John Gonzalez

Do You Really Have Enough Bandwidth to Stream Video?
By John Gonzalez

After reading Aaron Todd’s article on “The Surprising Benefits of 4K Technology” (or rather, the benefits of compressing video files), I realized that the need for small file sizes when streaming video warrants its own article. Broadcasters across the globe can all agree that digital video streaming (whether it’s live or video-on-demand) is here to stay. Its popularity garners increased interest within organizations to stream their normally broadcast content to the masses.

Streaming is quickly becoming an increasingly effective way to offer video content to those without traditional viewing mediums and easily supplements broadcasting options. With this new form of viewing, however, comes a lot of infrastructure that needs to happen on the back end to ensure quality video for your audience. This often comes as a surprise to organizations on their first foray into the streaming world, especially those that want to stream directly from their stations.

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Is it technically possible to stream directly from your facility? Absolutely; in fact some of our competitors offer packages aimed at doing so. Is it realistically feasible? Not likely.

Here’s the thing about bandwidth: only so much can be used at a time. Say your organization’s headquarters regularly gets 14 Mbps download times and 14 Mbps upload times. That’s a decent speed for streaming video … for one viewer without any other users on the network. Let’s say that your organization has created a 30 minute video-on-demand file to be streamed from their network. The compression is decent and the video operates with good resolution at about 2 Mbps. Since two is much smaller than 14, one might assume the facility has enough bandwidth to properly stream the file, right?

Streaming that video takes up 2 Mbps, that’s true, but it’s actually 2 Mbps per viewer meaning that a second viewer would eat up 4 Mbps of bandwidth. Adding any more viewers, as well as bandwidth consumed by daily traffic from other network users, will cause quality to dip significantly, eventually becoming unwatchable altogether.  For this reason, solutions specifically designed for video streaming from the customer’s facility are really doomed from the start.

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With so much data being thrown around, streaming video really needs to be hosted on a service that can handle the bandwidth load. VieBit™, our exclusive live and video-on-demand streaming service, has significant bandwidth resources, preventing the kind of degradation caused by streaming a video from your own facility. In addition to reliability, VieBit gives so much more on the back end than a typical facility stream. Things like statistics, authentications, and constant monitoring keep everything running at the highest possible quality available for your video file. In addition to all of this, each VieBit subscription comes with its own customizable website to host all of your video content. Check out this marketing post on VieBit branding for more information.

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How your data is encoded plays a huge role in the quality of streaming video and overall viewing experience, especially in regards to live streams. LEIGHTRONIX products like the IncodeX® series of encoders/recorders, and UltraNEXUS-HD™ video servers use hardware-based encoding technology. The big advantage of this over software-based encoding is reliability and ease of use. This equipment is built to require minimal human interaction over great lengths of time, something software-based encoding has trouble with. What’s more, hardware-based encoders aren’t dependent on additional off-the-shelf equipment, simplifying potentially messy and complicated workflows. Our newer products natively encode both high bitrate MPEG-2 and high bitrate H.264 formats yielding a smooth and reliable high-definition live stream that occupies the same space we previously fit standard definition video. We actually used an IncodeX Vier® at an event in Michigan very much proving this point.

From encoding and recording to hosting video content for streaming, LEIGHTRONIX handles all of the end-to-end solutions for streaming. Part of this is due to our experience in the industry. While many of our competitors have recently released their first streaming solutions, VieBit is our third generation streaming platform. We have historically brought major innovations to the forefront of the broadcasting industry; streaming video, being a major focus of ours for years now, perfectly falls under that categorization. For more information on VieBit or hardware-based encoding, call us at (800) 243-5589.

John manages the daily operations of the LEIGHTRONIX Technical Support team and coordinates software and firmware testing and releases. He also troubleshoots analog and digital video systems, provides software support, and handles TCP/IP networking.

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