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 UDP vs. TCP and Which One to Use for Video Streaming
January 21, 2022

UDP vs. TCP and Which One to Use for Video Streaming

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When you’re weighing the virtues of TCP vs. UDP, we’re going to imagine that you just’re already accustomed to the seven layers of networking and the all-important transport layer. As with every thing, there are benefits and drawbacks to each protocols. To make an knowledgeable determination, although, it’s vital to know the important thing variations between the 2.



Transmission Management Protocol (TCP)

Transmission Management Protocol (additionally famous as TCP/IP) is among the earliest, most foundational networking protocols, and it’s used extensively by core web functions such because the World Vast Net (HTTP), electronic mail (SMTP), File Switch Protocol (FTP), and lots of others. It’s greatest suited to functions the place correct supply is extra vital than timeliness.


How Does TCP Work?

TCP was designed to supply a extremely dependable, end-to-end byte stream over an unreliable community. It “cares” in regards to the high quality of the info stream and prioritizes ordered and exact packet supply. It achieves this dependability by way of a way often known as optimistic acknowledgment with retransmission.

Because of this TCP requires a handshake between hosts, and it detects points with IP packets — whether or not they’re on account of community congestion, points with load balancing, or different unpredictable community behaviors. If TCP determines that IP packets are misplaced, duplicated, or out of sequence, it’ll request retransmission of missed information, appropriate out-of-order information, and even reduce community congestion. As soon as the sequence of packets has been assembled within the applicable order, the TCP receiver passes the info to the receiving software. 


Person Datagram Protocol (UDP)

Person Datagram Protocol, nonetheless, is a straightforward connectionless protocol with minimal mechanisms. It doesn’t require recipients to let the sender know that every one information packets have arrived, giving it a popularity for being unreliable (some jokingly consult with UDP because the Unreliable Datagram Protocol). Nonetheless, it has quite a few attributes that make it enticing for streaming.


How Does UDP Work?

UDP leverages easy checksums as a substitute of handshakes to validate information integrity and gives no ensures of supply, ordering, or duplicate safety. It’s additionally stateless, which makes it very best for transmitting information to massive numbers of purchasers.

UDP additionally boasts multicast help, unlocking capabilities equivalent to service discovery and broadcasting. Its lack of retransmission delays makes it appropriate for real-time functions equivalent to Voice over IP (VoIP), on-line video games, and reside video streaming. As such, UDP is right to make use of alongside Actual-Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP).


Professionals and Cons of TCP and UDP

One of many largest benefits of TCP over UDP is that it requires gadgets to work together with each other extra often to test for errors. This enhanced verification means even when information packets arrive at a recipient’s IP handle out of order, or if items are lacking solely, the protocol communicates with the sender to make sure each bit arrives the place it needs to be.

Nonetheless, prioritizing accuracy may also incur prolonged delays (a number of seconds’ price) whereas ready for message retransmission. These delays could be unnoticeable to human Web customers, however in terms of UDP vs. TCP velocity, UDP is a transparent winner. TCP, however, is preferable for sending vital recordsdata and messages that don’t must occur in actual time.

UDP is mostly favored for sorts of information streaming the place close to immediacy is crucial. The disadvantage is that a couple of information packets despatched through UDP streaming could be lacking or out of order, which may end in a couple of frames lacking (for instance) or a slight glitch in audio throughout a reside stream. If the distinction is minor, it hopefully gained’t negatively impression your consumer expertise an excessive amount of.


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Streaming Protocols 

As a result of HTTP communication usually takes place over TCP connections, we are inclined to see HTTP-based streaming protocols layered over TCP connections. Nonetheless, newer applied sciences leverage UDP’s simplicity and velocity. You’ll be able to see which streaming protocols pair with TCP or UDP greatest within the chart beneath:



You’ll discover that RTSP is on each side of the chart as a result of it usually depends on TCP’s dependable transmission for management and UDP’s best-efforts supply to show audio and video on client-side functions earlier than the whole file has arrived. So, if you happen to’re utilizing RTSP, UDP or TCP isn’t the query — you want every of them for an optimum expertise. RTP can be able to utilizing each, however RTMP is strictly a TCP-based protocol.

MPEG-DASH is made to work with TCP however is incompatible with Apple gadgets. If you understand a portion of your viewers makes use of iOS gadgets or Safari, don’t fear; Apple HLS can be designed to perform with TCP to make sure reliability and preserve its highly effective adaptive bitrate. Sadly, this additionally leads to excessive latency (as a lot as 30-45 seconds), however Low-Latency HLS is created to function with TCP as effectively and guarantee speedy supply.

The WebRTC protocol can leverage both TCP or UDP, however we advocate utilizing it with the latter. SRT can be greatest used with UDP as a result of it’s constructed with its personal latency and “jitter” management from packet loss on low networks, which may compensate for UDP’s diminished accuracy, making them a great mixture for information transmission.



When you’re debating whether or not to make use of UDP or TCP for streaming, take into account how briskly you need your transmission to ship and what your margin for error is earlier than it impacts your consumer expertise. It’s essential to architect a workflow that makes use of the very best streaming protocols on your particular requirement, which is why we constructed Wowza’s expertise to be versatile.

Wowza’s platform helps all of the protocols mentioned on this article and could be custom-made to your wants. Merely contact us right now to speak to an skilled about one of the best ways to architect your streaming workflow.


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Further Assets:

  • The Way forward for Video Know-how Report
  • The Full Information to Stay Streaming
  • 2021 Video Streaming Latency Report
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