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Many believe that watching an online video with less resolution but without stalling is better than watching a high quality video with constant stalling and buffering. Youtube clients on mobiles seem to be optimized in this way. I remember being able to watch a Youtube video on my N95 using EGPRS. 20 kB/s was enough to watch videos on that mobile, although it needed some time to buffer and start playing the video.
I think that optimizing applications is as important as providing enough bandwidth for wireless broadband. Mobile operators just wouldn’t be able to provide bandwidth for ever growing demand for data without optimizing users’ consumption. Opera browser is another example of such optimization.
By the way, one thing that hasn’t been mention is that Youtube clients don’t download the whole video you’re watching, at least on Nokia N97 that I own. When you watch a video you see a circular button moving and indicating where the video is playing and the partly transparent strip shows how much of the video has been downloaded. When using a youtube client on a mobile the transparent strip moves only about a dozen of seconds ahead and when the video is paused the transparent strip stops too. This must have been done to prevent downloading the whole video and to conserve data in case a user doesn’t want to watch the whole video or just browsing Youtube videos in order to find something worthy their attention. It’s very wise move in my eyes. On the opposite, a browser on a PC downloads the whole video even if when paused.


Interesting, recently I did my own test to see what is the data throughput requirement for YouTube HQ video on mobile network. On a SonyEricsson Xperia Arc handset, I am seeing that YouTube HQ video is generally streamed at 1.3 mbps. Perhaps because the screen native resolution on handset in 854x480.

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