Live broadcasting via a phone is easy as long as you remember one golden rule. You have to have as perfect a connection to the internet as you possibly can.
Don’t try and go live unless you have a fast connection on 3G – or even better: 4G. Go back and read that sentence again – and if you don’t follow this advice come back and read it again when you fall off the air. Because you will.
If you are using Wifi – don’t use a public hotspot that everyone can log on to. If you do and somebody decides to stream last week’s Dr Who you will fall off the air.
Try and find out who owns any locked down wifi networks that you can see. M&S is unlikely to offer up their passwords to you but Sid’s Cafe may be willing (especially if you float a fiver in front of the owner’s face).
Don’t try to broadcast at half time at Old Trafford. There may be one or two other people using the network at the same time and your signal will collapse.
So how do you have the best chance of being able to broadcast?
1. download a few speedtest apps. I like Ookla Speedtest but OpenSignal’s is worth a look – although it does have a habit of overstating the connection speeds a bit. None of these are a cast-iron guarantee of broadcasting… for that you’d need to be monitoring the UDP speed of a connection and that’s a bit tricky. BUT.. if you have a good phone signal.. and a good series of speeds by using a speed test app you have a better chance of successfully broadcasting that
2. Before you broadcast. Actually.. before you even tell the studio that you CAN broadcast do one thing: test your speed. Then test it again.
3. The first thing a speedtest will, er, test is the ‘ping’ – for us it means the amount of delay between the signal being sent and it coming back to you. You want a low number 30ms or less is great, 60ms is liveable with but anything over 100ms is probably going to be noticeable on air.
4. The next thing the speedtest app will check is the download speed. Whilst this is really useful if you’re trying to download something we aren’t. Although a healthy figure is good, it’s not essential. What is essential is:
5. The final thing the speedtest will check is the upload speed. As the only thing you care about is the quality of your dulcet tones, this is what you should worry about. Trust me, you should never broadcast on anything under than a 3mb upload network (wifi, 3G or 4G). Never. (Well, I say ‘never’ but if it’s the world’s biggest story then I might risk it on a slower link… but I wouldn’t trust my career on it).
The title of this page says it all: Connectivity is Everything. If you’re getting dreadful speedtest results here is my tip: move. I’d rather be 50m up the road and getting a perfect signal than being on the touchline and falling off air. Don’t forget: it’s radio. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had to move. Nobody can see you.