Industry Blog

How to Manage Video Congestion Holistically in a Mobile Network

On November 15 we participated in RCR Wireless’s webinar, hosted by RCR CEO Jeff Mucci, on managing mobile video congestion.  Openwave Mobility’s VP Product Management, Marketing & Strategy, Indranil Chatterjee appeared alongside Strategy Analytics’ Susan Welsh de Grimaldo and Sandvine’s Chris Frederick. Here are a few highlights from the discussion.

Strategy Analytics – Susan Welsh de Grimaldo
Susan discussed how important it was for mobile operators to get in front of the wave of video traffic and take control of mobile video optimization now.

In recent research, Strategy Analytics found that the mobile devices are still the volume driver for mobile data consumption. She found the main reasons why users do not watch video on their smartphone is due to the display being too small or a general lack of interest in video. However, the introduction of larger devices and tablets with better screen resolution is encouraging video viewing.

She also highlighted that more video use does not necessarily equal greater spend per user. In fact she predicted that while video usage will soar, the average spend per user will continue to decrease. As a result, Susan said it was vital that mobile operators work at reducing their cost base. She explained that operators could address this issue using intelligent video optimization.

Susan revealed that mobile operators are judged on the quality of their video experience on their networks therefore it is vital that they offer subscribers the best video experience possible to ensure loyalty. If operators use smart optimization and only optimize when necessary, the Quality of Experience (QoE) can be greatly enhanced while improving operator revenues.

Openwave Mobility – Indranil Chatterjee
Indranil was next to talk. Indranil’s started by discussing why mobile operators need video optimization. From experience, the main issues that drive video optimization take-up are improving subscriber Quality of Experience and managing CAPEX and OPEX.

Indranil went on to highlight how some vendors’ figures surrounding video optimization can be very misleading. Some vendors claim to reduce traffic by 70%. However this is includes optimizing in areas in which no congestion exists. It is important that video optimization is congestion-aware and only active in areas of high traffic, because only this results in real CAPEX savings.

One major consideration of video optimization is ensuring the video quality (QOE) remains high. Content-aware compression ensures this by taking into account the type of video and speed of frames to ensure that any impact is as minimal as possible. It is also important that the video optimization is suitable to the device – dependant on screen resolutions and the device capabilities.

Indranil stated that it is vital the solutions that are deployed are future-proof and need to focus on how to monetize traffic.

Sandvine – Chris Frederick
Quoting from Sandvine’s recent industry report (Global Internet Phenomena) Chris explained exactly how mobile data usage continues to rise and that real-time entertainment, such as streamed video and audio, is clearly dominant. Sandvine predicts that by 2015, real-time entertainment will account for 60% of mobile traffic. He also explained that live events will be increasingly viewed from mobile devices. Using the 2012 Olympics as an example, at times 20% of network traffic was streaming Olympic video data. From this he predicted that the 2014 World Cup will be the most streamed event in Internet history.

Chris then explained how Sandvine has integrated its Policy Traffic Switch (PTS) with Openwave Mobility’s video optimization solution, Media Optimizer to build  a best of breed industry solution. The PTS recognizes subscriber and content type, depending on business rules and network conditions, and steers only appropriate video traffic to Media Optimizer for best in class optimization.

Chris stated that video is the most important category of traffic on networks today and echoed Susan’s earlier point that most subscribers gauge the network’s quality depending on the quality of video that they receive. Therefore it is vital that operators provide a high video quality at all times to reduce churn.

A final word on LTE

All the participants agreed that LTE will not be a long-term savior for mobile operators and will allay congestion concerns only for a short period. Although LTE will immediately increase bandwidth, it will quickly be filled as subscribers turn to even more bandwidth-hungry high definition video streaming and other real-time entertainment services. Therefore operators will still have to deal with congestion through video and network optimization solutions.

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It is clear that mobile operators need to act now to ensure that video optimization is in place and moreover that it is the right type of video optimization to ensure the best mobile video experience now and in the future.

The webinar may be viewed in full here: watch the Openwave Mobility Webinar on Demand