Tips

Do Not Live Stream On WIFI

If you’re live streaming from a mobile phone or tablet, you’ll be utilizing a wireless internet connection out of necessity.

For the rest of you, I can’t stress this enough:

Never use WIFI.

There is no scenario in which this is acceptable. You jeopardize your entire show by relying upon WIFI.

Frankly, I’m surprised this has to be said at all. Consider how many times you’ve struggled with a bad WIFI connection. The signal strength is too low, or you’re sharing the connection with too many people, or you can’t even connect for seemingly no reason. The technology has become much better than it was 10+ years ago, but it’s still commonplace to be frustrated by shoddy WIFI.

Boromir knows

It’s said, “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” You can have a great event—successfully marketed to thousands—a beautiful website to host it on, the best production team in town, top-of-the-line cameras, and a quality CDN delivering your stream to your audience… and it will count for nothing if your computer drops its WIFI connection.

Do not let anyone convince you that WIFI is a good idea.

I once had a show at a performing arts center. This was a big event at an impressive venue—hundreds in attendance and thousands watching online. In our pre-production meeting, I met the tech director—a long-time veteran, very knowledgeable—and told him our needs. This included an ethernet connection at the control booth. He told me there was WIFI coming from a router backstage and asked if that would be sufficient.

No. No, it would not be sufficient.

You’re only as strong as your weakest link.

I was a little shocked that there wasn’t already an ethernet run to the control booth, but I was to learn that no one had asked for one at this venue before. Either no one had ever live streamed there or no one had live streamed properly. Whatever the case, I made the point that an ethernet connection would be absolutely essential. The tech director said he would make it happen, and he did. No fuss.

But I had to ask, and that’s the point: a fatal mistake in this business is assuming that a tech guy knows all tech. The reality is, guys like this specialize in sound and lighting. They’ve been doing it for decades. But that does not make them IT or network specialists. They don’t necessarily know the first thing about computers. In my experience, more often than not, they know nothing at all. It’s not their wheelhouse.

Always ask for ethernet, especially at a proper venue where it’s someone’s job to provide you technical assistance.

This is not a big ask. There’s a router somewhere in the building. It’s simply a matter of stringing an ethernet line from there to wherever you’re operating. If it’s a long run, there are long cables for sale. If it’s a really long run, someone may have to make an ethernet cable by buying a spool of cabling, RJ45 connectors, and a crimping tool. If they can’t do this in-house, they can hire someone. If they don’t want to hire someone, you should hire someone. Contacting a local computer shop would be a good place to start.

Or teach yourself how to do it—I did!

Hopefully it doesn’t come to extraordinary measures. But if that’s your situation, that’s your situation. Do what you have to do. Don’t start thinking, “Maybe I can get away with WIFI for this one show.”

No, you can’t.

Don’t do it. Don’t be the person who ruined the whole show.

If your connection goes down, you will have an angry audience. You will have wasted a great deal of time and money. You will have damaged your client’s reputation, as well as your own. You may lose that client and never get him back.

Just say “no” to WIFI. WIFI is for your home. It has no place in a professional setting.

In a future article, I will write about network management considerations, as well as confirming the speed and reliability of your connection.

Until then, have a great show!

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