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Why does Netflix use TCP but not UDP for streaming video?

  • Difficulty Level : Expert
  • Last Updated : 21 Sep, 2021
Geek Week

Overview :
In this article, we will discuss about which technology Netflix uses for streaming online movies and web-series on its platform. Netflix is a American subscription based streaming service provider company. It is famous for streaming online videos, web-series and movies based on their subscription that their customers buy. There are basically two types of technologies used for online streaming services – UDP and TCP.

UDP – User Datagram Protocol :

  • It plays an important in computer networks in speeding up the efficiency of the network on websites that consume a lot of data.
  • Also, UDP is less secure than TCP but on the other hand, it is very much faster.
  • UDP technically, is independent of source and destination of the end-to-end transfer of data packets using “three-way handshake technique.”
  • The main purpose of UDP is for fast and reliable internet applications usage and data transfer and don’t require data verification and security services.
  • UDP has very less bandwidth and latency which makes it work even in terrific network connections.
  • When a large number of users the information at a particular time, so we need to manage the traffic and show responses to their queries, we use UDP in areas like gaming, video streaming, online meetings.

TCP – Transmission Control Protocol :

  • The basic use of TCP is to deliver data packets from the server to the target computer.
  • TCP works on the overhead of IP to ensure bulk internet connectivity and transfer them in correct order and also they get delivered in the same order.
  • TCP lags in latency and data fluctuation on the data consuming applications.
  • The most important feature of TCP is that it maintains its large focus on data security and verification options.
  • When UDP sends data packets process-to-process messages which are not secure, TCP uses host-to-host messaging to enable safe and secure environmental network.
  • TCP is reliable for online streaming services as the customer’s data is completely secure and kept in safe hands.
  • TCP enables IP header in order to produce error-free and corrupt-less data in ordered manner, so that receiver does not face any issue.

Why Netflix uses TCP but not UDP : 
Netflix uses TCP because TCP is much time-sensitive and does not require port forwarding. It helps to enable the full bandwidth of the network. We can compress more data at once in TCP and also reloaded data packets do not pose a problem. It also ensures higher video quality and less network congestion problems. TCP reduces buffering and Real-time streaming problems using end-to-end connection. Online streaming services like Netflix focus on pre-fetching and buffering even before viewers watch it. TCP’s online congestion control try to divert traffic by creating different links at same time. It also ensures error recovery and problem identification in case of malware or failure by retransmission of data packets. The most important reason for using TCP is that it is very easy to monitor the bandwidth between the source and receiver, and adapt the video quality of the streaming shows according to that.

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