The recent Heavy Reading report, "Mobile Video Optimization- the Second Wave," outlines how video optimization is evolving from a technology and business perspective and the different approaches vendors are taking. While the full report requires a subscription, even the summary is worth checking out.
We thought we would spend some time talking through some of the main points in the report and how they relate to the Vantrix approach over a series of blog posts. Some of the specific points we are covering are highlighted in the table of contents for the report, which you do not need a subscription to view.
Let’s start with the title of the report. Are we in the 'second wave' of mobile video optimization? According to Heavy Reading:
"After two years when MVO meant "compress all video to reduce the pressure on network capacity," MVO is now entering its second phase as operators begin to consider how delivery of OTT content can be monetized through optimized delivery that maximizes the user's QoE according to policy and under conditions of network congestion." From Danny Dicks, Analyst-Heavy Reading
I can definitely say from the Vantrix perspective we do agree we have moved into a new phase of video optimization. But what does this mean? What exactly has changed? How did we get to this second phase? Let's consider the ingredients that feed into video optimization and some of the recent changes for each ingredient:
- Ingredient #1: The User- User behavior continues to change and evolve. The trend towards data-thirsty smartphones and tablets is not new, but within the last couple of years we have seen a tremendous escalation in data consumption driven primarily by video, and that is not expected to taper off anytime soon.
- Ingredient #2: The Network- Service providers continue to expand the capacity of their networks with higher capacity networks such as 4G/LTE as well as Wi-Fi offload, but often this is not enough, especially during peak usage periods. Additionally, many users respond to a faster network by consuming more video.
- Ingredient #3: The Content- More and more content is 'Over-The-Top (OTT)' content from providers such as YouTube and Netflix, putting pressure on service provider networks while limiting the ability to monetize the traffic.
- Ingredient #4: Content Delivery Protocols- Sure, this probably could fit under Ingredient 3 above, but I think it is worth breaking out separately because of some important changes in the way content is delivered. Adaptive Streaming protocols (like HLS, HSS and DASH) are becoming more common; they rely on client-side capabilities to change the encoding rate based on network conditions. This has the potential to impact the strategies service providers use in delivering content to users since the client has the potential to make decisions that conceivably could conflict with the service provider. Additionally, adaptive streaming clients themselves are selfish and will push for the highest available bitrate, leading to potential competition in a congested cell and lower bandwidth for additional clients.
So as you can see, each of the ingredients above is changing. What does this mean for service providers? The quick recap: more mobile devices consuming more data, at a rate faster than service providers can add capacity to their networks, and the data increasingly consists of OTT video that they don’t control.
What does this mean for video optimization? While there is probably not a standard definition for the 'first wave' of video optimization, the generally accepted meaning is that all traffic is optimized to maximize the bandwidth available on the network. When you look at the changes we listed above, you start to see why this approach has become inadequate. If a service provider is increasingly delivering content that they don't control, their path to monetization is based on the amount of data delivered. They may not want a solution that decreases the data delivered to users. Additionally, the changes to things like adaptive streaming may make some approaches to optimization less relevant.
What service providers have started to ask for is the ability to turn optimization on and off based on real-time traffic conditions and the delivery protocols in use. They need a more efficient way to deliver and implement video optimization that simultaneously offers a greater focus on the user experience in order to keep users happy and consuming more data.
In upcoming blog posts in this series, we’re going to look at these requirements in more depth, how they’re driving the next wave of video optimization and how Vantrix is innovating to meet the changing needs of service providers. To learn more about the products available from Vantrix, please check out the solutions section of our website.
You can learn more about the Heavy Reading report at: http://www.heavyreading.com/4glte/ and you can view the table of contents with report highlights at: http://twimgs.com/audiencedevelopment/LRHR/PDFS/4gltei1113_toc.pdf