One of the most critical elements to ensure a successful IRL stream is a reliable internet connection.
Now, I could provide a breakdown of specific carriers to consider, but this information changes annually. Instead, I want to guide you on how to figure it out on your own, regardless of the country. However, I will create another guide specifically for IRL streaming carriers in the United States.
In most situations, you will always need a minimum of two carriers and bonding capabilities to maintain a smooth and stable connection. This may vary depending on factors such as signal strength, resolution, bitrate, and whether you are using a phone for streaming. It is advisable to avoid crowded areas. Having two carriers will give you more freedom to stream in various locations, while three carriers would be excessive unless you plan to be in highly crowded areas such as festivals, conventions, or areas with minimal cell coverage. This guide is intended for users on SRT. If you use RTMP, add one more carrier to the suggested amount. With SRT, a bitrate of 1000 should provide a mostly clear image, but in my experience, RTMP requires at least 3000 bitrate for a clear image.
Start by researching the best carriers with unlimited data plans in the country where you intend to stream IRL. Take the time to read through their fine print, which you may need to translate using Google Translate. If you have friends in that country, even those who don’t stream, ask them about their carrier preferences. Keep in mind that some countries restrict certain cellular data plans to residents only.
In cases where no carriers in a country offer unlimited data plans, look for prepaid plans with the largest data capacity. However, ensure you carefully read the fine print, as some plans may have daily usage caps.
Selecting Your Carriers
Selecting the right connection also involves having a strong modem. When purchasing your gear, choose the options that best suit your planned usage. If you only plan to stream in the US, you can opt for US-only modems (similarly for other regions like the EU or Asia). More expensive modems designed for global support are ideal if you plan to travel IRL, as they support multiple bands. The more bands a modem supports, the more countries it will work with local carriers for their specific bands. While you can check the specific bands supported by your modems and research the countries they support, many travel IRL streamers prefer global modems for convenience.
I could provide a list of modems that are currently recommended, but as mentioned earlier, this information can change annually. Recent changes in the US, such as the decommissioning of 3G, have affected the usage and behavior of modems with 3G capabilities while live streaming. I discovered this recently when my Verizon 8800L MiFi and Huawei E8372h-608 modems started heavily reducing my bitrate from AT&T and Visible (Verizon 3rd party carrier) carriers as of May 2023. However, they worked normally and performed better with my 5G-supported modems (Inseego M2000 and Inseego MC800 / USB800), both of which are global modems.
I recommend having at least three modems on hand, even if you plan to use only two. Not all modems are created equal. I encountered this during my travel IRL streaming in Colombia, where one SIM card did not work with any of my modems, but the other two SIM cards worked fine. I used the non-working SIM card that refused to work in my modems, used it in my phone for chat purposes and worked fine.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may include affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!