Live Streaming Software

Upload Speeds for 4K Live Streaming

This post covers the factors that influence your ability to broadcast content in 4K and the recommended bandwidth requirements for your 4K stream. It's part of our series on upload speed for live streaming and 4K live streaming.

In order to live stream video content, significant amounts of bandwidth are required. Your required bandwidth to broadcast in 4K depends on the type of compression that you use on the video.

Currently, most software and hardware encoders (here's why you should be using a hardware encoder) compress the video using H.264, but recently new encoders, such as the BoxCaster Pro, use H.265 (also known as HEVC) to compress the video. When using HEVC, you only need half of the bandwidth of H.264. 

For a full comparison of the two video codecs, check out this post:

HEVC (H.265) vs. AVC (H.264) - What’s the Difference?

Even with good compression, video content still requires a significant amount of bandwidth. Here’s a summary of video bit rates that several different streaming services recommend:


 Obtained from pages at YouTubeFacebook, and Ustream

In addition to the bandwidth required for video, you will need to add audio (typically in the 128-320 kbps range) and some small amount for overhead. Then double it, as you should plan to always stay at 50% or less of available bandwidth in case of disruptions.

For example, if you’re planning to stream a 1080p60 broadcast to YouTube, you might use 6 Mbps (in the recommended range of 4.5-9 Mbps) for video, 128 kbps for audio (YouTube’s recommended audio setting), and ~50 kbps for overhead; doubling this means you need at least 12.356 Mbps of total available bandwidth. (If you’re using the BoxCaster Pro with HEVC, you can get even better quality and need only 8.356 Mbps!)

Also, remember that if your streaming service does not provide cloud transcoding, you’ll need to add those up for every level you wish to provide to viewers

To learn more about BoxCast's advanced video cloud infrastructure, check out:

How BoxCast Encodes, Ingests, Transcodes, And Delivers Live Video Streaming At Scale

Curious what your upload bandwidth is? Check out this speed test.

Final Thoughts + Further Reading

4K live streaming requires a significant amount of upload speed, but HEVC compression enables broadcasting at half the bandwidth of previous video codecs.

Here's some further reading you might find interesting:

What Upload Speed Do I Need to Live Stream?

Alternatives to Mobile Hotspots: Live Broadcasting on the Go


4K Live Streaming- The Right Questions to Ask

What Does 4K Actually Mean?

Upload Speeds for 4K Live Streaming