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Video Streaming Need To Know: Part 1- Encoding, Bit Rates and Errors

Introduction

It seems like consumer networking companies are as determined to promote 2.4 GHz wireless products as the solution for in-home video streaming as Hollywood is to prevent its precious bits from escaping into the wild. But since DRM so far hasn't put much of a crimp into getting networkable video onto hard drives, it seems like all a geek needs to do is buy some gear and be watching wireless video in no time.

For some time, I've been critical of networking manufacturers' claims about 2.4 GHz wireless products as a solution for streaming video. Since the 2.4 GHz band is also used by microwave ovens, cordless phones and other products that don't speak Wi-Fi, the chances of interference are pretty good. And if non Wi-Fi devices aren't enough of a problem, just add in the problem of too many wireless LANs competing for too little bandwidth in too small an area. The result is that many folks who took the WLAN plunge can hardly get data tasks like web, email, chat and gaming to work reliably, let alone a high bit rate real-time application such as video to work.

But I have to admit that I haven't had any first-hand experience on how hard it is to get wireless video to work in high interference environments. So I set out to get some hard data that would really blow apart the vision of using the 2.4 GHz band for video streaming that manufacturers have been trying to get to dance in consumers' heads. What I found, however, is that manufacturers might not be as full of it as I had thought. But I get ahead of myself... Let's start by looking as why an overcrowded wireless band is not a good thing.

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