Streaming on Twitch is big time, whether you’re a user or a content creator. To grow your Twitch channel you might be tempted to stream come hell or high water which means streaming with a sub optimal set up and internet connection such as 3G.
But is it plausible to stream with a 3G connection? What could be achieved with one? Let’s find out.
How fast is a 3G connection?
Both download and upload speeds for 3G vary widely from location to location and country to country. The average speed a stable 3G connection should achieve is 3 megabits per second (Mbps). The reality is you could get anything between 348 kilobits per second (Kbps) to 7Mbps. But, this is downstream.
If you are a content creator then upload speed is more important – 3G’s range of upload speed goes from 0.4 Mbps to 2Mbps. When we get to the details of streaming on Twitch with it this is an important piece of information.
How far you are from the nearest 3G mast makes a huge difference, as well as the technology inside your device and whether or not you are moving around.
It’s hard for anyone to see if their device is getting the full rate its capable of outside of an internet speed test, so our estimates are pointless – if you intend to go live on Twitch with 3g then simply perform a test.
Can you watch a Twitch stream with a 3G connection?
Theoretically, yes. If your 3G connection is strong enough and achieves 2 Mbps or above then you could watch a 480p stream, just about. A 480p stream with 30 or 60 fps ranges from 2 Mbps to 3 Mbps so perfectly achievable but in reality it would still be quite tough.
The probabilities of having a perfect and stable connection is slim.
Watching a 720p stream would need at least 3 Mbps which is possible but unlikely unless you are sat right under a mast. Streaming a 1080p or above Twitch stream would be nigh on impossible. You simply would not have the download speed needed.
However, anything under that and the stream would appear choppy, buffer regularly and may skip frames so it wouldn’t be a pleasant experience for you.
However, if the question is “Can I stream Twitch with 3G” then the answer is yes, with caveats.
Could you go live on Twitch with a 3G connection
Yes, you could stream to Twitch with a 3G connection but with limitations. Upload speeds with a 3G connection would be 2mbps maximum which means you could in theory go live with a 480p 30fps stream.
But, a 2Mbps upload speed on a 3G connection is rare with the average being much lower than that. You would need to be very close to a 3G mast to accomplish this and the quality of your broadcast would be low.
Streaming a game is possibly out of your reach but streaming Just Chatting or just IRL may be good enough for viewers to enjoy to some extent.
How to improve stream quality on a 3G connection
If 3G really is the best you can get then are some settings you change whether you’re an user or content creator.
- Lower the resolution (user and creator) – This should be the first step, lowering the resolution reduced the bitrate needed to upload to Twitch. We recommend trying 720p first before going down the depths of 480p. If you’re an user wanting watch a stream then find a streamer streaming at these lower resolutions or manually change the quality of stream (if possible).
- Get closer to the signal source (user and creator) – Your device connects to 3G via a mast, a giant pole that is sometimes visible in a cluster of other masts. The closer you are the better the connection.
- Change OBS settings (creator) – OBS is the middleman between your content and Twitch. Changing the settings to limit the FPS and bitrate can do wonders with a poor connection, even 3G.
- Give up – Sometimes it’s just not meant to be. I’ve been in similar situations before trying to stream and eventually giving up and doing something else was the only thing I could do.
Why would people Twitch stream with 3G?
There are plenty of reasons why someone would want to watch Twitch or go live on Twitch on 3G. The most likely reasons is because they have no choice – they are in a place without WiFi or that their regular connection is cut off for whatever reason.
Not all Twitch streamers stream games, there are plenty of IRL and hot tub, pools and beaches channels where WiFi is just not there. Take IRL streamers for example who’s content may be travelling – they are likely to be permanently on a cellular connection when they stream, they may just get into an area where 3G is the only connection available.
Another example would be someone who regularly watches Twitch streams going on vacation somewhere without WiFi and only a 3G connection. If they’re bored at night they may just be wondering whether it’s possible or not.
For content creators who have a strict schedule they may want to stream by any means necessary, after all it may be their only income.
4G and 5G might be the norm nowadays but there are still plenty of places out there without these newer technologies.