Live Church Service Stream Using 3G Cellular Data

We have been streaming our Sunday morning church services live on the internet for a while now without any issues using the internet connection provided by the educational school where we rent the premises.
Last Sunday we encountered a problem where we had normal internet access for browsing the net, but a few minutes before the service started when we hit the broadcast button on Ustream producer, we hit a wall as it would not connect to the streaming server! We had not changed anything our end, so I had to call the school IT support who said he had been on holiday, and was not aware of any changes on their end. To cut a long story short, something has changed either on the firewall settings at the school, ISP or Ustream and due to red tape, this wasn't going to be solved in a week, so I needed to come up with a backup plan as there was no way our Pastor would accept another Sunday service not being streamed online.

ustream producer streaming church worship

I knew the problem was firewall related as I could stream from my home ADSL broadband connection, so the only option left was to find a way of using a 3G mobile phone data connection. I had a spare Huawei Y300 android cellphone and a PAYG SIM with about 220MB of data allowance so used the Wednesday evening service which we did not stream to test the tethering of the 3G connection from the phone to MacBook laptop. To reduce the amount data consumed I had to change the streaming profile to the lowest quality:

mobile streaming profile settings

Despite this low setting, I used almost 200MB of data to stream the 1hr sermon that night, atleast I knew it would work on Sunday, so I bought a 1GB data package for £7.50 from UK mobile phone provider Giffgaff ready for the next church service.

Here is a screenshot of my data allowance at the beginning of the service:

giffgaff 1GB data allowance

After the service which ran a bit longer than the normal 2.5hrs this how much allowance I had left on my account streaming using the low quality mobile profile shown earlier.

500GB mobile cell data allowance

So you now have an idea of what amount of data allowance you will need to stream an event using a laptop tethered to a mobile phone with Ustream Producer.
Because the location was not changing, there were no connection issues related to cell tower hopping and for those of you wondering what type of bandwith I had available, here is a screenshot of a speedtest conducted using the GiffGaff 3G mobile network in London:

Giffgaff 3g speed test

This bandwidth is adequate enough since clients will be connecting to Ustream distribution servers and not my laptop.
if the issue with the school firewall is not resolved within the week and I need to continue streaming our services using a mobile phone connection, then I will be getting an unlimited data plan from Three network in the UK which allows tethering. Another advantage of this plan is that it runs on a faster network, so I will be able to go back to the higher quality streaming settings to give a better viewer experience.


kodako said...

Awesome, all i've ever known is streaming low quality over 3G here in Ghana, but i look forward to getting higher uplink speed here.

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