Industry Blog

Hyperscalers, their growing impact, and what it means for mobile operators

Time to read: 3 minutes

If network operators thought they already had their work cut out with the current geopolitical climate and the risk of state-sponsored cyber warfare, and Wi-Fi tying the knot with 5G – hyperscalers would like a word. With mobile data traffic increasing and video now accounting for a staggering 70% of it, it’s hardly surprising that hyperscaler companies such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Meta are now in the driving seat. But what’s the end game? And what might this mean long-term for mobile operators?

We attempt to answer these questions and more in our report which reveals the top 7 industry-shaping trends impacting mobile operators in 2022. Our first trend focused on how mobile networks are becoming an increasingly valuable target for state-sponsored espionage and disruption. Next up, we’re talking hyperscalers.

Hyper…what?

Video conferencing, gaming and streaming are unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon, content platforms such as Meta and YouTube are calling the shots with their own proprietary protocols shaped around their users as they try to dominate on experience. They all want to deliver a secure high-performance service with ultra-low latency.  From reducing wait time for search results to reducing the buffer time on a video, every optimization byte/nibble gained has a positive knock-on effect when it comes to user experience. This, coupled with the added need for encryption and security, has given way to hyperscaler data centers (and protocols) that can manage traffic and deliver cloud computing in a way that’s scalable, flexible and continuously optimized.

Quite how the hyperscaler market fits into mobile carriers’ vision of the future is a contentious issue. Hyperscalers are taking huge strides into the mobile data space, much to the frustration of operators, and in 2022 those strides are only like to get wider.

More than a QUIC fix

A few years ago, nobody had even heard of the acronym housing an abbreviation that was QUIC (Quick UDP Internet Connections). Fast forward to 2022, and we’re now predicting that QUIC will account for roughly 45% of all mobile video traffic.

Much of QUIC’s meteoric rise to success is owed to its roots in UDP, which outcompetes TPC when it comes to low-latency delivery scenarios such as live video streams. Indeed, QUIC has proved so effective, that Meta even came up with their own version, “Move Fast”, bizarrely shortened to mvfst. Still, at least it has a more original name than Microsoft’s version, MsQUIC. The point to take away is that the improvements in performance offered by hyperscalers are undisputed, and they’re not going anywhere.

Blinded by the light

According to our estimates when carrying out deployments, we estimate that around 95% of all mobile data traffic will be encrypted by the end of the year. Just like QUIC, encryption’s rise to prominence has been lightning-fast, largely due to the decisions being made by hyperscalers.

Deep encryption is also on the cards, and even though its rollout is being slowed somewhat by political concerns such as the need for countries to be able to identify domains in the interests of crime prevention, it feels inevitable. Operators should therefore be prepared to have the wool pulled over their eyes with regards to data traffic, so rendering traffic filtering, parental controls and even video acceleration all but useless.

What is reassuring, however, is that studies out there demonstrate that consumers are far more inclined to trust their mobile operator more than their social media platform of choice. That, combined with the increased reliability of mobile networks and the prospect of government regulation around deep encryption, do offer at least some light at the end of the tunnel for mobile operators.

Download this year’s report: 7 Trends That Will Shape the Mobile Industry In 2022.