Ultra-low latency video streaming is used in the broadcasting and telecommunications industries to describe the delay between video capturing and playback. In live streaming, ultra-low latency is the delay between the moment an event is captured and the moment it is displayed on a screen. It is measured in seconds or milliseconds. The lower the streaming latency, the better the user experience will be.
Several factors can affect latency, including the type of camera used, the type of codec used, the bitrate of the stream, and the distance between the camera and the viewer.
In this guide, we will focus on the causes of video lagging and how to minimize latency in your video streaming solution.
What is Latency in Video Streaming?
Video streaming services have become increasingly popular in recent years as they offer a convenient way to watch movies and TV shows without downloading and storing them on a device. However, one of the potential drawbacks of streaming video is latency, which is the delay between when the content is sent and when it is received. Latency can cause problems with synchronization, particularly if users watch a live stream like video conferencing events. It can also make it challenging to rewind or fast-forward through a video—the lower the latency, the better the streaming video quality. However, decreasing latency often requires more bandwidth and more powerful hardware, which can be expensive. As a result, many video streaming providers strive to balance latency and cost.
What Causes Video Latency?
Several factors can contribute to latency in video streaming. The core issues are described below:
- Poor Internet Connection: One of the most common is the internet connection itself. If the connection is slow or unstable, it can cause the video to lag or buffer. This is often due to a lack of bandwidth.
- Low-Quality Hardware: Another potential cause of latency is low-quality hardware. It includes the video camera, encoder, and decoder. If any of these components are not powerful enough, it can lead to latency, and the audience faces problems enjoying real-time streaming.
- Weak Encoding Process: The encoding process is responsible for compressing the video data to send the video signals more efficiently over the internet. If this process is not done properly, it can lose video quality and increase latency.
- Distance: The distance between the audience and the video source can also affect latency. The further the distance, the longer it will take for the signal to reach the viewer. That’s why it can often delay streaming video from another country.
- Server Load: The number of users watching the video and the server load can also affect latency. If the server is overloaded, it can cause the video to lag.
- Streaming Protocol Issues: The streaming protocol can also cause latency. If the protocol is not optimized for dynamic adaptive streaming, it can lead to delays.
- CDN Issues: A content delivery network (CDN) is a computer system to delivers content to viewers. The CDN not working properly can cause video streaming latency. So, use the best CDNs for video streaming.
How does Latency Affect Streaming Video?
Latency can cause many problems with streaming video, including:
Synchronization Issues: One of the most common problems is that high latency can cause the video and audio to be out of sync. This is because the audio signals send faster than the video signal. As a result, the audio will often arrive before the video, which can cause problems with lip-syncing and enjoying real-time video streaming.
Buffering: Another common issue is that latency can cause the video to buffer or pause while it loads. This can be frustrating for viewers, as they must wait for the video to catch up. The audience may quit the video in between and never return to it.
Low Video Quality: In some cases, latency can cause the video quality to suffer. This is because the video signal may be compressed more than needed to reduce latency. As a result, the video may appear pixelated or blurry.
Rewinding and Fast-Forwarding: Latency can also make it difficult to rewind or fast-forward through a video. This is because the video data must travel back to the viewer before starting again.
Is Ultra-low Latency Good for Streaming?
Ultra-low latency is often seen as the holy grail of video streaming. This is because it can help solve many of the problems caused by latency, such as synchronization issues, buffering, and rewinding. In addition, ultra-low latency streaming can provide a better user experience, as viewers do not have to wait long for the video to start.
However, ultra-low video latency comes at a cost. More powerful streaming hardware is often required to achieve such ultra-low latency, which can be expensive. In addition, ultra-low latency often requires more bandwidth, which can also be costly. As a result, many video streaming providers must balance the cost of ultra-low latency with its benefit.
How to Ensure A Ultra-Low Latency Video Streaming?
There are a number of ways to ensure low latency streaming solution, including:
Improving the Internet Connection: One of the best ways to reduce the latency of live streams is to improve the internet connection. A video streamer can do this by increasing the bandwidth or using a more stable connection. A stable internet connection can ensure uninterrupted live video streaming.
Using High-Quality Hardware: Another way to reduce latency is to use high-quality hardware, such as a powerful camera, ultra-low latency video encoder, and decoder. This can help reduce the time it takes to compress and decompress the video data.
Improving the Encoding Process: Another way to improve latency is to improve the encoding process. This can be done using a more efficient codec or reducing the frame rate.
Reducing the Distance: Another way to reduce latency is to reduce the distance between the viewer and the video source. This can be done by streaming from a closer server or by using a CDN.
Adaptive Streaming Protocols: Another way to reduce latency is to use adaptive streaming protocols, such as low latency HLS, DASH, and WebRTC. These low latency streaming protocols can help reduce the time it takes to buffer the video.
We can sum up that various techniques can be employed to improve the internet connection, including high-quality hardware, encoding process, adaptive streaming protocols, and so on, to achieve ultra-low latency.
Since Castr uses advanced streaming technologies, it provides an ultra-low latency streaming service with affordable pricing. Our multi-CDN infrastructure ensures that your live stream is delivered with low latency to viewers worldwide.