web analytics

Problems with Radio Stream

This topic below was written by the guy who designed Scanner Cast!  Please read .

I regularly struggle to explain this to folks who aren’t network savvy: Forwarding a real-time, constant, stream of data from your home computer over the internet to a server is a very complex, tricky, thing. You need to expect issues. In fact, it’s a wonder that it works at all.

Your feed software (such as ScannerCast, Edcast/Oddcast, or whatever) forwards at least 2 packets every second from your system to the RR server. Every packet must arrive, and it must arrive in a timely manner, or your connection will “drop.”

If you’re connecting your computer to your home network with a wireless connection you’re just asking for problems. Wireless is fine for occasional use, but you’re just plain lucky if you can maintain a 24×7 connection over wireless. If you’re sending your feed over wireless, one of the best things you can do is get a hard-wired connection.

Leaving your home network, if you’re on a cable modem: Your internet connection bandwidth is shared with all your neighbors. If just one of your neighbors fires-up a download from NetFlix, your connection speed will be affected.

If you’re on a DSL connection: You connection bandwidth is also shared, but it’s shared at your Internet Service Provider’s “hub” (the POP). It always makes me giggle when I hear small phone companies offer 20Mbps DSL to their customers… when the whole service provider might only have a total of 50Mbps or 100Mbps connection to the rest of the internet.

Problems aren’t restricted to your home and your ISP, either. It gets worse as you go along the internet. There are no fewer than 12 “hops” between my house and the RR servers. That means there are 12 individual systems that need to handle every packet I forward to RR in a timely manner. If just one of those systems gets busy, bogged down, or one of THEIR connections experiences congestion, my connection can be dropped.

Look… your cable or phone company probably makes your internet connection sound terrific. And when surfing the web or downloading an occasional movie, it probably works great, too. But home internet connections aren’t really designed to support a constant flow of traffic. They work, but they also have “issues.” Business connections, where they need dedicated, continuous, traffic to flow to/from the internet, are very different than home connections.

That’s why a dedicated 3Mbps service at work (2 T1 lines) costs about $2,000 per month — and my 50Mbps (more than 15 times as fast) Comcast (cable modem) connection costs only $125 per month (and that’s supposedly for “business” grade service).

You see… there’s a lot to it, really.