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How to Improve Bandwidth for Recording Smoothly Online

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How to Improve Bandwidth for Recording Smoothly Online

Whenever you're recording a podcast or other remote content with guests online, bandwidth (or internet speed) is a critical piece of the puzzle. We're going to give you the details on:

  • What bandwidth actually is
  • The difference between upload and download speeds
  • The kinds of internet you might have at your home or office
  • Some tips for recording online content if you're on the road or in a hotel

Plus when you use Riverside, we have tools to help you overcome lower inconsistent bandwidth when you record.

What is Bandwidth?

The terms bandwidth and internet speed can be used interchangeably. It refers to how fast your internet connection is, and that's broken up into two different numbers:

  1. Your download speeds
  2. Your upload speeds

If you'd like to test your bandwidth speeds, we recommend using a website SpeedTest. You can run it in any web browser, or you can even download an application to your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Download Speeds

After you get your final numbers, your download number is how fast your internet connection can pull data from the internet to your device.

Let’s put that in another way. If you are streaming content from YouTube, watching a movie or TV show on your streaming box, or recording with someone online: download speed will tell you how well you can pull that content to your machine and view it live.

Upload Speeds

The upload speed is how fast your internet connection can push data or video content up to the internet and to others that you're recording online.

If you're going to upload a video to YouTube or to a cloud service like Dropbox, all of that is using your upload speeds. When you're doing an online recording, your upload speed refers to how quickly your internet can take your video and audio and push it up to the internet for your guests and co-hosts to see on their end.

Coaxial Internet Providers

There are two major kinds of internet providers that you'll find around the world. One is a cable or coaxial internet provider. This uses the old TV style cable called “coax” to generate pretty good download speeds via a cable. This can go even up to a thousand megabits per second, which is very fast and plenty for online recording.

However, upload speeds for coax are often restricted to as low as 20 megabits per second. This is relatively slow compared to fiber, but is still plenty for an online recording if you have 15 to 20 megabit upload speeds.

Fiber Internet Providers

Only select areas offer fiber internet at this time. The upload and download speeds with fiber are typically close to matching. You can get 1GB or even 2GB service, which would be 2000 megabits up and down. That amount of bandwidth would be plenty for an online recording, but do keep in mind (especially when you're recording in your home) that other devices and users on your network can also pull bandwidth.

If someone's streaming video games on a console and another is trying to download large files from another computer, all of that pulls on your bandwidth allocation. Trying to do an online recording in your office could be affected by those other devices when recording at home. If you're able to plug a physical ethernet cable from your router or modem to your computer, that will provide the most consistent and fastest speeds available.

Using Mesh WiFi

If you're in a home and you have a wifi network, try to be as close to the wifi router as possible. If you find the bandwidth connection is unstable when you're trying to do an online recording, you might want to invest in a mesh wifi network. This might be an Eero or other brand where you'll use 2 to 3 different wifi access points around the house to spread the internet, even if the source of the internet is in an office or living room far away from where you need to record. A mesh wifi network can spread that signal and help you get a better bandwidth result.

If you plan to upgrade your wifi system soon, we recommend looking for a WiFi 6 router. That is one of the newer standards when it comes to wireless internet. Many modern devices support WiFi 6, and it'll give you the fastest bandwidth feeds possible over wireless connections.

Solutions for bandwidth issues during recording

If you find you have lower bandwidth than you expect, or you're having an issue with a live call in your Riverside studio: we have a new feature that will help you still get high quality video and audio recording.

Low Data Mode

When you’re in the studio (even during a recording), you can see this question pop up in the sidebar:

“Is your internet affecting the flow of your call?”

If you expand that window, you'll see a toggle for “Low Data Mode” for all. When Low Data Mode is enabled, it will drop the quality of the live call, but try to keep it more even and consistent with fewer stutters and breaks. But the audio and video being recorded for every participant is still local on their device in high quality. You'll have access to all separate recordings and high quality video and audio once the call ends.

This toggle only affects the live call quality to help it go more smoothly and cause fewer delays and interruptions. If you're having issues with low bandwidth and stuttery calls at home, in the office, or especially when traveling, try Low Data Mode to help the calls flow more evenly.

Recording in the office

If you plan to record in a work or office environment, there are different challenges you might experience with bandwidth. Some office or company wifi networks will restrict certain IP addresses or domains that could make recording a challenge.

The first step would be to talk to the IT team at your company and discuss what limitations there might be on the bandwidth and if they can open up those restrictions for your devices.

If there is an office room or area where you can connect ethernet directly to your computer, that's always preferred.

And if all those fails in an office environment, if you can go near a window and have good cellular coverage, you can try using a hotspot from your mobile device to your computer.

Recording while traveling

If you're gonna record a show or podcast and you're traveling, wifi networks can be notoriously bad. The first hurdle is called captive networks, meaning when you try to connect to a wifi network at a hotel, you're required to put in a username or login and room number and password, and then you're able to access the internet.

Oftentimes, that captive network will reengage after a set amount of time. If you're connected to hotel wifi and you've recorded for 20 minutes using a Riverside studio, the hotel wifi may decide to kick you off because it doesn't see active browsing. That can be a real issue when you're trying to record an online podcast.

If you have no other choice but to record in the hotel room, contact the front desk. They might be able to contact the IT team for the hotel and open up your room and your device specifically to record without those kinds of restrictions.

Secondly, if you have good cellular service in the hotel room, hot-spotting is an option. This can often find work much better than using the hotel room wifi. If you're going to use your phone and mobile hotspot for an online recording, make sure it is plugged into power so it won't run out of battery in the middle of the call. Try to keep it near a window where cellular service will likely be better than further into the room.

Try not to use your phone while you're hot-spotting to your computer or other tablet device for an online recording.

Then if all else fails, you can try to find a local coffee shop or cafe that has wifi without those captive network restrictions.

If you're using Riverside to record your content, try Low Data Mode. This might even drop some of the video feeds for your online guests or other co-hosts to optimize for bandwidth. But rest assured that they're still being recorded in high-quality video and audio, and you'll have access to all those recordings as soon as the call is over.

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