Streaming media can be accessed anytime, everywhere. Understanding the technology will benefit everyone personally; and for those that deliver connectivity, professionally. 

To stream media, all that is needed is a broadband connection and a streaming device or software app. A streaming player does just that: it connects to the internet, accesses content provided by online services and delivers the streaming media to the playback device.

The two most popular types of streaming are “on demand” and “live streaming.” On demand starts when requested, like when you watch a movie on Netflix. Live streaming is streaming when it’s happening, and can be watched in real time or not — like Facebook Live. 

With the expansive growth of streaming media, listening and viewing choices come in all sizes. A multitude of devices are available to access streaming media, including media player components or small add-on media devices such as the Roku or Amazon Firestick, and integrated entertainment systems. These systems range from the popular Sonos stand-alone audio system to gaming consoles, to high-end A/V components with streaming services included within the hardware.  

Online streaming services are essentially content providers, and options offering unique collections of media grow every year. With the use of online services continually expanding, the issues of network bandwidth and content protection have come to the forefront. Bandwidth is like the flow of water; the larger the pipe opening, the more water can flow. The more bandwidth of the Internet connection, the faster data can flow. Speed is measured in bytes per second, typically shown as MB/s, megabytes per second. Internet service providers offer levels of service at varying prices with minimum guaranteed speeds. Watching multiple streams at once, or streaming 4k video, requires good bandwidth. 

Appropriate network equipment is critical. Component specifications for the router, modem, wireless access point and switches identify minimum network speeds and must deliver the speed required for consistent streaming and media quality. 


Recommended Broadband Download Speeds per Stream

Lowest required speed

.5 Mbps

Quality audio

1.5 Mbps

Standard Definition, SD, video

3 Mbps

720p and 1080p  High Definition video

5 – 8 Mbps

4K, Ultra HD, video viewing

25 Mbps


When material is copyrighted, the content belongs to that individual or company and copyright laws most likely apply, restricting the ability to record or save the media, but licensing allows for its use. Content protection has led to new technologies around media such as copyright protection encryption where playback of the content by the streaming component must comply. To address this issue, streaming providers have contracts with various music sources, bands and labels, paying for the right to broadcast their music. Consumers pay for the right to listen to that music by using a subscription service. 

At minimum, make sure your offerings are streaming-compatible. When providing or supporting networks, ensure the broadband bandwidth and network component specifications are sufficient to support consistent streaming. Be your customers’ advocate when it comes to streaming, not the cause of their frustration. Consider leveraging streaming expertise in your business and making these capabilities part of your marketing message.