Now Pages
If It's Not Live - Then It's Not NOW!
Sign Up!
Welcome to Now Pages
Saturday, September 23 2017 @ 02:25 AM CDT

The Internet Connection

Previous: Sound and Microphones - Next: PCs and Encoders

The key to any live streaming camera is having access to the internet of course.

The problem is there are so many, and different cost, ways to connect even a normal home or business to the internet that I can only highlight the needs and potential concerns here. You should check with your local vendors of internet services for their availability and prices.

Today, we use a basic stream definition of 350Kbps (kilo bits/second) as our guide. Most “high speed” internet connections today can send out this stream with some spare bandwidth left over. The typical ADSL connection specifies 500Kbps outbound (from you to the internet) and most cable modems (DOCSIS) connections provide at least this amount.

A 350Kbps stream running all the time for a month will use about 100 Gigabytes of network traffic.

This may be more than your typical home account allows (some cap at 80 around here, some as low as 15 Gigs) and anything over your plan’s maximum can be very expensive; we’ve seen rates as high as $30 per Gigabyte for such overages on wireless plans, and typical is $1 or more per Gigabyte on cable and ADSL lines it seems. Your ISP may have a different plan, or you may be able to get them to sponsor your camera if it is very popular, or they simply may not enforce the cap very hard until one day you get a big bill.

The options in dealing with this include both limiting the bandwidth to something less, and limiting the time the camera is on. See the section on cameras for how to limit the bandwidth and what the effects are.

Limiting the time the camera is on by turning it off at night (or during the day if it is night activities you’re interested in) should probably be automated in some fashion. This could be as simple as having a light-detecting switch power up/down some aspect of the network; the camera if it is an IP camera, or an Ethernet switch or router if you have an encoding computer separate from the camera. This allows the encoder to continue to run, but prevents the internet connection from getting out. In most cases the encoder computer will simply continue to retry connecting to the distribution server until the connection comes back on. On the other hand, turning off the computer can result in it not restarting properly when the power comes back on. At worst you’ll have to manually stop/start the stream yourself. See the section on Automation for ideas here.

Having access to the internet is one thing – getting it to where you need it may be an entirely different problem. In general you should keep to less than about 300 feet for Ethernet cable runs, and you may be limited by the use of Power over Ethernet to even less, as that is typically for distances up to about 100 feet, even though the standard calls for 100 meters (330 feet). You may be able to use consumer WiFi (802.11) wireless appliances to extend this, but it will depend very much on local conditions such as interference from other wireless users, total distance, and line of sight. See the section on location considerations for more on this.

Network Considerations

The whole idea is to connect your camera to the internet so others can view its video. In some instances you may be able to simply connect the camera (or its separate encoder box if it has one) directly to whatever modem/connection the local ISP provides, and through that connect it to the video distribution company’s servers. As time brings new products this will get to be a standard way, however most people will have their camera “inside” their local area network (LAN) and it will be only one of many devices that share that LAN before getting to the rest of the world.

Local Network Setup

When you have a live camera running, the network needs to be set up so the stream is not interfered with by other activity on it. Mostly this is not a problem if you have the newer 100 or 1000 Mbps (Gigabit) Ethernet switches/firewalls/routers and your PCs and the encoder all work at this speed, but if you have older equipment that is only 10Mbps you may have problems.

The older, 10Mbps equipment was created at a time when “full duplex” and “isolated collision domains” were not standard. They were “hubs” that simply allowed multiple connections to the same circuit, rather than “switches” that actually isolate each circuit from the others. Today’s switches and routers use integrated chips inside that “switch” the Ethernet frames rather than just “re-broadcast” them. The difference is that in the older and slower hub

 systems only one device was allowed to talk at any time (the others listened – and heard everything but only picked up packets destined for them), and if there was a “collision” (two devices tried to talk at the same time) then all the potential users of the network stopped for random times before trying again. This meant that the actual traffic on the network could be a small fraction of what it can be on today’s LANs where each link from a PC to a switch/router/firewall appliance can talk and listen at the same time (full duplex) and the switches can allow several conversations between their different ports to be carried on at the same time (no collisions)

So... if you have some of this old equipment it’s probably time to update. The newer units are compatible with PCs with older and slower ports and will increase the total LAN throughput even if the actual speed stays at 10Mbps. They’re not that expensive either.
Of course if you still have some of the really old, coaxial cable-based, Ethernet then it’s time to update even the port cards in the PCs – or start from scratch.

If you work at home like I do, and sometimes up/download large files, you may really want to isolate the camera from your work PC setup. You might consider getting a separate link to the ISP just for the camera. The alternative today is getting a faster link speed by either upgrading your service package (cable modems are choked in their setup – so it is only a setting by the ISP to speed them up) or new modem for ADSL that uses some newer technology to get double or more speed compared to the originals. Talk to your ISP.

Separate Network

This network setup is for a completely separate network from any you currently have. This may not be the case but will cover some things that apply in this case that would be left out otherwise. The setup is for remote administration.

The major reason for doing this type of setup is to remove the impact your own use of the internet might have on the performance of the stream out to the world. I have two different cable modems in my home, one for streams and one for my every-day work and pleasure use of the internet. Another reason (not the one in my case but yours may be different) is that the second modem, if used for the purpose of earning money (and your main one is not normally) might be a tax write-off, but check with your tax expert.

How you set up your network will depend on many things. The easiest is if the camera is IP capable and can be hooked directly to the public internet. This is not the best way today as it leaves the camera open to attack by the “bad uglies” (my designation for the crooks and nasty people online) on the public network, and regardless of how secure the account and password is, just the fact of the attacks can slow down the connection enough to impact the video quality.

A better way is to put the camera (or encoder) behind a hardware firewall and only let the necessary ports through to it – and even block those for any but the systems that must access it. Setting up a firewall is not the subject of this section but here are some general rules and settings you might pick and choose from when setting up port-forwarding and such:

give your IP camera and/or your encoder PC fixed IP addresses. This means that no matter what, they will always be at the same address in the future, so you can set up port forwarding to them and know it will work

I have a set of addresses I use so that I can move a camera or encoder around and not end up with two on the same address (the numbers here are the last number in the set of 4 in an IP address block definition – in this case the 192.168.1.x block that is common to many firewall routers – some others use 192.168.0.x):

  • .1 – the firewall itself – also the “Gateway” for the rest of the machines (some routers default to .254 as the gateway – if yours does then leave it, and chop that address off the list at the bottom so it is .201 to .253)
  • .2 to .19 – radio link units (see Distance section)
  • .20 to .29 – Servers or extra Encoder PCs
  • .30 to .99 – IP cameras
  • .100 to .150 – DHCP default as assigned by the router – where your laptop ends up when you plug it into the network
  • .151 to 200 – PC encoders
  • .201 to .254 – extras in case you run out of room in one of the other blocks


install VNC server (I use TightVNC) on your PC and set its port to 5900 (the default) and put on a good password.

Forward port 5900 to the PC’s address (for added “security by obscurity” you can set the VNC port number to something completely different in both cases – but note that you should stay away from those above 50,000 as that is where streaming video tends to hang out, and you might interfere with it at some point in the future.)

Note: do not forward the web port (80) to the camera. This seems a natural thing to do but if you do you’ll end up with many people trying to log on and control your camera. Better to do this by remotely logging on to the PC with VNC and using a browser on it to connect locally to the camera(s). This too is a bit of “security by obscurity” but it lowers the number of attacks your system will get, at least for now.

Depending on the camera you may forward port 540 (the RTSP port) or other streaming port(s) to its internal address. This will depend on the camera and whether it is directly compatible with the internet distribution host. Most currently are not.

There are two different setups for a live streaming camera: Camera connected to PC for encoding, and camera that encodes directly (the IP camera). Of these two, the camera connected to the PC is the easiest to work with, at least for now. See the section on cameras for more information.

Add to Existing Network

If you’re adding an IP camera or encoder to your existing network you need to understand the impact these might have on your overall internet access and vice versa.

The relatively large outbound data stream from the camera will slow your interaction with remote sites, and if you do something else on your normal web computer that also sends out large amounts of data, like sending out email with large attachments or uploading video or stills to a web site, that will interfere with the streaming video.

If you can, get your ISP to increase your outbound bandwidth. The latest ADSL modems can get up to 1 Mbps and cable modems can go higher. Around Vancouver the local cable company, Shaw, has a package with outbound at 5Mbps. Note of course that sometimes having faster outbound does not include more total traffic, so you still have to be concerned over the number of Gigabytes total your camera will send. Also, around Vancouver the local phone company (Telus) is rolling out IP-TV setups that increase the local speed up to 15Mbps - and you get to use this for your internet connection too.

You should still set the internal IP addresses of your camera/encoder to fixed numbers so you can always know where to set your browser to check on camera, etc. - and you can still use something like VNC to log onto the encoder if you put it in another part of the house for instance. We tend to run our encoder PCs “headless” - no keyboard, mouse or monitor. See the section on PCs for tips on setting up the BIOS to deal with this.

Tag: internet ip address encoder link speed 350kbps adsl cable docsis isp vnc tightvnc modem router firewall ethernet switch

Story Options


Trackback URL for this entry:

No trackback comments for this entry.


Read the Digital Rag

There was a problem reading this feed (see error.log for details).

Auto Translations

  • Arabic
  • Bulgarian
  • Catalan
  • Chinese Simplified
  • Chinese Traditional
  • Croatian
  • Czech
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • Filipino
  • Finnish
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Hebrew
  • Hindi
  • Indonesian
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Latvian
  • Lithuanian
  • Norwegian
  • Polish
  • Portugese
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Serbian
  • Slovak
  • Slovenian
  • Spanish
  • Swedish
  • Ukrainian
  • Vietnamese