Video over Wireless Networks – Another Element of Unpredictability
Embracing video to enhance unified communications within the enterprise presents network challenges. Embracing video while at the same time pushing forward with wireless first strategy adds another level of complexity and unpredictability. This blog gives some guidance on streaming video over wireless networks.
Unlike the typical data traffic on the enterprise wireless network, the real-time nature of video makes is particularly sensitive to uneven bandwidth capacity which can result in buffering and low video quality. Since 802.11 wireless technologies operate within an unlicensed wireless spectrum, video over Wi-Fi must also contend with adjacent and co-channel congestion – adding a further barrier to the viewer experience.
So what can you do to decrease the likelihood of complaints flooding into the UC team every time there is a live webcast or launch of a training video?
Ensuring wireless access points and routers support the latest wireless standards will help immensely with the video experience your users will have on your LAN. Newer standards such as 802.11ac support higher bandwidth rates and incorporate features such as beaming, where the signal is focused to the actual location os the device/s lo rather than fanning out broadly (read more here).
Hive Streaming operates mostly at the application layer, so we do not have direct insight into the wireless access point. But we do monitor general congestion in the network with a delay-based algorithm – so we can automatically detect which Sites or Subnets are struggling and automatically find the least congested routes in the network. Hive Insights also tracks stream performance down to the viewer level and can identify the wireless NIC in use – allowing the IT admin to isolate bandwidth and hardware issues.
Hive also has a number of optimizations in place to provide a stable stream into a Wi-Fi network. For example, wired endpoints are favored for retrieving the video from the source, assuming there is connectivity at the site between Wired and Wireless networks. We can also trim bitrates by office location. For example, Hive can enforce a policy in a Wi-Fi-only site or subnet to only allow the lowest of multiple video bitrates offered for the event.
Hive Streaming has several large customers running latest/greatest Wi-Fi (i.e. 802.11ac) and they stream large events with no problems to large quantities of viewers on Wi-Fi subnets. We also operate well over older networks but the latest WIFI does help. Some customers with older Wi-Fi technologies struggle – but they’d face the same challenges with other enterprise video distribution solutions.
We recommend our customers deploy the Hive Client and run a “Silent Test” in which Hive simulates a live video event on the network and captures all of the statistics. This will identify the trouble spots before the event, allowing us to deploy config changes and optimize the network before the event.