AT&T and Apple finally allowed iPhone apps to stream video over 3G, but now they're enacting a new condition: To get approved, Justin.TV's new iPhone app needed a low quality video stream to downgrade to during periods of network congestion.
In other words, video apps will apparently need to be able to adapt to network conditions, switching to a less bandwidth intensive stream if the network's blown out, or the phone's on a slower network, like EDGE. In Justin.TV's case, they added a 64kbps low-quality stream as the alternate to the 200kbps higher quality stream.
Adaptive bitrates for streaming video have been standard for iPhone apps with "long-form video" or live streams, says TechCrunch, but the move with Justin.TV indicates that it's just going to a standard practice—which is totally logical. More phones land in people's hands everyday that record and stream video, and the data explosion is just beginning. Just look at this chart of wireless data growth, and extrapolate out what that'll mean when phones like the Evo can record 720p video that people will want to upload to YouTube or stream:
And the bandwidth crunch AT&T and other carriers face is two-fold: The issue with overload in many cases isn't just the spectrum—which 4G wireless data with help with, obviously—it's the backhaul, the pipes that actually supply internets to your phone via cell towers. (It's why Time Warner's offering to sell bandwidth to AT&T and Verizon.) So yeah, making video a little skinnier so it doesn't clog the pipes when they're already filled with stuff just makes sense. [TechCrunch]