YouTube announced a livestreaming feature to its mobile app in an effort to take on Facebook's Live and Twitter's Periscope. And the move may weigh down wireless networks that already struggle with slow uplink speeds.
Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) online video business said YouTube users will be able to broadcast video directly from their phones with the touch of a button. Viewer comments are scrolled over the broadcast, similar to Periscope, and users can search for streams as they occur.
The offering is currently available only to some high-profile YouTube content providers but will soon be available to all users, the business said. The news was announced at VidCon, an event focusing on the online video market, in Anaheim, California.
YouTube generates the largest amount of traffic of all mobile applications, according to data from Strategy Analytics, and demand for livestreamed, user-generated content appears to be strong. Twitter, for instance, said in March that Periscope had been used to deliver more than 200 million broadcasts since its debut in March 2015, Variety reported, and users were watching nearly 1 million hours of live streams every day.
But U.S. carriers may struggle to support YouTube's new feature if it takes off quickly. Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) said earlier this week that while LTE network download speeds have improved steadily in recent years, upload speeds have stagnated. Operators around the world have made incremental improvements on the downlink side thanks to technologies such as carrier aggregation, but haven't paid as much attention to uplink performance.
The reason, obviously, is that most mobile traffic is on the downlink side. As consumers increasingly use their phones to upload content – especially video, which consumes enormous amounts of data compared to other kinds of content – carriers may struggle to deliver the goods.
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