The right internet connection for streaming: What you need to pay attention to

Anyone who wants to create their own livestream inevitably faces the question of what technical requirements are necessary for this. In addition to suitable streaming hardware such as a powerful computer or encoder, microphone, camera, and lighting, having the right internet connection is also an essential aspect. We will show you what to look out for in your internet connection to ensure that your stream runs smoothly.

This is what matters for the internet line

For streaming, it is crucial to have a sufficient upload speed for your internet connection. If you play online games with other human opponents, a good ping is essential. We will explain both terms to you in more detail below and provide you with target values that you can use as a guide for your stream. We will also show you which type of internet connection is most suitable for achieving the target goals and what you can do if your latency is too high or your upload speed is too low.

Sufficient bandwidth for streaming

What does bandwidth mean?

The internet speed (bandwidth) can be divided into download and upload speed. Both are typically measured in Mbit/s (Megabits per second).

The upload speed indicates how fast data can be transferred from your device to the internet. This is essential for a functioning stream.

The download speed, on the other hand, indicates how quickly data can be downloaded from the internet to your device. This is especially relevant if you want to play online games in your stream.

Which factors influence the required bandwidth?

The exact bandwidth required for streaming cannot be answered in general.

This depends on the resolution and how many frames per second you want to stream with. The higher the resolution and frames per second, the higher the bit rate and upload speed required for streaming. It also matters what content you want to translate. A highly dynamic image (such as when playing fast-paced or highly detailed video games) requires a higher bitrate and therefore also a higher upload speed than a very static image (such as during a calm speech). Alternatively to a higher bitrate, a lower CPU utilization preset can be selected in streaming software using more powerful hardware. This preset will compress the stream more strongly and thus provide better image quality at the same bitrate.

If you want to play online games on your computer during your stream, you also need a suitable download speed. Since the data transferred from the game servers to you is limited to a minimum to ensure a good gaming experience, you do not need a particularly large internet connection. Furthermore, since the upload speed in most internet tariffs is significantly lower than the download speed, you should pay particular attention to choosing a suitable upload speed.

What bandwidth is required for streaming?

The major streaming platforms each have their own recommendations for bitrate at different resolutions and frame rates. In general, it can be said that the combined video and audio bitrates should not exceed 80% of the available upload speed, as fluctuations can occur in both directions during encoding. On most platforms, the recommended audio bitrate is 128 kbps. The following overview provides an overview of the recommended video bitrate by platforms for various resolutions and frames per second, as well as the required upload speed for them.

Twitch

Resolution & FramerateBitrateUpload speed
720p @ 30fps3000 kbit/s3.75 Mbit/s
720p @ 60fps4500 kbit/s5.625 Mbit/s
1080p @ 30fps4500 kbit/s5.625 Mbit/s
1080p @ 60fps6000 kbit/s7.5 Mbit/s

YouTube

Resolution & FramerateBitrateUpload speed
720p @ 30fps1500 – 4000 kbit/s1.875 – 5 Mbit/s
720p @ 60fps2250 – 6000 kbit/s2.8125 – 7.5 Mbit/s
1080p @ 30fps3000 – 6000 kbit/s3.75 – 7.5 Mbit/s
1080p @ 60fps4500 – 9000 kbit/s5.625 – 11.25 Mbit/s
1440p @ 30fps6000 – 13000 kbit/s7.5 – 16.25 Mbit/s
1440p @ 60fps9000 – 18000 kbit/s11.25 – 22.5 Mbit/s
2160p @ 30fps13,000 – 34,000 kbit/s16.25 – 42.5 Mbit/s
2160p @ 60fps20000 – 51000 kbit/s25 – 63.75 Mbit/s

Facebook

Resolution & FramerateBitrateUpload speed
720p @ 30fps400 – 1000 kbit/s0.5 – 0.8 Mbit/s
720p @ 60fps2250 – 6000 kbit/s2.8125 – 7.5 Mbit/s
1080p @ 30fps3000 – 6000 kbit/s3.75 – 7.5 Mbit/s
1080p @ 60fps4500 – 9000 kbit/s5.625 – 11.25 Mbit/s

As you can see, for a high-quality stream at 1080p and 60fps, an upload speed of 10 Mbps is sufficient in many cases.

It is important to note in any case that you should not necessarily rely on the upload speed advertised by your internet provider for your plan, as this is only a maximum achievable value. The achievable bandwidth can only be determined through internet speed tests. It’s best to have multiple tests on different weekdays and at different times of the day. The lowest measured values are crucial for your stream, as you must always be prepared for the upload speed to fall to these values.

Low latency

What does latency mean?

The delay between the transmission of a data packet and the arrival of the returned data packet is referred to as latency or ping. This is measured in milliseconds and is particularly relevant when streaming, especially if you want to play online games against human opponents. In this case, latency measures the time it takes to send your data to the game server and receive the server’s response. If the ping is too high, you have a significant disadvantage compared to your opponents due to delays or even temporary dropouts in the game.

How large should the latency be at maximum?

In general, it can be said that a ping over 100 milliseconds is perceived as disruptive in almost every game. If you play fast-paced games, a ping of up to 50 milliseconds is acceptable. An optimal ping is under 30 milliseconds.

Appropriate connection types for streaming

Whether the ping and upload speed are sufficient for your stream also depends largely on the type of internet connection. To start with: For a non-mobile stream, a VDSL or fiber-optic connection is best suited, as both types can achieve both a suitable bandwidth and a good ping. If these options are not available at your streaming location, LTE is also suitable, although latency can fluctuate significantly. We will explain in more detail why a particular type of connection may or may not be suitable for your own livestreams.

Cable

Cable connections are tempting, as Internet providers advertise high bandwidths at fair prices. Whether the promised bandwidths can be kept depends on the Internet provider and the area. In Germany, for example, the promised bandwidths can often not be kept, especially with cable connections. This is largely due to the fact that all customers with a cable connection share the bandwidth provided via a distribution box and the network expansion has not been able to meet the high demand for cable connections in recent years. As a result, there are often too many users sharing the bandwidth, which can lead to bottlenecks in download and upload speeds, especially in the evening or at weekends. Anyone who needs a stable upload speed for their own stream is therefore often not well served with a cable connection (despite the high bandwidth booked). So before you buy Internet via cable, you should find out about the conditions in your area.

DSL

A DSL connection usually refers to an ADSL connection (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line). This means that the download speed is significantly higher than the upload speed. Internet providers usually highlight the download speed of their tariffs on their websites. Since the upload speed is usually significantly lower than the download speed, it is worth taking a second look at the exact details of the tariffs.

The transmission is only carried out via a copper cable in regular DSL connections, which limits the transmission speed. It reaches a maximum of 16 Mbps in download and 1 Mbps in upload. These lines are not suitable for your own livestream as the upload speed is significantly too low.

In VDSL connections, both copper and fiber optic cables are used, with the fiber optic cable extending to the distribution box. With these, a higher transfer speed can be achieved. The data rates offered by internet providers reach up to 250 Mbit/s in upload and 40 Mbit/s in download. VDSL connections generally provide a suitable upload speed for your own livestream. However, how much of it actually reaches you, you should check with Internet speed tests. The latency should also be minimal for VDSL connections, typically ranging between 10 and 30 milliseconds.

Fiber optic

For those who already have fiber optic connections up to the building (FTTB – Fiber To The Building) or up to their own apartment (FTTH – Fiber To The Home), connections up to 1,000 Mbit/s or 1 Gbit/s and 200 Mbit/s in upload speed are available. Therefore, fiber optic cables offer more than enough bandwidth for high-quality streaming in uploads. Also, the latency is rather low and usually ranges between 5 and 20 milliseconds.

Fiber optic expansion has progressed very differently in different countries. You should therefore find out from your provider whether fiber optic Internet is available at your location.

LTE

LTE tariffs are available from providers with download speeds of up to 500 Mbit/s and upload speeds of 100 Mbit/s. In principle, this is sufficient in terms of bandwidth for streaming. However, the specified download and upload speed is to be understood as the total capacity in an area. The more users simultaneously use a cell tower, the lower your actual achievable download and upload speeds will be. For example, the weather can also have a negative impact on your LTE connection. For these reasons, there can be significant fluctuations in the available bandwidth that you may find difficult to control. In addition, your ping can range between 10 and 80 milliseconds.

In general, if you have the option to use a VDSL or fiber optic connection with sufficient bandwidth for streaming, this is the better choice. If this option is not available at your streaming location, a stable stream can also be hosted using LTE. Only online gaming can be problematic due to latency. A more stable LTE connection is possible through bonding multiple connections from different providers. Fluctuations or outages of one provider are compensated for by the other connections. However, this requires multiple plans from different providers as well as special software or hardware for the bonding process itself.

Tips and tricks

A low upload speed or high latency can have many different causes and does not necessarily have to be related to your internet provider. Below are a few tips on how you can optimize upload speed and latency if necessary.

Internet via network cable instead of WLAN

If possible, one should connect their streaming computer to the router using a network cable in order to achieve a stable and good upload speed with low latency. Wi-Fi can only provide a good internet connection under optimal reception conditions (short distance, no walls between router and device).

Avoid simultaneous downloads and uploads

To avoid negatively affecting the upload speed, you should avoid additional uploads (such as uploading data to the cloud) while streaming. Since downloads can also affect your upload speed and latency, you should also avoid streaming a movie or music, for example, at the same time.

Remove unnecessary devices from the network

Removing unnecessary devices from the network prevents them from affecting your upload speed while streaming or increasing your latency.

Close unnecessary software

The network can be burdened by unnecessary software running in the background. To optimize your bandwidth and latency, you should check which software you really need to use simultaneously and close everything else.

Avoid outdated hardware and software

A too slow upload speed can also result from using outdated hardware such as modem or router. Therefore, when experiencing internet issues, check if they can possibly be resolved by upgrading to newer hardware. Outdated drivers can also have a negative impact.

Remove malware and use privacy tools and ad blockers.

Your upload speed can also be affected by malware, ads, or tracking tools. Remove any malware, use ad blockers, and privacy tools to optimize your bandwidth.

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