Capacity crunch strategies: video optimisation tech gaining momentum
Teresa Cottam looks at why video optimisation technology is needed to help with the effects of the capacity crunch, and speaks to Mobixell’s Noam Green.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know by now that Telesperience does not believe there’s a single “right” answer to resolving the capacity crunch. Rather, we think that CSPs need to use a range of strategies in combination, and the strategies they choose will depend upon their individual circumstances, business model and plans.
Some of the strategies available to CSPs can be brought to bear quickly; others are mid-term or longer term options. However, one of the features of the capacity crunch that has been somewhat overlooked is the fact that neither CSPs nor customers are in control of the size of the content files they are being asked to carry or pay for. That’s down to the content provider. There is still little incentive for content providers to optimise file sizes, and over recent years files have most definitely “bloated” as we’ve moved to HD and then onwards to 3D. Netflix and the iPlayer are also very different “beasts” to short, low-quality YouTube videos.
As customers, we love our video though, even if we quickly become frustrated when it doesn’t work as we want it to. Sandvine, for example, recently revealed some research it had undertaken that showed that almost 30% of US downstream Internet traffic now originates from Netflix, with a third of European Internet coming from realtime entertainment and the BBC’s iPlayer accounting for 6.5% of traffic in the UK (see Sandvine’s Spring 2011 Global Internet Phenomena Report Reveals New Internet Trends).
This is serious enough stuff for fixed networks; but increasingly we’re all becoming mobile and much of what affects fixed networks today will affect mobile networks tomorrow. And “tomorrow” is coming quicker all the time, as mobile is becoming the de facto access method for many consumers at least at some points in their digital lifestyle. But what is often forgotten is that maintaining QoS on mobile networks is more challenging, and the economics are very different, to maintaining QoS on fixed networks.
There are a wide range of strategies that can be employed to help with this, above and beyond adding extra network capacity. We can use tariffing to monetise demand and also shape and shift it (see Traffic Shaping is Here to Stay (and is hasn’t ever gone away), we can “avoid” the problem by offloading it (see Mobile Data Offloading: could be smarter, needs to work harder), and we can use adaptive bandwidth technology (see Capacity Crunch Strategies: Adapt!).
Optimising the content itself is actually a very promising technique but, as I’ve noted, while content providers may eventually come to understand why optimising files is important for their businesses and their customers too, this isn’t going to be a short term win. On the other hand, mobile service providers now have a range of options when it comes to helping them optimise video traffic’s impact on their network but, at the same time, create a healthy new business for themselves. The key to this is monetising choice – do customers what standard quality, HD or 3D. Do they want guaranteed, even enhanced, QoS? This is something that customers can understand in a way they can’t understand per megabyte charging (which isn’t even fair because they have no control over the size of the content files, as we noted previously).
I discussed this recently with Mobixell’s Noam Green. And for those of you wondering if there’s demand for mobile video optimisation yet, there appears to be – Noam shared with us the fact that his firm is announcing ten customer wins in the last six months at Management World Dublin. So clearly there’s growing interest in this type of approach…