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What is Bandwidth?

Bandwidth is the internet equivalent to how fast your car can go. It is measured as the maximum amount of data that can be transmitted over a fixed period of time. For the internet, bandwidth is expressed as bits per second (bps) or bytes per second. For other devices (like a radio transmitter), bandwidth is expressed in cycles per second, or Hertz (Hz).

A "56 K" computer modem (56.6 Kilobytes) is able to receive up to 56,600 bytes of data in one second. A "1.5MBS" DSL line (1.5 Megabytes) is able to receive up to 1,500,000 bytes of data in one second.

Note that 'up to' is in italics. Some domestic automobiles can go 'up to' 140 miles per hour (225 Km/hr), but they are not always travelling at that speed. The same principle applies to an internet connection. A 56.6 K modem is usually connected and operating in the 38K - 46K range when connected. Rarely does a 56.6 K modem connect, receive and transmit at 56.6K.

The MSN Bandwidth site will actually test your connection speed and give you immediate results.

Why is Bandwidth so important?

For Streaming, Bandwidth plays a major role in the quality of a video image or an audio sound. Lets take the below POKEMON preview from as an example:

MOV - Video Example

Lets say that each each frame (packet of data) of a video image we saw was 70 Kilobytes (K) in size. Lets also say they were able to compress (reduce) the file size of each frame to 25 K. That means at 56.6 K you would be able to watch 2 frames per second (FPS). Remember what was said above, most of the time its at 38 - 46K, so thats a litte more than 1 frame every second. That's not so great at all.

A 1.5 Megabyte per second (1.5 MBS) T1 line should get up to 60 FPS. Again, thats at the max. A T1 line would probably get 15-25 FPS based on this example. 15-25 FPS is ALOT more than 1 FPS.

Speed and FPS is only one reason why Bandwidth is so important.

The next reason why Bandwidth is so important is $ COST $. Yes, in the internet business world, few have forethought about costs for things. During the late 1990's, internet companies were "spending money like it was out of style." These businesses had not put much thought into costs for doing business, and subsequently, many are closing their doors. For Streaming, the companies that succeed are the ones that evaluate costs. This principle not applies to the streaming companies listed on this site. It also applies to you, your company and your website.

Most companies and individuals have websites with a limied amount of web traffic. Once you begin streaming media from a website, you enter a whole new ball game in terms of bandwidth consumed. If you are running a live webcast with a plenititude of viewers (something like a rock concert), hundreds of megabytes (MB) are being sent from your servers over the internet every second. That costs money. Someone has to pay for the data transmission. You will be certainly charged a fee from your bandwitdh provider or ISP. Definitely check and compare how much each bandwitdh provider charges for streaming data.

Most Bandwidth providers have a set monthly rate for a set amount of bandwidth. Once the website goes beyond the minimum bandwidth levels, then the website is usually charged a fee at a set Megabyte (MB) transmitted fee.

Example: A bandwidth provider has a basic charge of USD $ 400 per month for streaming up to 5000 megabytes (MB) of transmission, and $0.50 per MB used beyond that. If the site in one month has an extremely popular broadcast and transmits 7600 MB of data, the website will be assessed a charge for the following: Basic Charges for the first 5000 MB ($ 400) + plus + 2600 MB at $0.50/MB ($ 1,300). The website's total monthly charge would then be USD $ 1,700.

What about delays?

When you watch a LIVE and REAL TIME webcast, it is not actually "real time." There is a delay. Delays and their periods can vary upon any of the following factors:

  • Receiver's Internet Service Provider (ISP) capabilities. (AOL is notoriusly slow).

  • Receivers connection speed and connection quality to the (ISP).

  • Senders Bandwith Provider's capabilities.

  • Distance from the stream source to the Bandwith provider's node on the internet.

  • Overall Internet Traffic. (The internet is most active from 9PM to 1AM Eastern Standard Time). See the Matrix site to learn more about internet performance. The Phillips Group provide detailed reports on Internet traffic and bandwidth issues.

    Some industry journals on Bandwidth are:

  • DSL Times - FREE.

  • Broadband Week - FREE.

  • BigPipe Online News

  • What should I look for/ask?

    Here are some questions to ask the bandwidth providers:

  • What kind of Internet Connection do you have?

  • What kind of Redundancy Connections are there for the servers?

  • How often are the servers backed up? By what method (Live, Tape, etc)?

  • How quick is the recover period in the event of a crash or failure?

  • What kind of power protection is used?

  • Is there a remote mirror site? Is it at another physical location?

  • What kind of software platform runs the server (ie: UNIX, Windows NT, etc)?

  • What is the uptime for the service? How long has the uptime been measured?

  • What kind of database software does the service allow me access to?

  • What are the Bandwidth charges?

  • Additional Charges (i.e: Database use, domain pointing, etc).

  • How do I contact the BANDWIDTH PROVIDERS?

    One thing you can do is fill out the Streaming List and companies in this business will contact you.

    If you live in the USA and are looking for DSL availability in your area and who offers it, one of the best sites on the internet to check is DSL REPORTS (USA): Provider of Bandwidth for Streaming Live Webcasts, Video On Demand and Interactive Streaming Multimedia.

    @Work (Division of Excite)
    AboveNet Communications Inc.
    AcenetX Canada
    Activate (div of CMGI)
    Add Stream
    Akamai Technologies
    Avid Internet Solutions
    Axient Communications
    Backbone Communications
    BitBand Technologies Ltd. Israel
    Bridge Information Systems
    Broadband Networks Corporation
    Broadcast International
    Broadwing Communcations
    Cable & Wireless
    Cayenta Incorporated

    select from the STREAMING LIST below:

    2Ne     - to -     Cha

    Cha     - to -     Edg

    Edu     - to -     iAs

    iBe     - to -     Met

    Mic     - to -     Pow

    PSI     - to -     UUN

    VBr     - to -     Zya

    Fill out the Streaming List and companies in this business will contact you.

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