SRT vs. Other Protocols: Is Secure Reliable Transport For You?

By Frederik Nielsen

5 Min Read

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Frederik Nielsen

Frederik is a writer, marketer, podcaster, musician, tech enthusiast, and overall curious person.

    American consumers spend $200 billion every month on video streaming. According to Deloitte research, Americans spend almost as much time streaming content as they spend working. That’s why businesses try making video content as accessible to consumers as possible.

    In the world of online video streaming, there are a lot of different protocols and technologies to choose from. But if you’re a media professional, one protocol could be your go-to choice: SRT or Secure Reliable Transport.

    This blog post will briefly introduce the SRT video: what it is, why it matters, and some of its key features. Let’s get started!

    What is SRT (Secure Reliable Transport)?

    SRT is a secure, reliable transport protocol developed by Haivision, the Canadian company behind the popular Makito encoder. SRT is an open-source video protocol that anyone can use, and it’s designed to reduce Internet streaming latency.

    The SRT encoder is ideal for applications where every second counts — like live sports or breaking news. SRT delivers superior quality and reliability compared to other protocols like RTMP. That’s why the SRT network it’s quickly becoming the industry standard for professional media organizations.

    It’s also becoming popular among independent content creators and amateurs, who use SRT to stream their content to platforms like Twitch and YouTube. The SRT protocol accounts for jitters, packet loss, and fluctuating bandwidth while maintaining video integrity.

    The SRT technology gives you the best low-latency video streaming quality over the worst networks.

    SRT stands out as an open-source protocol from the pack.

    How Did SRT Protocol Come About?

    Before diving into how it works, it’s worth taking a quick look at the history of STR streaming encoder software. SRT was designed to improve your streaming performance over rigid MPLS networks and deliver low-latency live videos. As mentioned earlier, Haivision, the Montreal-based video streaming development company, designed the SRT platform.

    The SRT protocol was first released in 2013, and it’s been constantly updated with new features and improvements. To encourage the adoption of SRT, Haivision released the protocol on GitHub as open-source software five years ago. Anyone can use and modify the SRT protocol without paying a licensing fee.

    In 2018, Haivision was awarded an Emmy Award by NATAS Technology for pioneering such a reliable streaming protocol for live contribution and TV link distribution. Since then, SRT has been endorsed by some of the biggest names in the streaming industry, including Microsoft, Adobe, Wowza, and Vimeo.

    How Does SRT Live Stream Work?

    Now that we’ve answered the question “what is SRT low-latency video,” let’s take a closer look at how it works.

    To understand how SRT video and audio streaming works, you must understand how other streaming protocols work. The most popular streaming protocol is RTMP, developed by Adobe in 2002.

    RTMP breaks the video into small pieces, or packets, and sends them over the public Internet to the viewer. The problem with RTMP is that it’s unreliable and only works well over long distances.

    SRT is designed to address the shortcomings of RTMP by using a different method to send packets over the Internet. SRT uses what’s called “UDP,” or User Datagram Protocol.

    UDP is a packet-based protocol designed for real-time applications like video streaming. It’s different from TCP, or Transmission Control Protocol, which is the protocol most Internet traffic uses. UDP is a “connectionless” protocol, which means it doesn’t establish a connection before sending data. That makes it faster and more efficient than TCP.

    SRT works by using two key components: the Sender and the Receiver. The Sender collects the media stream from your encoder and sends it out over the Internet to the Receiver. The Receiver then decrypts the stream and plays it back for your viewers.

    The beauty of SRT is that it can adapt to changing network conditions in real-time to ensure that your stream stays consistent and reliable throughout. For example, SRT will automatically lower the bitrate if there’s an interruption in your Internet connection to avoid dropped frames or buffering issues.

    Benefits of SRT Live Streaming

    Using the SRT live server for your streaming needs has many benefits. Here are just a few:

    High-Quality Video

    SRT source video transport protocol is best known for its exceptional, low-latency streaming video and audio quality. That’s because SRT uses a unique Forward Error Correction (FEC) system that can recover lost packets without affecting video quality.

    SRT streams are designed to adapt to changing network conditions in real-time. Your viewers will always have a smooth, uninterrupted viewing experience, even if your Internet connection is unreliable.

    Extreme Security

    Security is a major concern for 9 out of 10 US businesses, and for a good reason. Data breaches are becoming more common, and the cost of a breach is rising. The average cost of a data breach in the US is more than $9.4 million, up from $3.6 million five years ago.

    SRT’s video streaming ecosystem is encrypted end-to-end using AES-256, the same encryption standard used by the US military. So you can forget worrying about your stream being intercepted by hackers.

    Increased Reliability

    When it comes to streaming, reliability is key. Your viewers won’t stick around if your stream keeps freezing or buffering. SRT source video transport protocol is designed to be ultra-reliable, even if you’re streaming over unpredictable networks.

    The SRT server uses a unique Forward Error Correction (FEC) system that can recover lost packets without affecting video quality. That means your viewers will always have a smooth, uninterrupted viewing experience.

    Low-Latency

    Latency is the time your video signal travels from your camera to your viewers’ screens. Naturally, the lower the latency, the better the viewer experience. So how low can SRT go?

    SRT streams have an extremely low latency of just 150 milliseconds, invisible to the human eye. That enables your viewers to interact with you in real-time, making for a more engaging experience.

    Firewall Traversal

    Most corporate and government networks have firewalls to protect against cyber threats. However, if you have ever used a firewall – or even a simple antivirus program – you know that they can often block legitimate traffic, like your live stream.

    Fortunately, SRT streams are designed to traverse firewalls with ease. So you can rest assured that your viewers behind a firewall will be able to watch your stream without any issues.

    Interoperability

    Equipment compatibility can be a significant headache for live streamers. Fortunately, SRT streams are compatible with virtually any encoder, decoder, CDN, or software player on the market.

    So whether you’re using a popular streaming platform like OBS or VLC, or a more niche piece of equipment, you can be sure that your SRT stream will work without any issues.

    Cost-Effectiveness

    In the post-pandemic world, many businesses are still feeling the pinch. Money problems can make it difficult to justify investing in new streaming equipment or software.

    Fortunately, SRT streams are a cost-effective solution for live streaming. That’s because they can be broadcast using your existing Internet connection and equipment. So you don’t have to spend a fortune on new hardware or software to start streaming with SRT.

    Open Source

    SRT is an open-source protocol, which means anyone can use it for free. That includes businesses of all sizes, from small startups to large enterprises.

    Plus, because SRT is open source, there is a vibrant community of developers working on improving the protocol. So you can be confident that SRT will continue to evolve and improve over time. Since 2018, Dacast has been a member of the SRT alliance

    SRT vs RTMP vs WebRTC, your choice will depend on your needs and preferences.

    SRT vs. Other Protocols

    Now that you know all about the benefits of the SRT streaming protocol, you might wonder how it stacks up against other protocols. Here’s a quick overview of how SRT compares to some of the most popular streaming protocols.

    SRT vs. RTMP

    The most popular live-stream protocol is the Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP). That’s because it’s supported by all the major streaming platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and of course, here at Dacast.

    As a proprietary protocol, streamers must pay to use it.

    Moreover, RTMP streams can be insecure and have high latency if not appropriately implemented, which can be a problem for interactive streams. Luckily, these are not issues when utilizing the Dacast platform, which provides a secure, low-latency streaming environment.

    SRT vs. HLS

    HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) is another low-latency streaming protocol that helps users deliver high-quality live video streams, despite jitter and bandwidth fluctuations.

    However, HLS has several drawbacks. First, it’s a closed protocol, meaning you must pay to use it. Also, HLS streams are notoriously insecure. Finally, HLS is a resource-intensive protocol that can cause issues on mobile devices.

    SRT vs. WebRTC

    WebRTC, otherwise known as browser-based streaming, is another popular protocol available on the Dacast platform. Any device, especially mobile devices, can easily decode WebRTC streams with an internet connection.

    WebRTC streams are can be insecure, so take extra security precautions. We recommend utilizing AES-128 for secure encryption of your streams. One downside is that it needs more documentation and support because it’s a new protocol.

    Closing Thoughts

    As you can see, there are some reasons why SRT streaming can be a useful streaming protocol for professional media organizations. The SRT platform is worth considering if you’re looking for a reliable, low-latency solution for your video needs. 

    Many reliable protocols are far more compatible with currently existing platforms like Dacast and end-user devices.

    Ready to try streaming with a secure streaming platform like Dacast? 

    We invite you to take advantage of our 14-day risk-free trial. You can access our professional streaming features to see how our platform can help you reach your streaming goals. 

    Sign up today to get started in minutes. No credit card is required.

    If you want to learn more about RTMP, HLS, WebRTC, and other streaming protocols, we recommend checking out the Knowledge Base section of our site. A quick search for “streaming protocols,” “RTMP,” or other related keywords will generate documentation that provides more insight on these topics.

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    author avatar

    Frederik Nielsen

    Frederik is a writer, marketer, podcaster, musician, tech enthusiast, and overall curious person.

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