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Streaming media is streaming video with audio. With streaming video or streaming media, a Web user doesn’t need to wait to download a large file before seeing the video or listening to the audio. Rather, the media is sent in a continuous stream and is played as it arrives. The user needs a player, and it is a unique program that uncompresses and sends video data to the display and audio data to speakers. A player may be either an integral part of a browser or downloaded from the website.

(The program that does the compression and decompression may be known as the codec.) But for most Web users, the streaming video will probably be restricted to the data rates of the connection (by way of instance, up to 128 Kbps with an ISDN link). Microsoft’s streaming media files are in its Advanced Streaming Format (ASF).

Streaming video is usually sent from prerecorded video files, but may be distributed as part of a live broadcast “feed.” At a live broadcast, the video signal is converted into a compressed digital signal and transmitted from a special Web server that can do multicast, sending the identical file to multiple users at precisely the same moment.

Streaming media is audio and video which is sent on the Internet in a streaming or continuous fashion, using information packets. The best reception of streaming media requires some broadband technology such as cable modem or DSL. A package is the unit of data that is routed between an origin and a destination on the Internet or some other packet-switched network. When any document (email message, HTML file, Graphics Interchange Format file, URL – Uniform Recourse Locater ask, etc.) is sent from 1 spot to another on the Internet, the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) layer of TCP/IP divides the file into “chunks” of an efficient size for routing. Each of these packets is separately numbered and includes the Internet address of their destination. The individual packets for a given file may travel unique routes through the Internet. When they have all arrived, they are reassembled into the original file (by the TCP layer at the receiving end).

A packet-switching strategy is an effective way to handle transmissions on a connectionless network like the Internet. An alternate strategy, circuit-switched, is used for networks allocated for voice connections. In circuit-switching, lines in the network are shared among many users as with packet-switching, but each connection requires the dedication of a specific path for the length of the relationship. “Packet” and “datagram” are similar in meaning. A protocol like TCP, the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) uses the term datagram.

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