Low Latency Streaming
Low latency streaming is the ideal for live video streaming that requires real-time interaction, such as gaming applications, live auctions and sports matches, for example. We refer to glass-to-glass (G2G) latency which is literally the time it takes from the camera lens, to the end users screen.
As demand increases for live video streaming across the world, the user search for low latency streaming solutions is becoming more competitive, and is being addressed by streaming industry providers for ever-more efficient speeds. The industry is currently learning to adopt to traditionally slower streaming methodologies such as HLS – initially designed for iOS devices, compared to older Flash based protocols, such as RTMP and RTSP. With most sites and browsers preferring HTML5 and often SSL security, streaming providers are having to change their traditional delivery methods
To achieve low latency, a balance of three key factors must be considered:
Delivery networks, such as the internet, can introduce an element of uncertainty in levels of speed. A robust infrastructure is necessary, particularly when considering buffering issues and bandwidth requirements.
The content of video is a core element when considering low latency. With the introduction of 4K, encoding capacity is under greater pressure than before to react to new encoding requirements and a never ceasing quest for higher quality. Higher encoding capacity will often create a better quality stream even at lower stream rates
The number of streams produced and streamed will alter according to audience size and geographic location. As these numbers increase, so too will the requirement for increased infrastructure, to avoid swamping the servers providing the streams.
When is low latency streaming most important?
Some types of streamed content can get away with increased latency, as the human viewer is unlikely to notice any difference, or does not need the music video or movie to be played in real time.
Achieving low latency can be crucial for other applications that the everyday user commonly requires, such as:
- Live auctions
- Interactive tutorials
- Two-way video conferencing
- Live chat
- Sports matches
- Betting sites
Such applications require ultra low latency streaming to ensure the delay is minimal, whilst quality remains high.
Low latency streaming is also a critical requirement for use in military applications, where the standard latency must be low to deliver solutions for:
- Mission critical transmissions
- Situational awareness and intelligence
- Vision-guided machinery and robotics
- Flight operations cameras
- ISR applications
- Remotely Operated Vehicle navigation (ROV)
- Unmanned Ground or Aerial Vehicle navigation (UAV/UGV)
Many claim to provide ultra low latency streaming, but few providers have the full control and optimisation of all elements of the digital broadcast chain to deliver it to most common devices and across all browsers. The future of low latency streaming is exciting, and as providers introduce multi-protocol technologies, users are beginning to see ultra low latency services grow.