos buffer, this report can give you a better idea of why, as well as tips to make YouTube play better,” writes Jay Akkad, product manager at YouTube, in the company’s official blog. One of the advantages of the report is that it can show you what other ISPs in your area deliver in terms of video quality, so you can learn whether or not your particular service is screwing you over.
Based on data from billions of videos seen on YouTube over thousands of ISPs, this report factors in geographical location, overall YouTube loading time in the past 30 days, and the minimum speed available. Ratings have to do with the network, not the user, so unfortunately the Google Video Quality Report won’t clear things up for those with chronically bad internet luck regardless of where they go. For more details on how it works, Google provides its methodology online.