Industry Blog

Livecast explores key traffic trends, technology implications for mobile video

As mobile operators deploy 5G networks with an eye toward developing next-generation services that will result in new, long-term revenue opportunities, it’s vital that they consider and plan for the impact of mobile video. In the first of its kind, The Mobile Video Industry Council ran a Livecast in partnership with Openwave Mobility to discuss the trends operators can expect in 4G and 5G. The event had over 50 operators in attendance including Vodafone, Orange, Deutsche Telekom, Verizon, AT&T and Telefonica. Analysts from Analysys Mason, Strategy Analytics and ABI Research also contributed their own research to the event.

What to watch in 2019: The rise of video traffic consumption is now being driven by the demand for higher quality video as much as increased watch time / demand. The demand for 4K video will continue to increase, as manufacturers ship 4K video-ready devices and video applications like YouTube support 4K video streams from users. Another key factor this year centers around how mobile operators will address capacity planning for live contents, such as soccer tournaments. Live events impact mobile user behavior in a variety of unique ways that impact capacity planning. Furthermore, operators must grapple with new devices and event schedules when planning capacity around such events. Finally, 2019 will be a key year for operators to address the multitudinous ways in which the rise of encryption impacts capacity planning.

Changes to how quality is measured and managed: Operators face increased challenges to ensuring quality of experience (QoE) for mobile video, as well. Because mobile data traffic patterns are so irregular, capacity planning is more challenging. Additional complexity is created by HD video, which requires up to four times more bandwidth than standard video and encrypted over-the-top (OTT) traffic. Another key quality metric is driven by the fact that consumers tend to base their concept of video quality on the length of time it takes to access video content.

A survey conducted during the Livecast revealed that most operators reduce the quality of picture and improve quality of delivery when it comes to managing RAN congestion. Research shows that majority of consumers consider Quality of Delivery (ie buffering stuttering) to be much more important than Quality of Picture (resolution). Of course this also depend on the type of video being streamed (eg sports gaming, or drama) and as such, operators are having to walk a fine line between video picture quality and video delivery quality.

What to expect from 5G: While operators are excited about the revenue potential from new 5G services, they need to ensure they’re prepared for the new challenges that those networks create. While video will become even more important in a 5G network, the types of video supported will change dramatically. For instance, 5G’s low latency will drive demand for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) services.

Another example is the impact that 5G will have on mobile gaming, which currently has very little impact on mobile networks. However 5G networks will fully empower cloud gaming, and gamers will expect 4K video. To support 4K video, operator networks will need extremely low latency and the ability to support three- to four-times more speed than is needed for HD video. No wonder most operators attending the Livecast anticipate that cloud gaming could be 25% – 50% of 5G traffic by 2022. That is only three years away – it is all to play for!

Register to watch the full MVIC Livecast which is available exclusively for mobile operators. To supplement the Livecast, download the spring 2019 edition of the Mobile Video Index. It reveals what’s really happening on mobile networks today based on live data from mobile operators around the globe.