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Can you use a 4g router to stream?

Essentially yes, But and it's a big but, there are a lot of defining factors that determine if you can or can't. In this article we will dive into the world of 4G routers and how they can enable streaming and a lot more.  So what are some of the pros and cons of using […]

Essentially yes, But and it's a big but, there are a lot of defining factors that determine if you can or can't. In this article we will dive into the world of 4G routers and how they can enable streaming and a lot more. 

So what are some of the pros and cons of using 4G to stream? 

Pros: 

  1. Mobility and Flexibility:
  • Enables streaming from any location with a strong 4G signal, allowing flexibility in choosing the setup location within the church.
  1. Quick Setup and Installation:
  • Simple and quick installation compared to fixed broadband, making it convenient for temporary or mobile setups.
  1. Reliability in Remote Areas:
  • Ideal for churches in rural or remote areas where traditional internet infrastructure may be limited or unreliable.
  1. Redundancy for Backup:
  • Acts as a reliable backup in case of primary internet failure, ensuring uninterrupted streaming during important church events.
  1. Ease of Use:
  • Generally user-friendly, with plug-and-play options available, reducing the need for extensive technical expertise.

Cons:

  1. Data Limits and Costs:
  • Limited data plans may result in additional costs or the need to monitor data usage carefully to avoid 
  1. Network Congestion:
  • Speed and performance may be affected during peak usage times or in areas with high network congestion, potentially impacting the quality of the live stream.
  • As local users are all sharing the bandwidth from the nearby tower connection speeds can vary by a factor of 10x within minutes. There is no guaranteed minimum bandwidth unlike a wired connection.
  1. Variable Signal Strength:
  • Signal strength can vary based on location and external factors, leading to potential fluctuations in streaming quality. So often if you are out of reach of a wired connection you may also be in a poor 4G area.
  1. Security Concerns:
  • Using public 4G networks may pose security risks, and additional measures may be required to secure the livestream and protect sensitive information.
  1. Equipment Costs:
  • Initial costs for purchasing a 4G router and associated equipment may be higher compared to traditional wired setups.
  1. Dependence on Cellular Coverage:
  • Livestream quality is contingent on the availability and strength of the cellular signal, which may be challenging in some locations.

In conclusion, like with most things it depends on the circumstances. If you are a rural church with no internet connection then yes 4G streaming could be the answer for you. But a good wired connection is always the gold standard. Another alternative might be a microwave link to a building which has a wired broadband connection. For example there may be a church office in a building that has a good connection. If there is line of sight between this and the church, even if it is up to 1Km away a low cost microwave link can bring high speed connectivity to the door.

In an era where live video streaming has become an integral part of online communication, selecting the right broadband speed is crucial to ensure a smooth and uninterrupted streaming experience. Whether you're a content creator, a business hosting webinars, or an individual connecting with your audience, the quality of your live video stream is directly influenced by the capabilities of your broadband connection. In this article, we'll explore the factors to consider when determining the ideal broadband speed for live video streaming.

Understanding Live Video Streaming Requirements:

  • Upload Speed:
    • The primary factor influencing live video streaming is the upload speed of your broadband connection. Unlike regular internet usage that emphasizes download speed, live streaming relies heavily on a robust upload speed to transmit data from your location to the streaming platform.
  • Resolution and Bitrate:
    • The resolution and bitrate of your live stream play a significant role in determining the required upload speed. Higher resolution (such as 1080p or 4K) and bitrate settings demand more data to be transmitted, necessitating a faster upload speed for a lag-free stream.

Recommended Broadband Speeds for Live Streaming:

  • Standard Definition (SD):
    • For streaming at standard definition (480p), a minimum upload speed of around 3 Mbps is recommended. This is suitable for basic live-streaming applications where high resolution is not a priority.
  • High Definition (HD - 720p/1080p):
    • If you aim for a higher quality stream at 720p or 1080p, consider an upload speed ranging from 5 Mbps to 10 Mbps. This ensures smoother streaming, especially if you're engaging in activities like gaming, webinars, or sharing detailed content.
  • 4K Streaming:
    • Streaming in 4K resolution demands a considerably higher upload speed. For a reliable 4K live stream, aim for an upload speed of at least 20 Mbps or more, depending on the complexity of your content.

Factors Affecting Broadband Performance:

  • Network Congestion:
    • The overall demand on your internet service provider's network can impact your broadband speed. Consider peak usage times and select a broadband plan that provides consistent performance during these periods.
  • Wired vs. Wireless Connection:
    • A wired Ethernet connection typically offers more stability and reliability compared to a wireless connection. If possible, connect your streaming device directly to the router using an Ethernet cable for optimal performance.

Tips for Optimal Live Streaming:

  • Perform a Speed Test:
    • Before going live, conduct a speed test to ensure your upload speed meets the recommended requirements. This helps identify potential issues and allows for adjustments if necessary.
  • Upgrade Your Plan:
    • If your current broadband plan falls short of the required upload speed, consider upgrading to a higher-tier plan that better aligns with your live streaming needs.
  • Optimize Streaming Settings:
    • Adjust streaming settings on your platform to match your broadband capabilities. Balance video quality with a smooth streaming experience based on your available upload speed.

Conclusion:

Selecting the right broadband speed for live video streaming is essential to deliver a seamless and enjoyable experience to your audience. By understanding the upload speed requirements based on your streaming resolution and considering additional factors affecting broadband performance, you can make informed decisions to optimize your live streaming setup. Regularly assess your internet speed, upgrade your plan if needed, and leverage best practices to ensure your live video streams are a reliable and engaging part of your online presence.

Introduction:

Creating a memorable and spiritually uplifting church service involves more than just powerful sermons and heartfelt worship; it also requires support from a reliable and well-designed audio-visual (AV) system. Selecting the right AV system for your church is crucial to ensure that every member of the congregation can fully engage with the message and worship experience. In this article, we will explore key considerations and recommendations to help you choose the best AV system for your church service.

Assessing Church Size and Layout:

  • The first step in selecting an AV system is understanding the size and layout of your church. Larger spaces may require more powerful audio systems and additional display screens to ensure that everyone can see and hear clearly. Consider the acoustics of the space and any unique architectural features that may impact sound distribution.

Audio System Components:

a. Microphones: Invest in high-quality microphones for pastors, worship leaders, and musicians. Consider both wired and wireless options based on the church's needs. Remember a wired microphone will always be more reliable and cost effective than wireless.

b. Mixing Console: A user-friendly mixing console is essential for balancing and adjusting audio levels. Look for a console with sufficient channels for all instruments and microphones.

But overall look for a console that your users will feel confident and comfortable operating.

c. Speakers: Choose speakers that match the size and aesthetics of your church. They are the one part of the audio system that is always on display so they mustn’t dominate visually. Ultimately there may be a trade-off between looks and performance, some congregations will be happier than others sacrificing one for the other.

Visual Display:

a. Projectors and Screens: Select high-resolution projectors and screens for displaying lyrics, announcements, and multimedia content. HD resolution is good to have but not essential, widescreen format is essential as all content is this shape. However, 4K resolution is fairly pointless as most viewers will be too far from a screen to see the difference.

Consider the size and placement of screens to maximise visibility for the congregation. Sometimes there are several options for this, especially old buildings there may seem to be no obvious option, that's where a specialist church installer will have experience and solutions to offer.

b. Cameras: If your church would like to broadcast services online, Quality cameras will provide better long-term value for money and greatly increase low-light performance over basic webcams for live streaming. As control and operation of cameras and streaming equipment can be a lot more complicated than using say a laptop or phone to stream, finding a supplier who has experience working with churches will always produce a simpler-to-use system tailored to your needs.

Lighting:

a. Stage Lighting: Enhance the worship experience with well-designed stage lighting. Consider intelligent lighting systems that can be programmed to create dynamic atmospheres during different parts of the service. These can be programmed to allow push-button recall of lighting scenes enabling anyone to operate the system. Stage lighting can also improve the quality of your streaming output as most cameras perform better with higher light levels.

b. House Lighting: Ensure proper ambient lighting for the congregation, allowing them to read hymnals or follow along with scriptures without straining their eyes. A specialist church lighting designer will understand the unique requirements of lighting older buildings sympathetically.

Integration and Control:

Choose an AV system that allows seamless integration and control. This includes the ability to control audio, video, and lighting from a central location, making it easy for operators to manage the entire system during services. This may now include wireless operation from a tablet allowing control from the minister if operating solo.

Budget Considerations:

While it's crucial to invest in quality AV equipment, it's equally important to stay within budget. A professional church AV contractor will help you prioritise essential components and explore cost-effective options without compromising on performance.

Conclusion:

Selecting the best AV system for your church service requires careful consideration of your church's size, layout, and specific needs. By investing in high-quality audio, visual, and lighting equipment, you can create an immersive and spiritually enriching experience for your congregation, fostering a deeper connection with the message and worship. Two key components of this are 1. Selecting a provider who has a proven track record in the church sector and 2. Good communication between the church and contractor ensures that the project is delivered to your expectations and the operational capabilities of your team.

Scheduling videos can seem like a terrifying task, so luckily for you, we have created a short guide to walk you through scheduling a live-stream video on Facebook.

  1. Navigate to your Facebook home page - This is where you see the news feed from all your friends, and you have the option to write a post to share with the world.
  2. Underneath the box to type your thoughts, there should be a Live video option. It will look like this.
  3. You will then be taken to another page, where you will have the option to Create a live video event. At the bottom of this box, you will find a Select button. Press this button.
  4. This screen is where you can then add in the details that will make that video identifiable from the others on your channel (e.g. by adding a title) and where you can set the start and end time of the live stream. Once you have filled in all the details, click on the Next option.
  5. Click on the Create Event button.
  6. You will then see a box appear to tell you that you have successfully created the live-streaming event, and will tell you the time that the video has been scheduled for. You then need to select Set Up Live Video.
  7. You will be given a choice of video sources; either your webcam or the other option, we want to select, will be Streaming Software. This means that Facebook will look for external hardware to provide a video feed at the time you have set the video to go live.
  8. This step may be necessary for your organisation, or it might not be, so it is worth briefly explaining the mysterious Stream Key. A stream key is a unique code that allows streaming equipment to communicate with the Facebook channel it is to stream to. Each channel has a unique code so that the equipment always sends the video feed to the correct place, otherwise, it has no way of knowing where to send the video stream. As default, Facebook will use a new unique code each time you create a new video, and this is useful in some situations, but with most of our system, we advise using a persistent stream key, which means that the key remains the same for every live video you create. However, you need to turn this option on by entering the advanced settings. It's important to note that if you use a persistent key, you can only schedule a video up to 24 hours in advance.
  9. Lastly, on the left-hand side of this page, you can choose where your video is posted. For example, you can choose for it to appear in a particular place, rather than your timeline.

So there you have it, our short guide to scheduling a video.

I want to live stream, but I'm not sure what equipment I need to get started, can you help?

Live streaming has become very popular since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to find new ways to 'meet' without being in the same physical location. The same applied to church services, which, even when lockdown restrictions were lifted, had a cap on the number of people who were allowed to attend.

Now that COVID is behind us, churches are still finding immense value in continuing to live stream their services so that people who are not able to make it in person are able to attend and be part of the congregation and stay connected to people. The same goes for events such as weddings and funerals, where family members may not be in the same country even, so the facility of live streaming the event online from the church is invaluable to them.

This short guide talks you through the different levels of equipment that you can use to live stream in any context, whether that be at church or from home.

What are the key components for live streaming successfully?
  • A camera - it seems obvious, but it's important that people can see what is happening!
  • A microphone - people do not just want to see what is happening, they want to hear what is being said too.
  • Streaming server (hardware or software) - in simple terms, we are referring to a device (most commonly a laptop or computer) which has the capability to stream to the internet.
  • Broadband connection with minimum 6mb/s upload speed. If you have a slower speed than this, it is likely that the people watching your stream are going to experience lag and buffering while the stream tries to squeeze the content out to the internet with the limited upload speed it has available.
  • Hosting platform e.g. Facebook Live, YouTube. This is where the stream is being uploaded to and broadcast from. The two listed are the most commonly used, but there are other options too and you can stream to more than one at once.

A smartphone actually contains all of these elements in a single device, so many people when making personal live videos will simply use their phone rather than any additional hardware.

So what different levels of streaming are there?

Entry Level - Smartphone, ideally with external microphone -remember the audio is the most important carrier of information so this should be a lapel type ideally to reduce the amount of room noise and reverberation picked up.

Level 2 - Laptop with integrated or separate webcam and microphone. 

Level 3 - Laptop with video capture device. One or more remote cameras with a means of switching between them, plus a feed from an existing sound system, wired or radio microphone.

Level 4 - Laptop with installed remote cameras, a production switcher and a feed from a sound system.

OR as above but with a dedicated streaming unit instead of a laptop (this provides a simple-to-operate and very reliable system removing the need for a dedicated laptop).

Within level 3 and 4 the cameras may be fixed or temporary and may be purpose-built units or a camcorder or digital SLR camera with HDMI output.

Environment

This needs to be somewhere quiet, background noise can be distracting and reduce intelligibility, particularly for those who are hard of hearing. Make a test recording and listen back through headphones - how much of the ‘room’ do you hear? If you are recording in church then speaking softly rather than projecting your voice may produce a lower level of reverberation which will be less noticeable. If recording at home try hanging a spare duvet up out of sight of the camera this can reduce the ‘boxy’ sound from small spaces. 

Golden Rules
  • Make sure you have enough bandwidth - check who else is using the broadband and kick them off if necessary!
  • Simple and reliable is better than complicated and flaky.
  • Check your background - no bright lights or windows.
  • Do a test recording and listen back on a similar device that your users will be using.
  • Audio is king! Ultimately good clear audio is far more important than super-high-quality pictures. Avoid reverberant spaces and keep close to your microphone.
To discuss how APi Sound and Visual could assist your church with live streaming your services, please call us on 0845 5578350 or contact us online.

It might seem like a silly question, but there is no shame in wondering why you would spend money on having a fixed sound or projection system, rather than having a portable system that you put up when you need it.

First of all, it is worth noting that you may not be able to have a fixed installation in your building if you are a church that meets in a school hall for example. But the majority of the time, an installed audio-visual system is always going to be preferable to a portable one. This article lists the 3 main reasons why.

It speeds things up. REALLY speeds them up.

If you are currently using portable equipment that needs to be set up and taken down each time it is used, consider how much time that takes each week and then multiply that by 52 to give a rough idea of how long you have spent in a year doing this. If it adds up to a lot, then maybe it is worth thinking about a fixed installation.

That projector that you have to mount on a table in exactly the correct place to get the image to fill the projection screen which you are dragging out and pulling up? How about a fixed projector which is turned on by a control panel on the wall, and an electric screen which drops down at the touch of a button on a remote control?

Or that sound system that you have to set up for each service, with the speakers on poles and sending someone to tape down the cables to stop them from being a trip hazard. Do wall-mounted loudspeakers which turn on with the system and a system which has been equalised and balanced already sound better?

Think of all that time you could save on Sundays, having an extra hour (at least) each morning to enjoy a bacon sandwich (other breakfast choices available) before heading to church 15 minutes before the service starts.

Increased reliability

By week 20 of setting up your portable system, you will have a good idea of how everything connects together, where everything goes, and how long you need to give yourself before the service starts to get everything ready in time. I imagine you will also have a list of things which have gone wrong before and solutions to each one in case they happen again mid-service.

But there will always be a new issue that you haven’t come across before, which makes running the AV system become stressful all over again. A cable that has been misplaced or not connected to the right input, a table which moves every time you get the projector in just the right place, or even feedback that you have never experienced before.

With an installed audio-visual system, you are going to get the security of everything being the way you left it last week. All the cables will still be connected, the loudspeakers will still be facing in the same direction and the microphones will be set to the correct levels. This means that you have a far more reliable system, one which is not going to throw up unexpected difficulties mid-service (although these do still happen).

Reliability allows you and the people using the system to have more confidence and to be able to focus on the things that really matter, like delivering their presentation or the reading they have been practising all week. You are there to enjoy the service as well remember!

Higher Quality, Lower Footprint

As a rule of thumb, an installed system is going to produce higher quality due to it being designed and tuned to the acoustics of the room. Often, unless you have spent thousands on your portable PA system, the standard of the equipment used in a fixed installation is going to be better, which makes sense considering it is going to need to perform for the next 10 years.

Having a fixed installation means that we can design the system to fit the space, using products which have the correct characteristics to deal with the size, shape or high reverberation of your building. This is not possible with portable equipment, meaning that the sound quality will always be compromised to some extent.

When it comes to projection, you are far likelier to get a clearer, brighter and crisper image from an installation projector than you are with a portable model. Portable projectors are great, but they have been designed to be as compact as possible, which means that they usually give a fairly low lumens output (how bright the light source inside the projector is - see our article about projectors in more detail here).

The other benefit of a fixed installation is the smaller footprint it will have in the building, as the equipment will not be taking up floor space, but mounted on the walls and often almost completely out-of-site when not in use (see our video on the winch-down screen we often use here). We are able to hide cabling and ensure that there is minimal impact on the aesthetics of the space, which is not possible anywhere near the same level as portable equipment.

Hopefully, this has convinced you that a fixed installation has far more pros than cons, but as we said at the beginning of this article, sometimes it is not possible for a number of reasons, in which case portable could be the best solution for you.

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