What is a Good Internet Upload Speed for Live Streaming?
There are many components that determine the quality of online video streams. One of these components is internet speed. Different streaming setups require the support of different internet connections. Some broadcasts require faster internet than others due to several variables.
In this post, we’re going to discuss everything broadcasters need to know about internet speed for live streaming. We will cover the basics of internet speed for live streaming before we get into how to determine the best internet speed for your stream.
From there, we will discuss ideal internet speeds for many different use cases. To wrap things up, we will discuss the importance of viewers’ internet speed. Both your internet speed and your viewers internet speed impacts the end product.
The Basics of Internet Speed for Live Streaming
A lot goes on behind the scenes to make online streaming possible. Different types of technology, including streaming protocols, work behind the scenes to carry chunks of data throughout the live streaming setup to user-facing video players. Online video streaming requires an internet connection that is steady and secure. That is a good upload speed for streaming.
There are two measures of internet speed: download speed and upload speed. As a broadcaster, you need to pay attention to the second part of your internet connection speed: upload. In general, our recommendation for live streaming is that your upload speed should be at least double the total bandwidth you’ll use.
The best type of internet connection for live streaming is Ethernet. This sort of connection is both stable and reliable. If Ethernet is not an option, WiFi is a close second. A wireless connection can get the job done, but it is less reliable. The type of internet connection you have impacts the internet speed for live streaming that you can access.
What is a Good Internet Upload Speed for Live Streaming?
Many broadcasters are left wondering what the best internet speed for live streaming is. However, that depends on several factors. Your internet speed should be at least double the bandwidth that your stream will use.
Different streaming scenarios have different technical requirements.
In general, an upload speed from 672 kbps to 61.5 Mbps will get the job done.
In order to give you a better understanding of how this works on a technical level, let’s quickly break down bandwidth and two related streaming metrics.
Download Speeds for Viewing Live Streams
Streaming quality seems to have increased over the years, with video start failures down 33% year-over-year, buffering down 41%, and picture quality up 25%. One of the reasons for this is the gradually increasing speed of internet connections. Both mobile networks and home internet services are increasing in speed.
Remember how we discussed that there are two aspects of internet speed? As we mentioned, upload speed is important for broadcasting content, but download speed is important when it comes to watching streaming video.
Today, the average download speed in the United States is around 99.3 Mbps.
Here are some general guidelines for internet speed and streaming video:
- 25 Mbps: sufficient for streaming 1080p HD video
- 10 Mbps: sufficient for 720p video
- 5 Mbps: sufficient for 480p video
As a broadcaster, you can’t control the internet speed of your viewers. However, you can watch your analytics data to figure out the speed of your viewer’s connection. This can allow you to modify your multi-bitrate streaming approach, in order to choose streaming resolutions that fit your viewers needs.
Encoder Configurations Related to Internet Speed
Let’s take a look at how different bitrate settings correlate with different live streaming resolutions.
ULD LD SD HD FHD
Name Ultra-Low Definition Low Definition Standard Definition High Definition Full High Definition
Video Bitrate (kbps) 350 350 – 800 800 – 1200 1200 – 1900 1900 – 4500
Resolution Width (px) 426 640 854 1280 1920
Resolution Height (px) 240 360 480 720 1080
H.264 Profile Main Main High High High
As you can see in the live encoder settings chart above, lower bitrate settings yield low-resolution/low-quality streams, and higher bitrate settings yield high-resolution/high-quality streams. As we mentioned, bitrate and resolution also directly correlate with bandwidth consumption, determining the necessary internet speeds.
It is safe to conclude that the higher resolution you aim for, the faster internet you will need.
Internet Speed Requirements for Different Streaming Use Cases
To circle back, your internet speed should be double your intended bandwidth usage. How much bandwidth you require can be calculated in one of two ways. If you’re doing multi-bitrate streaming, it will be the sum of the bitrates of each rendition you’re streaming in. If you’re only streaming at a single bit rate, there’s your final number.
From a technical standpoint, internet speed requirements directly depend on bandwidth needs. Bandwidth usage depends on bitrate settings and video resolution. The number of viewers you’re streaming to and for how long you’re streaming are also important factors in determining what upload speed you need for streaming.
You can plug this information into a bandwidth calculator and double that number to find your minimum internet speed for streaming. Let’s go through some specific internet speed requirements and set up suggestions for different streaming use cases.
For reference, we’re basing these suggestions based on the following estimated internet requirements for different resolutions:
- 1080p resolution stream @ 5.5 Mbps
- 720p resolution stream @ 2.2 Mbps
- 480p resolution stream @ 800 kbps
- 240p resolution stream @ 500 kbps
That said, let’s take a closer look at some real-life streaming scenarios.
Internet Speed Needed for Streaming on Different Platforms
Viewers’ internet speed affects each user’s experience.
Many broadcasters stream on social media streaming platforms in addition to the streams that they host with their white-label video players. The value of this is that it helps to reach an existing audience on a platform that they are familiar and comfortable with.
- Facebook: 4,000 kbps
- YouTube: 1,500 to 4,000 kbps
- Twitch: 2,500 to 4,000 kbps
- Dailymotion: 150% of the video bitrate
- LinkedIn Live: 10 Mbps
Understanding how internet speed affects live streaming helps broadcasters produce higher-quality streams. It’s important to remember that different types of streams require different internet speeds.
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