Mobile Video Streaming and Cellular Data 'Throttling'

Posted by Shirley Al-Jarani on February 16, 2012 at 1:35 PM

Smart Phone GraphicWith the increase of live mobile video, AT&T, Verizon and other mobile providers are struggling to provide adequate bandwidth.    The recent article by Peter Svensson of the Associated Press entitled "AT&T customers surprised by 'unlimited data' limit" (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/t-customers-surprised-unlimited-data-limit-080906861.html) illustrates the problem many mobile users are discovering.   'Unlimited data' is limited based upon the mobile providers’ network or cell tower capacity.  As the mobile providers look at it by 'throttling' your mobile access they are not limiting your data but slowing it to a crawl to discourage high volume usage on their 3/4G networks.

     While AT&T allows live mobile streaming on their 3/4G networks up to a certain extent, some providers block live mobile video on their 3/4G networks thus forcing users to connect to a Wi-Fi network.  Thereby, taking the 'mobile' out of 'mobile video streaming'.   

     I live in a small town in Ohio and it is not uncommon for me to drive around town watching live video streams of NTSB, FERC and FCC meetings with little or no buffering.   However, if I try to do the same while in Washington, D.C. or New York there is a good chance my video stream would be buffering more often than not and eventually my account would be 'throttled'. 

     Eventually, mobile providers’ network capacity will catch up with users and unlimited data will really be unlimited; users will be able to watch mobile video streaming on mobile networks as well as Wi-Fi.   Until that day, live mobile video streams are catch as catch can on mobile networks but usually work without issue on Wi-Fi networks.   More and more mass transportation providers are starting to offer Wi-Fi connections for their ridership on trains, subways and buses, thus getting around the mobile providers data limitations.

With all these restrictions on mobile networks, is it worth it to provide your next live video production with a mobile streaming option?

     Without a doubt it is worth the extra effort to provide your live video stream to mobile devices as well as to the desktop. With viewers across the country and across the world potentially watching your live webcast, giving viewers the option to watch while they commute to or from home and the office, or even to watch at home on their mobile device, is well worth the effort.   Giving your viewer additional options on how they can watch your video, whether on 3/4G networks or Wi-Fi hotspots,  puts the control in their hands, thus providing additional incentives for them to watch your live video productions.

Topics: Webcasting, streaming media