How mobile video analytics enables operators to survive and thrive
It’s hard to overstate how important the rise and rise of video is to mobile operators. Mobile data video streaming is on track to hit 49 exabytes per month by 2021. If you’re wondering how much that equates to, it is roughly around 13 trillion clips…that would be a lot of cat videos!
In reality, that quantity of video streaming does not comprise of just warm, fuzzy or funny YouTube clips. As smartphone screen quality and network speeds improve, the real revolution has been in video streaming from the likes of Netflix, Hulu and of course YouTube. While the role of online content providers is well recognised in transforming the amount of video over mobile networks, consumers’ appetite for streaming certainly isn’t stopping at their favorite box set.
Celebrity live-streaming (like Katy Perry’s recent weekend of broadcasting to promote her new album) and the ever-popular area of online gaming and live gaming will consume precious network bandwidth. In less than three years, three quarters of all mobile traffic will be video content, says Indranil Chatterjee, SVP of Product & Sales at Openwave Mobility.
Operators are left in a dark place
The strain on operators will be immense. Many will argue that it is already immense. To understand the extent of the challenge, just factor in how the changes to encryption policies are affecting traffic management.
For instance, Google’s QUIC encryption protocol was introduced in July 2016 to support its YouTube app. Within just four months the level of QUIC-coated data on mobile networks rose by 200%. Others are following Google’s lead and Facebook has now come up with its own QUIC equivalent – O-RTT protocol. By the end of next year in some areas of the world up to 80% of all mobile data traffic will be encrypted, presenting operators with the thorny issue of how to handle these dark pipes.
Every second (of buffering) counts
The insatiable appetite for video comes hand in hand with a raising of the bar in overall Quality of Experience (QoE). Research conducted recently in North America, Europe and the Middle East gathered insight on people’s mobile video habits and gripes when it comes to QoE. Subscribers revealed that they would only put up with six seconds of video buffering.
Anymore, and they lose interest in the video and abandon it in frustration. Whom do you think they blame for the poor video quality? Mobile operators. And if they consistently suffer from bad quality, subscribers will ditch their operator in favor of a competitor.
Better insights needed urgently
If operators are to succeed at managing the rising tide of video and encryption, it is imperative that they stay ahead of OTTs and consumer behaviors. Operators need a way to gather data and make informed decisions on how to manage their mobile networks.
Video is not the only challenge, making this a tough job for network providers. Consider the rise and ubiquity in mobile messaging, for instance. Whereas messages used to be text-based, they can now comprise of pictures and video. Operators require technology that gives them insight on the precise type of data travelling on the network even when the traffic is encrypted. That’s where accurate video streaming analytics can make a crucial difference.
The traditional, appliance-based Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) approach is now all but defunct in the face of encrypted video streaming. At any given point, operators need to ascertain quickly if the content on their networks is from Netflix, Amazon, YouTube or any other source.
What definition is the video? Is it being live streamed or downloaded? What codec is being used to deliver the video? What device is the video being delivered to? They are all critical questions for mobile operators and you simply cannot rely on static fields such as SNI that traditional DPI vendors do. To gain insight with analytics, operators need pure software solutions that can manage streaming video.
Finally, some good news. These new traffic management solutions are available now and will give operators a leg-up in stepping up to the task of managing even faster network speeds, say from 5G networks. They are designed to be software-based and agile with heuristics for encrypted video and virtualised so they can be easily deployed in the cloud.
The new approach to traffic management and software DPI that can be deployed in the operator’s NFV Cloud, can go beyond network monitoring. The data they glean can be made to work even harder for network providers, effectively turning the technology into a revenue-generating point enabling application-based metering plans or promotional add-on services.
And now for even better news! While it is true that subscribers hold operators responsible for video quality, research shows that subscribers are also willing to pay more for good quality video. The CEO of Huawei recently identified mobile video as a trillion dollar opportunity. Isn’t it high time operators took a closer look at video analytics? There are a trillion reasons to do so.
The author of this blog is Indranil Chatterjee, SVP of Product & Sales at Openwave Mobility
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