Network Guide for Hosts

How to determine if your network connection is strong enough for live streaming

To produce a professional-looking video, whether offline or live, it is important to choose a well-lit location, make sure the recording device is fully charged and choose a microphone that works well in the location.

However, unlike when recording regular video, the foundation for a high-quality live broadcast is a stable and fast network connection.

Wireless networks, both 4G and Wi-Fi, are most often the limiting factor for live broadcast quality. This may come as an unexpected surprise for people familiar with recording regular video and uploading it to on-demand services. When broadcasting live video, uplink (upload) speed is more important than download speed.

If the broadcaster has a slow connection, this will be the bottleneck for what is distributed to viewers, and particularly viewers on fast connections will be disappointed.

The Live Shopping app will automatically adapt video quality according to available network speed. 720p quality today uses around 5 Mbps, so you should strive to find a network that can provide this. The broadcaster can adapt to networks as slow as 0.3 Mbps and still provide a coherent stream, but the video quality will be severely reduced. The numbers given here are subject to change as newer technologies become available.

4G versus Wi-Fi

4G networks are generally very good outdoors or near windows in a building, and the connection is usually quite stable. 4G subscriptions usually include a very good upload speed. If you're broadcasting where 4G coverage is good, it is probably your best choice.

When going deeper inside a building, into a basement, or behind thick walls, 4G network coverage and bandwidth will shrink dramatically. Live video resolution and bitrate will consequently be reduced. If you plan on broadcasting from such locations, try to scout in advance for high quality Wi-Fi networks.

Wi-Fi networks are very varying in quality. A modern 5GHz Wi-Fi router backed by a fast wired network can provide an excellent upload speed, albeit in a limited area.

Oppositely, a Wi-Fi connection can be horrible. Examples to avoid:

  • Older 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi router in an urban area where the 2.4 GHz band is congested. The uplink speed will almost always be slow. Additionally, the connection can be very erratic, causing choppy video and audio drop-outs.
  • Wi-Fi where a lot of devices are connected to the same router. Other users competing for bandwidth can cause a large variation in video quality and intermittent drop-outs.
  • Wi-Fi backed by a mediocre wired network connection. Older wired home networks such as ADSL might provide 20 Mbps download but only 1-2 Mbps upload speed. Such networks may be good enough for viewing video but are unsuitable for broadcasting live video.

Practical advice