Updated: Jun 4, 2019
I don’t know about you, but I get irrationally annoyed when my YouTube, Netflix, or Hulu video doesn’t load immediately. I begin to fidget and name all of the reasons I don’t have time for this nonsense. It seems like a petty thing to be concerned over, in this Information Age, when just 20 years ago, we were watching home movies with VCRs. The quality we get while watching videos has drastically and exponentially improved even over the last five years, and it is easier than ever to view anything almost immediately. Still, when something doesn’t work, I try to blame my internet provider, because if I pay this much for 500/500 mbps, or the “lightning-fast speed” they claim, surely my videos should never need to load.
So, is my anger directed at the right culprit, and is it justified?
Short answer: no to both.
Many video service providers like YouTube know how important it is to their users to be satisfied with fast and good-quality service. Today, many consumers are unaware that the quality of the video factors into how fast it loads, as video streaming makes up the bulk of data volume on mobile carriers. Companies like Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube that provide video services invest in the changes necessary to create a good user experience, and markedly suffer when they do not. We want our videos on the go, and we want them now!
The quality of a video is determined by a few things, least of which, the availability of service. Other factors include issues such as image resolution and quality, compression issues, and transmission errors. As video services become more widely used (e.g. in streaming surveillance of your home), it becomes essential for developers to find solutions. Analyzing quality is important and possible with new devices that perform automatic tests. Automatic testing makes it easy to pinpoint problems, giving services an easy way to suss out issues and the chance to improve quality overall. The 5G mobile speeds will soon become standard for mobile carriers, and will make quality testing essential.
What does this mean for me?
We now know that it isn’t purely the network’s fault when your video won’t load. We know that enhanced services are on their way, and there are ways to test the services automatically for any issues and giving the current video platforms ways to improve. Your home surveillance quality will improve from the added speeds and better, immediate tests for issues! The changes are coming, and they're arriving faster than the time it takes to decide whether or not to leave "auto-play" on or off.
Off. Leave it off.