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How WebRTC Impacts Stream Resiliency for Contribution and Distribution

Strategizing for low-latency streaming at scale and choosing WebRTC or another protocol means juggling multiple priorities and assessing stream resiliency on both the contribution and distribution ends. Allan McLennan, President, 2G Digital Post Optimization, discusses these issues with Ryan Jespersen, Director of Product Strategy, Dolby.io, and Evan Statton, Sr. Principal Solutions Architect, M&E, AWS, in this clip from Streaming Media Connect.

McLennan asks Jespersen, “What technologies are you using to help develop [very low latencies] within Dolby?”

Jespersen says that when the Adobe Flash player was phased out as a distribution delivery system, “It left this huge gap in the industry for things that we had become accustomed to, which is about five-second glass-to-glass latency with RTMP delivery to the Flash player.” However, he also does not believe that WebRTC is becoming a “de facto standard” overall but that it is more of a standard for specific use cases. “If you don't care about data resiliency, meaning you don't care if there are some packets that are dropped both on contribution and on distribution, then WebRTC is probably the best thing for you,” he says. “If you're trying to deliver something that truly is as close to zero glass-to-glass latency because everything you're doing by default is over User Datagram Protocol (UDP).”

Jespersen breaks the situation down into two core discussions: the contribution side and the distribution side. “[On the] contribution side of things where most people do care about there being some resiliency…we developed WebRTC and added the WebRTC HTTP Ingestion Protocol (WHIP) standardization so that we could deliver on a contribution side over UDP by default. The second piece of that is you've actually seen the mass adoption of that with what's happened with OBS Studio.”

On the distribution side, Jespersen says, “If you're trying to get under a second, there is nothing. I don't care what anyone says, there's nothing in the HTTP world or in the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) world that is delivering anything resiliently in production under a second. And Amazon IVS is a great product. THEOlive is an amazing product. There are some amazing products out there, but they're not getting under a second. So if you're trying to do something that's truly glass-to-glass under that, the only thing to do is to default back to UDP and default back to a protocol that's built on that, which is WebRTC.”

However, Statton makes a key correction about a recent update. “Ryan, thank you for saying all that,” he tells Jespersen. “One minor correction about IVS. They just launched WebRTC support just a few weeks ago, so now they're down under a second. But only for the reasons that you said.”

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