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Church webcast scalability and stability?
Posted: Tue Sep 22, 2020 9:33 pm
We have broadcast with the church webcast for stake conference for the past few years. We have had one broadcast in all that time without some hiccups or full out drops. Our Stake President is understandable wary of the service.
Our very last broadcast (in February) had no issues, but one win and six or so "losses" again isn't a great record.
With hundreds if not thousands of units about to start streaming regularly with the Church Webcast system, is it ready to take on the load and not have the issues of the past? There is a lot to like about the Church Webcast system, but I need to be able to assure my Stake President that there won't be the same issues we have experienced and are trying to forget.
Re: Church webcast scalability and stability?
Posted: Tue Sep 22, 2020 10:34 pm
The reviews from others have indicated that the current system is much better. I've done a couple of them and while I haven't watched the whole thing, I've heard no complaints.
Consider that part of the problem might have been getting the Teradek to work right. But since we're looking for low-cost alternative, not so many are going that route.
Re: Church webcast scalability and stability?
Posted: Wed Sep 23, 2020 5:08 am
I haven't had any issues with the current church webcast system.
I sort of had similar situation a 2 years ago with when I was called as the ASTS when the Stake Presidents in the regions having had bad experiences the webcast system dropping out and were wary of using it.
When I first tested the webcast system, I found that it wasn't the webcast system, but other factors effecting the webcast like the following:
1. The broadcast stake centre had extremely slow fix line internet, unstable internet connection and it didn't meet the minimum recommended upload speed to do any kind of a broadcast. I had to test a few mobile providers to see which one had the most stable upload internet connection. I then had to get a 4G hotspot (like the Netgear Nighthawk m2) that had an ethernet port so I could run a network cable to a window so I could get the best possible signal on the 4G hotspot as the stake centre was in the middle of a State Forest and the walls of the chapel were very think reducing any signal.
2. Once I sorted out the broadcast sites, I checked a few of the receiving chapels and found their internet wasn't stable enough to receive a webcast. I had to get them to use a mobile hotspot too.
3. The Teradek the stake centre had was faulty, locking up after a few minutes of broadcasting and dropping out. I did the firmware updates, but it still dropped out, so I just got a new Teradek which hasn't had any issues since.
4. I also had to do a few test to work out what the most stable Video Bitrate was for the upload speed I was getting out of the internet connection I was using. If I set the Video Bitrate too high and the upload speed couldn't handle it, the broadcast would stop.
For the chapels that have a fixed line internet connection that are stable enough to broadcast and receive a webcast, I like to have a backup 4G/5G mobile hotspot at the broadcast site, just incase the internet fails.
The other stake centres I've had to webcast from I like to go a few weeks before hand to do a full video/audio/internet system test since the system never got used every Sunday. For larger regional events, I event test weekly and then a few days leading up to the broadcast to ensure everything is working and to get our FM enough time to get any repairs done.
I've even had a situation where I tested the night before the webcast and found the mobile provider had an outage in the area and I had to switch to another mobile provider.
Most of the time when I've had receiving sites contact me saying they're dropping out during the broadcast, I've found they've left their chapel WIFI on or their internet was experiencing issues and they've had to switch over to using a mobile 4G internet connection.
For home bound members that have had drop outs, I've found it's too mainly their internet connection too that is the cause of the drop outs, either someone is downloading/uploading alot while they are trying to watch the webcast or their home WIFI modem/router is at the other end of the house and they have a weak WIFI signal. I either suggest they try clicking on the settings cog to lower the video quality and/or select the StabIty mode button, but I haven't had one that I couldn't resolve before the webcast started yet. If I do get one, my backup plan is to just call the home bound user's phone (using someone else's mobile phone so mine is still free to make contact with others) and they can listen to the meeting over the phone.
When I did my first webcast, we had no issues and haven't had any issues with the webcast system since. After about 2 or 3 successful regional webcasts, the Stake Presidents in my area have been more confident in doing webcast since I've worked out the internet issues.
I haven't started webcasting sacrament meeting yet in my Stake but have been preparing since the restrictions in March and have advised my Stake President of the chapels that would have fast enough and reliable speed to broadcast sacrament meeting or how to do it from home if their home internet is fast enough.
I would suggest to try to identify what's causing the dropping out issues, try recreating the dropouts by doing test webcasts and do all you can to try and work out the issues before a webcast. I even have another assistance technology specialist sitting watching and monitoring the webcast on a laptop next to me at each of the webcast meetings to ensure the webcast receiving rate on the portal doesn't drop too low or drop out and so I can jump straight onto any issues straight away before anyone notices.