A few years ago Youtube and Netflix only had one server to host their content, and it didn’t work. The users located far from their servers geographically had a lot of lag, and during traffic peaks (Saturday evening for example) the server was slowed down by all the requests it received. Streaming companies have addressed this problem by creating “Content Delivery Networks” or CDNs (“Content Delivery Networks”) that store and send content. A CDN is a dense global network of servers that all contain the same content. This reduces lag and prevents servers located in heavily populated areas from being overloaded.

The Finer Options

However, a strong CDN will be of no use to you if all of your users have a poor internet connection. With the war between ISPs to offer ever faster and more efficient connections, this problem tends to resolve itself. In addition, internet giants like Google and Amazon are starting to announce their plans to establish an ultra-fast and global internet through projects all more eccentric than each other. With Smartcric you can find the smartest deals.

  • However, the streaming services and the ISPs have realized that despite the improvement in the average speed and the density of the CDNs, a significant global internet traffic also causes the lags of the streaming services. It is also important to note that streaming services like Netflix use more than 15% of the global internet bandwidth. When a popular series like Stranger Things is released on a streaming service, the mass of people who will watch it simultaneously can literally slow down the internet.

To address this problem, streaming platforms provide ISPs with “Open Connect Appliances” or OCAs. These OCAs are basically hard drives full of videos, music and other streaming content. Your ISP no longer needs to pass all these requests to the streaming service which prevents any internet from slowing down because of Netflix.

Live streaming: new problems

With new live streaming platforms like Facebook Live or Twitch, the information you receive on your computer is transmitted in real time (or almost). So, as you can doubt, the streamer should be able to upload the video as fast as you can download it.

When a streamer broadcasts its video, each millisecond of this video (and the audio that accompanies it) is cut into small files. These files are compressed and organized by an encoder, they travel across the internet, and your computer downloads them from the other side. The files being encoded, your computer has no trouble putting them back in the correct order to reconstruct an understandable video and the lag between you and the streamer is minimal.