Written by Lena Kelly • August 11, 2017
When it comes to live streaming, one of the most common questions we hear is “what upload speed do I need to stream?” There are various factors at play that will affect the answer to this question. We explore them below.
Before we get started, however, let’s cover some basics:
On the internet, there are two ways to transfer information: upload and download. Uploaded data is sent from your device to the Internet. Examples include posting an image to Facebook, sending an email, or live broadcasting.
Downloaded data, on the other hand, is received on your device from the Internet and includes watching a YouTube Video or loading a webpage. Have you ever had to wait for a page to fully load? That means that your computer is struggling to download all the necessary information from that page. Everything on that webpage – the text, images, and styles – needs to load before you can view it.
Bandwidth is a commonly used expression for the upload and download speed of your internet network.
When people discuss upload and download speed, they’re talking about the speed with which the data can be transferred from your device to the Internet and vice versa. That speed is often measured in mbps or megabits per second. 8 bits make up one byte – a unit you might have seen presented as MB or Megabyte (1,000,000 bytes). As the table shows below, different file types have different sizes, and therefore take different amounts of time to download or upload.
As we established, when it comes to your organization being able to broadcast its content online, the issue at hand regards upload speed.
The upload speed you need to broadcast depends on the quality of broadcast that you’re looking to produce. Each quality of video has a different amount of information that it must upload over your network. High quality 1080p video has more pixels – and therefore more data – that it needs to upload than a video with a 480p resolution. A larger amount of data requires a higher upload speed. The table below shows our general recommendations.
It’s important to note that these values are rough estimates based on stable network environments.
To determine your current upload speed, visit speedtest.net to run a free speed test. This site will tell you what upload and download speed your ISP (internet service provider) is actually providing you with. Make sure to run this test in various conditions, such as when there are lots of people around, so that you can get a sense of how your upload speed might fluctuate.
If you’re planning to broadcast a popular event, testing on a Tuesday afternoon with nobody around may not paint an accurate picture of your available bandwidth.
The bandwidth available to broadcast your content isn’t always consistent. That’s why your internet seems slower on some days than others.
Various factors play into your connection. Some are within your control; unfortunately others are not. Let’s dive into some of the common causes of a slow internet connection.
If your organization provides Wi-Fi to everyone within the premises, your bandwidth is spread amongst the people using it. This means that it isn't solely devoted to making sure your stream goes off without a hitch.
Luckily, there are several ways to get around this issue. First, you could make your internet connection private so that people need a password to access the connection. (Make sure not to give this out! Otherwise you’ll find yourself in the same pickle.) However, if providing public Wi-Fi to people is important to you, another option you have is to prioritize different devices on your network to guarantee a certain level of performance.
For example, to ensure a stronger bandwidth for your broadcast, you can give your BoxCaster or BoxCaster Pro priority on the network and allocate it a certain amount of bandwidth on the network. This prioritization is called QoS (Quality of Service). The prioritization can get complicated, so you may want to contact an IT professional to help you.
Routers are small devices that let you connect other devices to the Internet through one physical internet connection. If you’re like most people, you’ve likely had to reset your router from time to time to improve your Internet connection.
Some routers have a broader range and include more "cores" than others. As a result, they process and queue information more quickly.
However, regardless of the router or modem you have, its effectiveness can be influenced based on where it’s stored (is it likely to overheat? Is it accumulating dust?) and how old it is. An old or dusty router slows the CPU (central processing unit) down.
If you think your router or modem is affecting the quality of your internet, there are several ways to test it. Check out this post for more information.
Regardless, if your router or modem seems slow, you’ll want to do what you can to ensure that the internet traffic sent to it is reduced as much as possible (see point above).
Equipment storage is incredibly important in the world of technology. When it comes to your cabling, do you take the time to properly store it or is it crumpled on the floor? Is it tucked behind equipment or is it regularly stepped on in a high-traffic area? Though cables often seem indestructible, that’s simply not the case. They can be bent and frayed, ultimately affecting their ability to pass signals effectively.
With the variety of factors that can limit your bandwidth, we can’t stress enough the importance of running test broadcasts before you share your first live stream with your audience.
A new technology called High Efficiency Video Coding, or HEVC, has recently emerged to allow video to be compressed twice as much without losing any quality. The size of the video data that you upload using HEVC is half as large as the file uploaded using the previous best standard, and therefore requires half the upload speed.
To use HEVC, you must have a HEVC capable encoder. Luckily, the new BoxCaster Pro makes HEVC encoding accessible to everyone. HEVC even makes broadcasting in 4K possible. The required upload speed with HEVC is shown in the table below:
As you can see, HEVC lets you broadcast in incredibly high quality for a fraction of the bandwidth. It's a wonderful way to provide your viewers with an improved experience.
When some people start live streaming, they're confused as to why there's a ~30 second delay between what they film in real time and what their broadcast reveals. Contrary to what they might think, this isn't a bandwidth issue. To learn why your live stream lags, click here.