There are three main parts to the streaming process: The broadcaster, the Content Distribution Network (CDN), and the viewer.
The Broadcaster (you)
You are responsible for creating the internet broadcast (audio or video) and making it available to your chosen CDN.
Your content can come from a device (a mixer, a microphone, a camera, etc) or from files on your PC. This broadcast is made available to your CDN through an Encoder. An Encoder is a software program that takes your content, digitizes it, and controls the quality of your broadcast.
You will also need to have an internet connection capable of transmitting data at your chosen speed (which affects the quality of your broadcast) so that your CDN can access your broadcast.
Your CDN is responsible for accessing your broadcast, and delivering it effectively to your audience.
A CDN can either connect to your broadcast by your IP address (Pull method), or have your broadcast sent to it from the Encoder (Push method). For short broadcasts the Push method can be very effective and is easier to configure, however an broadcasts lasting more than 2 or 3 hours should use the Pull method.
We can supply more information on these methods at your request.
The CDN then receives requests from your viewers to start a stream, and does so using a Global Matrix Array. The method for effectively delivering the content is very complex, and involves determining the optimal route through the internet to your viewer, then maintaining a steady flow of data.
The purpose of any internet broadcast is to deliver the best possible experience to your audience, and to make it as easy as possible for them to view your broadcast.
All a viewer (or listener) needs to do is click on a hyperlink in your website, or in an email, to automatically begin receiving your stream (through your CDN).
The viewer will need to have an internet connection with enough bandwidth to receive the data at the same rate you are broadcasting at, and have a player installed that is able to play the broadcast (Windows Media Player is installed on about 98% of all computers in the world).
Now that you have a basic idea of how streaming works, we can move forward and address some of the specific questions you may still have.