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Posts Tagged ‘CDN’

Extending the CDN – How Policy on Smart Devices Can Enable Telcos to Add Value

Written by GoS on . Posted in Blog

Speakers at the recent Mobile Video Optimisation event in Berlin agreed that the mobile cell is the next critical area for delivering high quality video services. At this point in the mobile network, the lowest common denominator rules. And yet, analysts are united in their predictions that mobile video consumption will enjoy spectacular growth – the only debate concerns the rate.

But if this growth is to be enjoyed with the quality of experience levels demanded by users, the network has to evolve to cope. At present, OTT video providers either leverage their own CDNs or form partnerships with specialist providers. Telcos that are entering the fray are building their own ‘telco CDNs’ or partnering with other providers. The point of the CDN is to bring content closer to the user, to reduce traffic across the network or the complexities of server connectivity. This is fine as far as it goes, but it still leaves the delivery subject to the conditions in the last mile or in the RAN.

There are a number of ways in which content delivery can be optimised for users in the RAN. One such that has attracted considerable attention is WiFi offload – many mobile subscribers automatically connect to WiFi networks as soon as they find one and MNOs can leverage this in several ways. By offloading bulk data delivery to WiFi networks, MNOs can save costs and, where the WiFi network offers a higher bandwidth connection than is available in the RAN, they can deliver a better user experience.

There are also moves afoot to bring content servers directly to the base stations as well as proposals to implement caching on user devices so that content can be delivered more economically, intelligently and efficiently. Such an approach can provide optimised pre-loading of user targeted content (either through promotions tied to analysis of viewer behaviour and viewing patterns) or based on explicit preferences that are expressed by the user. Either way, off-peak delivery and use of WiFi networks can be leveraged to reduce content delivery costs.

Extending policy enforcement and monitoring to smart devices enables policies to be established to enhance user experience where they are needed – on user devices where content is actually experienced – while, at the same time, remaining fully integrated with the overall network policy control and analytics framework. Although this remains some way off, there’s no question that smart devices will have a crucial role to play in managing video content delivery and optimising the user experience.

Given the growth forecast for video traffic and despite advances in network coverage and bandwidth due to the rollout of LTE, technologies such as adaptive bitrate codecs and high definition video present challenges. Adaptive bitrate is, by definition, unpredictable and MNOs cannot easily predict consumption. It’s even more difficult with capped mobile data plans, as the user may not be aware that changes to the codec may consume more of their allowance mid-session. However, this opens up the potential for increased dynamic control of bearer connections for real-time content delivery and increased bandwidth on a per session or mid-session basis. If more bandwidth is required for HD, then mechanisms need to be in place to provide such capacity and to inform the user if this has an impact on their data plans. This can be achieved more effectively and efficiently once policy monitoring and enforcement is available on smart devices.

Extending policy control functions to devices is essential in a world in which video traffic dominates mobile data consumption. Local caching will depend on close integration with policy engines to control delivery, charging and consumption monitoring – as well as quality. MNOs need to consider how to address this issue now to plan for the growth in consumption so that they pre-empt these issues. As has been proven time and time again with migrations to higher-bandwidth technologies, once LTE is available, users will find ways to consume more data – and MNOs need to be ready to support this at all levels.

Of course, MNOs will capitalise on such measures, but they also present opportunities to forge partnerships with other CDN providers. Since telcos and MNOs effectively dominate in the last mile (or cell), they are uniquely placed to provide solutions that can help CDNs as mobile video consumption gathers pace.

Why not talk to GoS Networks and find out how integrating policy enforcement and monitoring to smart devices can help manage and enhance the mobile video experience?

Extending the PCC Framework for Device Based Policy Enforcement. #PolicyControl #Telecom

Written by GoS on . Posted in Blog

At the recent Policy Control and Real-time Charging event in Berlin, Alex Harmand, from the Group CTO office of Telefonica presented a view of the future needs for policy evolution and gave an idea of where he thinks it’s headed.

Among other points, he suggested that there was a need for local caching of content on devices, rather than in the CDN. Such caching would be controlled by a local policy enforcement point, deployed on smart devices. We’ve heard this view before, but it’s interesting to see it discussed in a public forum. The rationale behind such caching is to enable operators to download more content at off-peak hours, so as to help spread network load and alleviate potential congestion during busy hour periods.

In such a model, users would effectively be subscribers to a particular movie or television programme and would be delivered the content ready for them to access when they like. Of course, the idea suggests different models for charging. For example, a user could pay a normal subscription for such a delivery method, but a premium if they want something more immediately – in other words, those who can’t wait could be offered the chance to jump the queue on payment of an additional fee.

On the other hand, this model also enables to the network operator to offer policy capabilities to third party content and CDN providers, further extending the possibilities that the evolving policy framework can offer. Being able to control policy on devices while remaining integrated with the network policy function clearly delivers advantages here.

What’s interesting is that some of the things we’ve talked about in laboratory discussions are coming more and more to the fore. We see a great fit for this and many other use cases but it all depends on ensuring there is a single, extensible architecture from the smart device to the PCRF and charging systems. Once in place, the same platforms can be used to support an increasing variety of use cases.

Of course, the models need to be worked out in more detail, but the role of device based policy enforcement is critical to this. It opens up a range of applications and we’ll comment on some of these novel areas and use cases in future posts.

Despite Slowdown, Capacity Investment Still Required

Written by GoS on . Posted in Blog

A recent report from Telegeography has captured the headlines, as it points to a slowdown in the growth of Internet capacity. To some, this means that the data ‘tsunami’ is mythical and that we are victims of yet more hype in the industry.

But this misses the point completely. Yes, growth rates have slowed, but overall capacity requirements have more than doubled in the last two years, as this chart clearly shows.

Traffic volumes continue to grow rapidly, particularly as higher-speed broadband connectivity is rolled out. The advent of LTE will also have a significant impact in the next few years.

As the authors point out, “even with the use of CDNs and caching technologies, the compounding effect of rapid traffic growth will continue to require carriers to make considerable investments to expand network capacity”.

In other words, traffic and capacity requirements are still growing and we can’t ignore the problem. Misinterpreting data doesn’t let anyone off the hook or make the problem disappear.

Operators and carriers still have to plan ahead for how to manage traffic growth – in the core as well as in the access. In addition to considering the provision of additional capacity, what they need to do is consider ways to manage bandwidth more efficiently before it reaches the network. This means delivering policy enforcement and optimisation solutions to mobile devices.

By managing traffic in the RAN, user experience can be optimised cost-effectively ensuring that capacity investments are delivered more efficiently.