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When Will IPV6 Multicast make Live Sports Webcasting Cheaper?

Most people around the world have been glued to their TVs watching the 2014 FIFA World Cup. I was probably one of the millions that followed the game online via Univision Deportes or ESPN online streaming in the United States. Sports Streaming Services are normally gated because Sports Casters have to incur huge costs to stream high quality content with a reasonable amount of latency. Even if you are watching the greatest Steaming Online you will notice that the Feed is seconds behind the free-to-air broadcasting because of IP Network latency. So why does Streaming cost so much? Well that’s because Bandwidth is expensive. It is important to be specific about bandwidth pricing by saying Upload Bandwidth is what’s really expensive. That is it costs the provider of Data far more to Upload Data than for the Consumer of Data to download the data and that is virtually true in all countries of the world. In fact Download Speeds are also in order of magnitude faster than Upload Speed and you can gauge your Upload and Download speeds by visiting site like SpeedTest.net.

Let’s assume you want to watch your sports in 1080p quality. That means your screen has to render 1920x1080 pixels. That is 2,025 KB worth of Data for each frame of picture. Normally in 1080p you are rendering 60 Frames per Second which means 121,500 KB of Data is what it takes to stream 1 second of Streaming for One Customer and that is not even including the Audio. Thankfully we have Audio and Video Codecs which compress this Data to something like 1/100 th of its actual size. But even with Audio and Video compression 1080p steaming would still require 12 KB/s worth of Data to be sent to each streaming Customer. For instance for a soccer game this would come to something like 86,400 KB per game (90 minutes, 120 minutes including highlights and Halftime.). That is 84 MB per Customer just for the Video part of the game. That may not sound like a whole of Data but once you multiply that by millions of Customers that want to watch a game simultaneously it really starts adding up.

IPV6:

So where does IPV6 Come in? IPV6 is better known for its Greater Capacity of Address Space compared to IPV4. That’s because and IPV6 Address is 16 bytes vs its predecessor IPV4 which was only 4 bytes. The Greater Address Space is what was the truly calling behind IPV6 inception. However, a great feature of IPV6 is widespread support for UDP Multicast which is the ideal protocol for live streaming of any sporting event. Although IPV6 is fully supported throughout level2 and level3 Internet Backbones, it remains very rare inside businesses or homes internal networks. It is worth noting that all PCs post Windows Vista are fully capable of supporting IPV6. However the issue still remains that most ISPs hand out of Cable or DSL Modems to customers that only assign IPV4 addresses to users.

UDP is ideal for sports casting because UDP does not guarantee delivery of Datagram packets which makes it lightweight. This is ok because there are so many frames per second in a sports casting that if you missed one or two Frames your video quality would still be an acceptable. UDP multicast is even greater because the server only has to send the data once and the IP network automatically ensures that the data is delivered to all nodes that subscribed to that UDP channel.