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peercasting

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Peercasting is a method of broadcasting audio or video through multiple streams of data that are transmitted by peers on the same platform, app or network.

Peercasting makes it possible for individuals to broadcast or stream content that might not otherwise be carried on other networks. Peercasting content allows even a single user with modest bandwidth to stream content of their choice as users supply bandwidth between one another. Examples of peercasting software include Alluvium, PeerCast, FreeCast, Tribler, PULSE, Rawflow, Red Swoosh, Veoh and PPstream.

Peercasting works in a number of ways:

  • By having streams of data relayed from peer to peer. The connections between peers in a stream are negotiated on an overlay network. This type of network can suffer during disconnecting of relays or when peers must switch to a new relay.
  • By minute swarming, where files are broken up into minute-long segments that are then distributed by a peer to peer client such as BitTorrent, Coral or Dijer. While able to muster high transfer rates with numbers of users, this method has a higher overhead due to the formation of new swarms every minute.
  • By striping the live stream into sub-streams akin to the way the data is striped on drives in a RAID 0 configuration. Forward error correction and timing data are separate from the other streams which contain the media data. The stream can generally recover from one or more dropped relays by switching relays. Data transmission is in the end completed by way of the first method described above.
  • By allowing peers switching relays to resume from where playback left off by using a buffer.

Content networks, like YouTube, can take measures to reduce visibility or demonetize channels that offend advertisers or the sensibilities of the network themselves. Content is often censored according to the networks rules. Peercasting has no network authority to offend and the only thing that limits audiences is a lack of awareness of shows or disinterest.

This was last updated in July 2018

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