Talking Video Streaming over Wireless
The appetite for online live and on-demand video is here. And it keeps getting bigger. Video over internet has become fairly common-place. Even technology resistant grandparents are clicking on icons and streaming clips to catch highlights of their favorite TV shows. Maybe they got started during the 2010 Winter Olympics or while searching for a movie or trying to access that important news clip about the benefits of say an all-edamame diet (it could happen).
I confess that I am an online movie/video junkie. As a user, I don’t care about whether the video is being streamed (and how) or progressively downloaded. All I care about is how quickly it starts to play, how smoothly, and whether I can rewind or skip ahead. What I ultimately want is something that’s a cross between a TV and a DVD, but without any new and fancy gadgets.
Now, let’s say I want to be able to watch these all-pervasive videos anytime and any place (who doesn’t?), with or without my laptop, with our without wireline connections and their counterpart home wireless routers.
Do I care or comprehend that now, someone has to figure out how to adapt the content in a way so that it displays properly on my device that my sister’s best friend’s brother’s colleague won at some contest a few years ago? Or that I might clog up my carrier’s wireless network where other good people are still trying to do their work, make relationship-building phone calls, check urgent emails, text each other to organize a neighborhood tree planting to combat global warming, or exchange critical files about life-saving cures for diseases we haven’t even heard about? (Unless, perhaps if it shows up on my bill.)
Ultimately, we, the consumers, want the smart people to get smarter. We want app developers, device manufactures, and wireless carries to figure it out so that we don’t have to. So, they have to care. They have care about how the various layers and pieces and parts work together. They have to care about: what type of content it is (audio/video/fast action/detailed), how it should be packaged (the codec to use, file formats), or delivered (downloaded or streamed at adapted rates), the type of device that would be accessing the app (screen size/resolution), or whether we’re on 2G/3G/WiFi.
Earlier this week, the AT&T Developer Program took a step in this direction with a webcast on delivering streaming services over the wireless network. They called it “Guidelines for Delivering Streaming Services on AT&T’s Wireless Network.”
The key message of the webcast was that audio and video streaming can work well over wireless networks, but developers need to use special consideration and optimization for applications that involve multi-media streaming. And that this optimization is needed for a good user experience.
After touching on various considerations about adapting and delivering content to devices over wireless networks, the webcast focused on recommendations and guidelines. The key point they made was that when it comes to delivering content over wireless, bigger (or higher rates) is not necessarily better. The content must be optimized. Some of their recommendations for delivering media streaming over wireless included: where feasible, using Wi-Fi for multimedia streaming, encoding content in H.264 Baseline Profile, using multi-rate coding in the range of 44 to 64 kbps for streaming video over 2G and 85 to 200 kbps for streaming video over 3G, and using the 3GPP Packet-Switched Streaming Service Protocol for delivering content to the greatest number of handsets.
AT&T has also released a white paper on this with more details. So, if you are a developer who is thinking about an app with multi-media streaming or just curious about such matters, be sure to read it. Both the wireless carrier (AT&T in this case) and the users will thank you for it.
For the white paper, go to: http://developer.att.com/videostreaming
The webcast is available at: