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Video Streaming vs. Real-time Streaming - And How Accelerated Data Transfer Can Help

by Seth Noble |  Blog Sep 13, 2019

Data Expedition, Inc. CEO Seth Noble, PhD, explains the difference between video streaming and real-time streaming and in which application accelerated data transport can increase performance.

When moving content across networks, there are actually two very different ways of doing it. One is streaming, where you're moving data in real time. Streaming involves packets going across the network that represent an event that happened at a specific point in time, and you want that event to be processed at the other end. Real-time video, such as for live sports, is a good example of that.

Streaming, however, is very different than file transfer. With streaming, the data is being moved at a fixed rate. You've got a certain number of megabits per second that's being generated, and the challenge is to make sure it gets to the other side at that specific rate.

With file transfer though, you want to go as fast as you can. And that speed is expected to change. You have to be able to adapt to network changes and always maintain that top-of-the-line performance even as that line moves up and down.

Our transport technology is focused on the data transport aspect, not the streaming aspect. And this can be a point of confusion for people. There are technologies out there that are very good at streaming. For example, Zixi's technology, which minimizes latency and jitter for those fixed bitstreams. We do something different though because we're focused on maximizing utilization and highly variable bitrates that would, in general, be faster than the bitstream, but also keep up to date as the network changes from moment to moment.

Where these two areas overlap though, is when you have consumer video being viewed at home. Typically, that's not streamed live. It's actually a series of files being downloaded in near real time. Even though that's often referred to as video streaming, it's not real-time streaming. And that's an area where our technology can help. For example, when you're watching Netflix or Hulu and you get that buffering, what that really means is that the data that's being downloaded representing the next minute of two of video is starting to run out and it's having trouble catching up. That's certainly an area where MTP/IP can help because you're really just downloading small video file segments.

For video streaming of the true real-time variety, there are other people out there like Zixi that do it very well. And of course, we're happy to partner with any of them.