Document: Network Requirements

Network

More is better… but lower latency is best, especially for video conferences with remote participants.

Restream has guidance for streaming to YouTube, Facebook Live, and Twitch (dated 25 June, 2020) that boils down to an upload speed of 8Mbps (megabits per second) for a single 1080p stream @ 30 frames per second. These are for high quality video streams.

Zoom recommends 3Mbps for 1080p video conferencing; BlueJeans peaks at 4.5Mbps, Jitsi suggests up to 5Mbps. This would be in addition to the above streaming requirements.

Optimally a dedicated network connection would be used for streaming/conferencing. This also adds an implicit backup/redundant upstream connection via the ‘regular’ upstream connection.

Practically, all streaming and conferencing will be done on connections shared with other users.

It would be beneficial if the outbound router is capable of traffic shaping to prioritize video conferencing/streaming traffic.

As well, all locations where the streaming cart will be moved to, and any locations that broadcast NDI streams should have gigabit ethernet available. This includes presenter podiums, project workbenches, etc.

Some devices (eg cell phones used as mobile cameras, WiFi enabled action cameras) will require WiFi. Good quality WiFi access points are a must.

It would be beneficial if all streaming related traffic is on it’s own, or could be on it’s own networking equipment- either physical, or virtually via vlans.

(If separate cable runs and dedicated WiFi APs are possible then a very simple way is to bring both the streaming and “everything else” networks to a switch, which is then connected to the external network provider- ie a switch with three connections: internet, streaming network, everything else. If there are issues while streaming, “everything else” can be easily and quickly disconnected with a single cable.)

As separate/virtual (VLAN) networking may be required, investing in business/enterprise grade networking equipment is recommended. These units usually perform better, last longer, and offer capabilities not available on home networking equipment. Business grade equipment are often also configured by a single network management application. These are more effort to setup initially than a home router- but make future changes quick and reliable, including managing firmware updates to items in the network.

A suggested supplier to investigate is Ubiquiti- they have extremely powerful WiFi access points, and smaller edge routers that cost less than some home equipment. A lot of their equipment can be powered over the same ethernet cable as used for data. (Important warning- some of their equipment doesn’t use the official Power Over Ethernet (POE) specification and there is potential for equipment damage if you plug non-Ubiquiti equipment into a Ubiquiti POE cable.)

Key Observations

  • Outgoing (upload) bandwidth needs to be 8Mbps (megabits per second) per 1080p stream @ 30fps + 5Mbps for a simultaneous video conference. This gives a minimum of ~15Mbps upload, but preferably 20+Mbps (two streams + video conference.) It is assumed that available download speeds will be multiple of this. In 2020, these requirements are meet by all of the ~$100/month residential plans.
  • Hardline ethernet cabling is needed at every location the streaming cart or NDI source is recommended. Cat 5e is sufficient recommended- it supports up to 1Gbps and is the most cost effective- both for the cable and networking equipment. See here for a reference on decoding ethernet cabling categories.
  • Business grade networking equipment: eg an edge router that supports traffic shaping, several 8 port switches (with some daisy chaining), and WiFi APs that support multiple bands. All must support VLANs. POE would be advantageous.