Why my TV “freezes”?

A common issue experienced by customers during the evening hours is “freezing” of the video and audio signal. “Freezing” happens when there is not enough internet bandwidth in the signal’s path and parts of the signal are delayed or lost in the transmission.  In this article we want to explain why it happens and what you can improve your signal.

Internet is a public highway

Polish TV is an internet-based service where signal is transmitted over the public network, which means that there is very little control of how the signal travels.

The quality of the video signal depends on many factors, where speed and quality of the internet are two of the most important factors.  Understanding how internet works can shed some light on the “freezing” issue.  

Network bottlenecks at Internet Exchanges

In very simplified terms, The Internet, is a collection of separate networks like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Cablevision and Time Warner connecting together to form a global network or Internet.  The points where networks connect together are called Internet Exchanges. As the Internet traffic levels increase, these Internet Exchanges become congested (network bottlenecks), which results in increased latency andpacket loss, which causes “freezing” on your tv.  Think of it like the Brooklyn Bridge during the rush hour.  Everybody is trying to cross the bridge at the same time resulting in a huge traffic.  When video signal travels over the internet it must pass through one or more of these Internet Exchanges.  Because video is very sensitive to the “internet traffic” when it happens everybody experiences “freezing”.

Network overload at local Intenet Provider

All Internet providers like Cablevision, Time Warner use one internet “pipe” for many customers in one neighborhood. So everybody in the neighborhood is sharing the internet with neighbors and in the evening people start using internet and this causes average speed to drop for everybody.  This usually happens during the peak time from 7PM to 11PM, which leads to the following things happening:

1. Increased internet traffic
2. Increased load on the network
3. Decreased Internet Speed
4. Decreased quality of the signal

A good example of this would be a water pipe in a large building.  As everybody turns the water on, the pressure in the pipes goes down and everybody has less pressure in the faucet.

How to fight “freezing”?

You can do two things 1) Improve your internet connection and/or 2) Adjust settings on the box. Here are few steps, which you can follow to improve your video experience

Improve internet connection in your home

1. Switch from Wireless connection to LAN
Yes, this matters. Wireless connection is way less stable and is less suitable for video over the internet. So we do always recommend to connect via LAN. If you have your router on the other floor than TV Box and you can’t or don’t want to run a cable - Powerline adapter will be a solution for you! This device costs around $70 and allows you to pass the internet through the electrical network.

2. Don’t use internet on other devices
Disconnect your phone, laptop or tablet from the network and turn off the computer.  Don’t use internet on the computers at the same time while watching TV.  

3. Upgrade your modem to DOCSIS 3 modem
You can request to upgrade your modem from your Internet provider to the newest version of the modem. DOCSIS 3 modems have separate channel for video streaming compared to older modems which only have one channel for everything.

4. Upgrade your Internet plan
Sometimes it is just not enough Internet speed! So you may consider upgrading your Internet plan to the higher speed level.

Adjust settings on the box

1. Increase buffering on the box
Whether you are watching online or on the TV, you may increase the buffering time. The range is from 3 seconds to 15 seconds. The more picture “freezes” the higher buffering time you should set.

How to increase buffering while watching on the TV (Alfa)
How to increase buffering while watching online

2. Change server on the box
We have servers located in the different parts of the world to have the shortest distance between the box and the server.  By default we connect you to the server which is the closest to your location. For example if you live in New York we will connect you to the East Coast Server.

During the prime time a lot of people from one region connect to the closest server and create a higher load on the server. So you can temporarily switch to a different server (where prime time has passed already or didn’t start yet). However, you need to switch back to your local server during the next day while watching NOT in the prime time.

How to change the server while watching on the TV (Dune)
How to change the server while watching on the TV (Alfa)
How to change the server while watching online

3. Switch to “Eco” mode on the box
“Eco” mode uses less internet resources. However, the video quality will decrease and you can not watch Archive in this mode (only live).

How to switch to Eco mode while watching on the TV (Dune)
How to switch to Eco mode while watching on the TV (Alfa)
How to switch to Eco mode while watching online

We hope that all the information above will give you a better understanding of how Polish TV service works and steps above will help you to adjust service correctly and improve overall watching experience!

We are constantly working to improve  Polish TV service and your feedback would help us make the service even better! So if you have any comments or questions, please let us know