Bittorrent Inc. seems to be working constantly on new technologies and products. Last year, the company released OneHash, a technology to stream torrents directly in the web browser and Bittorrent Live, a broadcasting solution based on P2P technology. Bittorrent Live back then was available as a closed beta that you had to sign up for to get access to the client. Yesterday, that restriction was lifted so that it is now available as an unrestricted and direct download on the Bittorrent Live website.
The basic idea behind Bittorrent Live is certainly an interesting one. Let anyone broadcast live to the Internet using P2P technology. It is different from streaming solutions such as Twitch which use dedicated servers of their own to stream your live contents to an audience. With Bittorrent Live, you stream the contents to connected peers, who stream the contents to other peers and so on.
This works on the client side by running Bittorrent Live in the background, and accessing streams in your browser of choice. It seems to do just fine without plugins and the like as well as none are installed in your browser after the installation of Bittorrent Live on your system.
The bottleneck with this approach is upload bandwidth. Bittorrent Live requires broadcasters to have at least four times the total stream bitrate in upload bandwidth so that the stream can scale beyond a small number of users. While that is certainly a problem for home users who want to stream contents, especially HD, to the Internet, it should not be an issue for companies or well equipped broadcasters who use a server infrastructure to broadcast a stream.
While the idea is certainly interesting, the current implementation of Bittorrent Live is not. The first thing that you will notice is that the desktop client that you install has virtually no controls or settings. What this means is that you have no control over the bandwidth that is used to stream the broadcast to other users who are also watching the stream. While you can use programs to limit the upload bandwidth of programs in Windows, it would be far better if Bittorrent Live would come with preferences that enable you to limit the bandwidth used.
It needs to be noted that the program is still in beta, and that it is likely that its engineers will add preferences to it at one point or the other. Bittorrent Live in my opinion will thrive the most if broadcasters use dedicated servers for the streaming and utilize the power of P2P to save a lot of bandwidth.
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