All about Video Buffering – part 2

Cost of Video Buffering

Buffering costs money! It costs money to the consumer (who conveniently close the video or move to another video) and it costs much more money to the publisher.

Before publishing videos on your servers, its very important that all videos are transcoded keeping the end consumer in mind. There are so many different mobile phones with different screen sizes, which supports different quality of videos. If you don’t support them all, you might lose a large audience who are interested in your content.

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Education in Buffering mode!

Buffering! It was very clear that this is one of the biggest challenges in online space. How do I know this for sure? The fact that almost all video content is inaccessible on my mobile phone (unless I use 3G), and even if I do upgrade to 3G, quality comes into the picture. Viewing bad quality video which pixelates too much doesn’t help either.

In fact, I came to realize this when I wanted to learn from online MOOCs. I wanted to take online courses from Coursera, Udemy, etc., to learn new skills and was just not able to learn from my smart phone. I figured that I needed to invest lot of money to learn this, even though it’s been made available for free online. This means, I needed a computer / laptop / tablet (about INR 10,000 to 30,000) and a high speed internet connection (about INR 2000 per month) without which it’s practically impossible to access these learning videos.

Photo credits: http://pemadonyo.wordpress.com/tag/gratitude/

Photo credits: Pema donyo

In today’s scenario, getting student’s attention to learn is the biggest challenge faced by teachers all over the world. But imagine this, if there’s a motivated student who wants to learn, and it is available to him for free online, but he’s not able to access them because of investments like hardware devices and internet connections on a monthly bases. This is a bad situation for any knowledge hungry student, who might lose motivation over a period of time and remain unlearned.

That’s when I started OpenSourceEducation, an online portal to give easy access to educational video content on any device, without buffering! It works seamlessly even with low speed 2G internet connection with good video viewing experience without pixilation.

Now we have not one, but two challenges ahead of us.
1. Buffering
2. Education video content

How do we overcome this was the next big task!

I want to break-up with you ‘Buffering’!

If you’re wondering what UnBuffer is, try reading it again, its Un – Buffer (this should remind you of that irritating symbol ‘BUFFERING‘ while watching videos online). Yes, even I found it very irritating to see it every time while watching videos online. And this might be the case if you are lucky to have a high speed internet connection, a fair amount of buffering and then video play smoothly with a few interruptions in between throughout the video.

But, if you’re like me, living in India, you’ll experience the real meaning of ‘buffering’, especially if you have low speed internet connection (most common is 2G networks, which also works out to be fairly economical compared to 3G).  To put this in perspective, if you want to watch a one minute video with 2G network, it will take anywhere between 10 minutes to 12 minutes with all the buffering time. This is real sh*t! 10 minutes of freaking buffering to watch just a one minute video clip. Anyone who’s got this kinda patience must be really really really jobless in their life! (I will also be sharing in another post about an experiment we did to check the exact buffering time and this will surprise you for sure 😉 )

Hulk angry Buffering UnBuffer

So, it was time for me to get some more insights about this ‘buffering’. Is it just us in India experiencing this due to low speed internet connections? Interestingly, anyone who watches videos online knows about buffering. Okay, this implies, we have at least a billion people worldwide who know about buffering! Wow ? Really ? There are millions of people, especially students all over the world cribbing about buffering every single day. And most convenient channel where people let out their frustration about buffering was on twitter. And this dude, Julian Smith even composed a romantic song on it. Way to go dude! \m/

Now, I know what you’re thinking. If buffering is due to the low speed internet, it won’t be a problem once our network upgrades completely to 3G (which is taking forever) and 4G. YOU ARE SO WRONG MY FRIEND! 🙂  You see, a lot of those frustrating tweets about buffering were not from India. In fact, most of them were from the most developed nations in the world. Even with a super high speed internet connection, people still experience ‘BUFFERING’ while watching videos.

So, now we knew we had a really big problem in front of us. Buffering! My next thought, How do we overcome that ? That is a million dollar question my friend 😉