Mobile Video, OTT and payTV
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Mobile Video, OTT and payTV
OTT Video - Video everywhere - Multi-screen TV - Mobile video
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Nokia Technologies in VR deal with Disney 

Nokia Technologies has struck an agreement with The Walt Disney Studios to provide technology to support the creation of virtual reality content to complement the company’s cinema releases.

Nokia Technologies will provide its OZO virtual reality camera and associated software to give Disney marketers and filmmakers tools to create engaging VR content.

As part of the agreement, Nokia Technologies will work with Disney to provide equipment and VR technologies to support the creation of special VR content for a range of Disney films. Most recently, Nokia and Disney used OZO to create two 360 videos for the April premiere of Disney’s The Jungle Book – the red carpet and cast interview.

“We are very excited to collaborate with Nokia Technologies to help explore the creation of VR content for our theatrical releases,” said Jamie Voris, chief technology officer, The Walt Disney Studios. “We aim to bring extraordinary experiences to audiences around the world, and specially-created VR content is one more way we can transport people even further into the worlds our filmmakers create.”

Ramzi Haidamus, president at Nokia Technologies, said: “Virtual Reality represents a new frontier in storytelling, and we’re thrilled to be bringing this VR technology to the team at Disney. OZO will help Disney bring their film properties to life in new ways through immersive entertainment experiences, and our focus will be on helping them get the most out of VR as they begin to uncover all that it has to offer.”
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Vasona Networks Raises $14.6M in Series C Venture Capital Funding

Vasona Networks Raises $14.6M in Series C Venture Capital Funding | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
Vasona Networks, Inc., a San Jose, CA-based provider of platforms for mobile network capacity, resource management and edge intelligence, raised $14.6m in Series C funding round.

Backers included Bessemer Venture Partners, New Venture Partners and NexStar Partners.

The company, which has raised $48m in total, intends to use the funds to continue to expand its international deployment and increase its research and development efforts.

Founded in 2010 and led by CEO Biren Sood, Vasona Networks works with global mobile network operators on improving mobile broadband experiences via the SmartAIR™1000 edge application controller that addresses congestion conditions in real time and via the SmartVISION™ analysis suite for visibility about application activities within each cell of a network. The company recently introduced the SmartAIR Edge Services Platform, which virtualizes functionality of existing offerings and Guided Video Rate and improve communications between content providers and mobile network operators to reduce stalls in streaming video content.
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Ofcom: EE best UK mobile operator for video streaming

Ofcom: EE best UK mobile operator for video streaming | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
EE is the leading UK mobile operator for watching YouTube content online, according to new research by Ofcom.

The UK broadcast regulator’s Smartphone Cities report said that a test clip successfully streamed in high definition in 97% of attempts on EE’s 4G network, compared with 87% on Three, 86% on Vodafone and 85% on O2.

The video clip, which was the trailer for the James Bond film Spectre, failed to load at all on 7% of occasions on O2, while EE had the lowest failure rate, at 1%.

The Ofcom study, which was conducted in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London and Norwich, found EE to lead its competitors across a number of tests.

In terms of download speeds, EE was the fastest with an average speed of 20 Mbps on a 4G tariff, followed by Three at 15Mbps, Vodafone at 12Mbps and O2 at 10Mbps.

On average EE also had the most consistent 4G download speed performance. Speeds in excess of 2Mbps were delivered in 92% of tests, compared with 87% for Three, 82% for Vodafone and 69% for O2.

In addition, the BBC homepage loaded quickest on EE’s 4G network, taking five seconds compared with six seconds for all of the other operators.

“The UK is increasingly becoming a smartphone society, with 70% of all adults owning a smartphone, making the performance of mobile networks more important than ever,” said Ofcom.

Overall it said that 4G services provided faster download speeds than 3G services consistently and across all networks, with the average 4G download speed 17Mbps compared to 6Mbps for 3G technology.

The news comes a day after Ofcom revealed that BT was the most complained about pay TV service provider in the UK during  Q4 2015, receiving 15 complaints for every 100,000 pay TV customers compared to an industry average of just four.
Patrick Lopez's insight:
I have mentioned for the last two years that video quality will be a defining factor in consumer network loyalty in the future, it's starting to happen now.
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Netflix to launch ‘data saver’ feature for mobile apps 

Netflix to launch ‘data saver’ feature for mobile apps  | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
Netflix is due to launch a “data saver” feature designed to help users control their data use when streaming content over mobile networks.

The feature for Netflix’s mobile apps is due to launch in May and will let users either stream more video under a smaller data plan, or increase their video quality if they have a higher data plan.

“We believe restrictive data caps are bad for consumers and the internet in general, creating a dilemma for those who increasingly rely on their mobile devices for entertainment, work and more,” said Netflix.

“In an effort to protect our members from overage charges when they exceed mobile data caps, our default bitrate for viewing over mobile networks has been capped globally at 600 kilobits per second. It’s about striking a balance that ensures a good streaming experience while avoiding unplanned fines from mobile providers.”

Netflix said that according to its own research, many subscribers worry about exceeding their mobile data cap and “don’t need the same resolution on their mobile phone as on a large screen TV to enjoy shows and movies”.

“As we develop new technologies, we want to give all our members the choice to adjust their data consumption settings based on their video preferences and sensitivity to their ISPs data overage charges. We’ll provide more details as we get closer to launch,” said Netflix.
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T-Mobile adds YouTube, adult content and more to Binge On

T-Mobile adds YouTube, adult content and more to Binge On | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) finally added YouTube to Binge On, filling a noticeable void that existed since the program's launch in November. But that isn't the only new Binge On content partner that's sure to raise eyebrows.

YouTube generates the largest amount of data traffic among all mobile applications, according to Strategy Analytics, but its content hadn't been included in T-Mobile's Binge On until today due to technical reasons.

YouTube dominates total data traffic (including Wi-Fi and cellular) in the "entertainment" category among Strategy Analytics' AppOptix U.S. Android sample.

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And Google's online video property complained in December that T-Mobile's zero-rated mobile video service degraded all mobile video, not just the content from providers that are part of the program.

T-Mobile has also been criticized for not being sufficiently transparent about its Binge On policies with users. But YouTube Product Management Director Christian Kleinerman wrote on Google's Public Policy Blog today that the carrier has made progress by making it easier for users to opt out of Binge On, incurring full data charges in exchange for the ability to access higher-quality video.

The operator is also working to give video providers more control over their own content, according to YouTube.

"While T-Mobile has always stated that any video service can join the program at no charge, prior to our discussions, video services were not given a choice about whether their streams would be managed by T-Mobile if they didn't not join the program," Kleinerman wrote in announcing YouTube's support of Binge On. "Going forward, any video service meeting traffic-identification requirements will be able to opt-out, and T-Mobile will stop including them in the Binge On program and will no longer modify their video streams. In addition, T-Mobile will now work with video services that wish to optimize their own streams, using an average data rate limit. This allows video services to offer users an improved video experience, even at lower data rates, by taking advantage of innovations such as video compression technology, benefiting T-Mobile, their customers, and video providers."

YouTube is one of several new Binge On partners T-Mobile announced; others include Discovery GO, Fox Business and Red Bull TV. But the carrier was noticeably circumspect about the apparent new addition of MiKandi, a self-described "adult app store" offering adult-themed videos, games, comics and chat. MiKandi wasn't listed as a new provider in T-Mobile's announcement, but a spokesperson confirmed that it is the first adult content provider to apply to the program and meet the technical requirements.

"As we said at launch, we're committed to free and open Internet, and part of that commitment means Binge On is open to any lawful video service that would like to join and meets our technical requirements," the spokesperson said in confirming the addition of MiKandi.

For more:
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Amazon looks to add VR to Amazon Video

Amazon looks to add VR to Amazon Video | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
Amazon is working to add a “Virtual Reality experience within Amazon Video”, according to a job ad posted to US recruitment site Glassdoor.

The web giant is looking for a senior software development manager to lead its Virtual Reality (VR) team, according to the ad for the California-based post.

“Entertainment is evolving rapidly. The future will not be limited to passive 2D experiences,” according to Amazon.

“The Virtual Reality team will explore and create the platform and interface for immersive storytelling. This will include an ingestion and playback platform for Virtual Reality experiences.”

The news, which was reported first by VR news site UploadVR, comes less than a month after Facebook said it is setting up a dedicated social VR team and announced plans to launch its 360-degree video streaming technology on Samsung Gear VR headsets.

Google is also developing an “all-in-one virtual reality headset” that runs independent of a smartphone, games console or computer, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report, and has reportedly set up a dedicated Virtual Reality (VR) division and has appointed company executive Clay Bavor to run the unit.

Virtual Reality will celebrate its first billion-dollar year in 2016, driven by approximately US$700 million (€645 million) in global hardware sales, according to Deloitte. The professional services firm’s ‘Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions 2016’ report claims that approximately 2.5 million VR headsets and 10 million games will be sold this year.
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Facebook's live video push sure to spur data traffic on mobile networks

Facebook's live video push sure to spur data traffic on mobile networks | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) has altered an algorithm to push live video streams to the top of users' news feeds. And the move is sure to ramp up traffic on mobile networks.

Facebook launched its Live Video feature for iOS users in January, and the offering is gradually being deployed on Android devices. The Periscope-like offering enables users to broadcast live video to other Facebook users and watch the broadcasts of others without needing a separate app.

"Now that more and more people are watching Live videos, we are considering Live Videos as a new content type -- different from normal videos -- and learning how to rank them for people in News Feed," Facebook employees Vibhi Kant and Jie Xu wrote in a blog post. "As a first step, we are making a small update to News Feed so that Facebook Live videos are more likely to appear higher in News Feed when those videos are actually live, compared to after they are no longer live. People spend more than 3x more time watching a Facebook Live video on average compared to a video that's no longer live."

Facebook is second only to YouTube in the U.S. among online video content properties ranked by unique video viewers, according to comScore, with roughly 88 million total unique viewers. And its mobile video traffic is enormous: The company said in April that 75 percent of its users' video consumption was on mobile devices, and in November it said it was delivering 8 billion video views per day, doubling the 4 billion views it delivered in April.

And wireless network operators have noticed. Facebook's recent decision to auto-play advertisements on its mobile service dramatically increased the video load on mobile networks, according to executives from carriers and other companies.  

Indeed, ever-increasing demand for mobile video is a primary reason Cisco predicts mobile data traffic will increase 800 percent over the next five years. Video will have the highest growth rate of any mobile application, Cisco predicts, and demand for increased resolution, more bandwidth and processing speed will drive adoption of 4G devices.

Facebook recently said it was developing a dedicated service that would give videos a more prominent position on its site in a move that could place the company in more direct competition with YouTube as well as carriers' own video offerings. As the social network continues to drive mobile video consumption, operators will be playing very close attention.

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{Core Analysis}: Mobile World Congress 16 hype curve

{Core Analysis}: Mobile World Congress 16 hype curve | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
Mobile World Congress 2016 was an interesting show in many aspects. Here are some of my views on most and least hyped subjects, including mobile video, NFV, SDN, IoT, M2M, augmented and virtual reality, TCP optimization, VoLTE and others

First, let start with mobile video, my pet subject, as some of you might know. 2016 sees half of Facebook users to be exclusively mobile, generating over 3/4 of the company's revenue while half of YouTube views are on mobile devices and nearly half of Netflix under 34 members watch from a mobile device. There is mobile and mobile, though and a good 2/3 of these views occur on wifi. Still, internet video service providers see themselves becoming mobile companies faster than they thought. The result is increased pressure on mobile networks to provide fast, reliable video services, as 2k, 4K, 360 degrees video, augmented and virtual reality are next on the list of services to appear. This continues to create distortions to the value chain as encryption, ad blocking, privacy, security, net neutrality, traffic pacing and prioritization are being used as weapons of slow attrition by traditional and new content and service providers. On the network operators' side, many have deserted the video monetization battlefield. T-Mobile's Binge On seems to give MNOs pause for reflection on alternative models for video services cooperation. TCP optimization has been running hot as a technology for the last 18 months and has seen Teclo Networks acquired by Sandvine on the heels of this year's congress.

Certainly, I have felt that we have seen a change of pace and tone in many announcements, with NFV hyperbolic claims subsiding somewhat compared to last year. Specifically, we have seen several vendors live deployments, but mostly revolving around launches of VoLTE, virtualized EPC for MVNOs, enterprise or verticals and ubiquitous virtualized CPE but still little in term of multi-vendor generic traffic NFV deployments at scale. Talking about VoLTE, I now have several anecdotal evidence from Europe, Asia and North America that the services commercially launched are well below expectation in term of quality an performance against circuit switched voice.
The lack of maturity of standards for Orchestration is certainly the chief culprit here, hindering progress for open multi vendor service automation. 
Proof can be found in the flurry of vendors "ecosystems". If everyone works so hard to be in one and each have their own, it underlines the market fragmentation rather than reduces it. 
An interesting announcement showed Telefonica, BT, Korea Telecom, Telekom Austria, SK, Sprint,  and several vendors taking a sheet from OPNFV's playbook and creating probably one of the first open-source project within ETSI, aimed at delivering a MANO collaborative project,.
I have been advocating for such a project for more than 18 months, so I certainly welcome the initiative, even if ETSI might not feel like the most natural place for an open source project. 

Overall, NFV feels more mature, but still very much disconnected from reality. A solution looking for problems to solve, with little in term of new services creation. If all the hoopla leads to cloud-based VPNs, VoLTE and cheaper packet core infrastructure, the business case remains fragile.

The SDN announcements were somewhat muted, but showing good progress in SD-WAN, and SD data center architecture with the recognition, at last, that specialized switches will likely still be necessary in the short to medium term if we want high performance software defined fabric - even if it impacts agility. The compromises are sign of market maturing, not a failure to deliver on the vendors part in my opinion.

IoT, M2M were still ubiquitous and vague, depicted alternatively as next big thing or already here. The market fragmentation in term of standards, technology, use cases and understanding leads to baseless fantasist claims from many vendors (and operators) on the future of wearable, autonomous transports, connected objects... with little in term of evidence of a coherent ecosystem formation. It is likely that a dominant player will emerge and provide a top-down approach, but the business case seems to hinge on killer-apps that hint a next generation networks to be fulfilled.

5G was on many vendors' lips as well, even if it seems to consistently mean different things to different people, including MIMO, beam forming, virtualized RAN... What was clear, from my perspective was that operators were ready at last to address latency (as opposed or in complement of bandwidth) as a key resource and attribute to discriminate services and associated network slices.

Big Data slid right down the hype curve this year, with very little in term of  announcement or even reference in vendors product launches or deployments. It now seems granted that any piece of network equipment, physical or virtual must generate rivulets that stream to rivers and data lakes, to be avidly aggregated, correlated by machine learning algorithms to provide actionable insights in the form of analytics and alerts. Vendors show progress in reporting, but true multi vendors holistic analytics remains extremely difficult, due to the fragmentation of vendors data attributes and the necessity to have both data scientists and subject matter experts working together to discriminate actionable insights from false positives.

On the services side, augmented and virtual reality were revving up to the next hype phase with a multitude of attendees walking blindly with googles and smartphones stuck to their face... not the smartest look and unlikely to pass novelty stage until integrated in less obtrusive displays. On the AR front, convincing use cases start to emerge, such as furniture shopping (whereas you can see and position furniture in your home by superimposing them from a catalogue app), that are pragmatic and useful without being too cumbersome. Anyone who had to shop for furniture and send it back because it did not fit or the color wasn't really the same as the room will understand. 
Ad blocking certainly became a subject of increased interest, as operators and service providers are still struggling for dominance. As encrypted data traffic increases, operators start to explore ways to provide services that users see as valuable and if they hurt some of the OTTs business models, it is certainly an additional bargaining chip. The melding and reforming of the mobile value chain continues and accelerates with increased competition, collaboration and coopetition as MNOs and OTTs are finding a settling position. I have recently ranted about what's wrong with the mobile value chain, so I will spare you here.

At last, my personal interest project this year revolves around Mobile Edge Computing. I have started production on a report on the subject. I think the technology has potential unlock many new services in mobile networks and I can't wait to tell you more about it. Stay tuned for more!
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NetScaler T1000 with Optimization Technology from ByteMobile

NetScaler T1000 with Optimization Technology from ByteMobile | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
Citrix has announced the availability of the new NetScaler. The new NetScaler T1000 series now integrates ByteMobile optimization technology with the highly scalable, higher performance NetScaler platform architecture. This innovative Citrix solution vastly improves the economics of mobile traffic handling. The NetScaler T1000 offers service providers the industry’s leading price-performance platform that combines optimization technology for enhanced mobile subscriber experience with ADC technology for improved network efficiency. The software-first foundation that powers the Citrix Networking portfolio helps customers protect and future-proof their technology investments as the NetScaler platform can be easily updated to address new technologies and industry trends for the secure delivery of applications and data.

The nature of the mobile network has changed significantly with the rapid growth of mobile traffic, specifically the rise of encrypted mobile video and content, and the build-out of LTE and LTE-advanced networks. This shift has been highly disruptive for service providers struggling to achieve the best total cost of ownership (TCO) from the strategic platforms within their infrastructure. Service providers need platforms that readily adapt to dynamic traffic trends and, help them deliver highly efficient and profitable services that can maximize the yield of their LTE networks. Service providers require leading-edge technology focused on improving the subscriber experience, which today largely means the availability of higher quality media content with less video stalling. The mobile video experience is fast becoming a key enabler to attracting and retaining mobile subscribers.

The Evolution of Traffic

To ensure future success, service providers need a platform that can easily scale out to meet the continued explosive rapid growth of mobile traffic - specifically the rise of encrypted mobile video and content. According to the 2016 Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast, mobile video will grow at a CAGR of 62 percent between 2015 and 2020 with three-fourths (75 percent) of the world’s mobile data traffic consisting of video traffic by 2020.

Service providers need a solution that directly addresses the evolution of this traffic. Mobile video presently places the most stress on the mobile network yet its delivery serves as a key differentiator within the highly competitive mobile service provider marketplace. The optimization of this traffic becomes even more essential to meet the demands to improve network efficiency and enhance user experience – providing higher quality videos with less stalling to ultimately enhance subscriber quality of experience (QoE). Service providers are also seeking a platform that can dynamically and efficiently steer traffic through the most efficient service paths, directly determined by the subscribers’ needs. This helps reduce latency, improve speed and preserve functionality. Perhaps most importantly however, this can greatly reduce the costs to the service provider in delivering new services. The NetScaler T1000 platform combines subscriber-aware steering, load balancing, CGNAT and unique traffic identification and optimization technology - all in one single platform.

NetScaler is the only platform that can: scale at a dramatically lower cost per unit of capacity; provide the fluidity to evolve different elements of a network at different rates; and be leveraged seamlessly across physical, hybrid and fully virtualized and containerized implementations to assist the migration to NFV.

According to Chris Koopmans at Citrix, "Citrix is improving the economics of mobile traffic management by delivering an innovative solution that combines ByteMobile optimization technology with NetScaler ADC platform, to help improve overall network efficiency and deliver an enhanced subscriber experience. In a world where traffic keeps growing at a rapid pace, service providers need a consolidated platform that scales with demand while also reducing costs."

As the leader in the application virtualization and delivery markets, Citrix introduces this new enhanced platform which includes: a flexible architecture to manage different types of traffic; increased capacity which enables operational agility and flexibility; enhanced IT efficiencies through higher infrastructure utilization and consolidation ratios; and lower TCO of datacenter and network operations.

Additional benefits of the NetScaler T1000 for service providers include providing the ability to:

Consolidate multiple functions on a single platform – Allows operators to simplify S/Gi-LAN deployment and reduce complexity and inefficiency. The most impactful consolidated scenario is that of carrier-grade network address translation (CGNAT), data-plane load balancing, optimization and traffic steering.
·Scale mobile S/Gi-LAN services – Enables operators to scale out any network use case, including optimization and load balancing, CGNAT, optimization and traffic-steering in the data plane; and LTE DNS, SMPP, SIP, and Diameter load-balancing in the control plane.
Platform and scalability options to address different network sizes  – NetScaler T1000 comes in models supporting from 20 Gbps to 100 Gbps and 100 Gbps to 160 Gbps with paygrow options that allow license upgrades to higher throughputs. Furthermore, clustering of appliances can scale capacity up to 3.3 Tbps. 
Improved CAPEX and OPEX– NetScaler T1000 significantly lowers the cost per Gigabit capacity, providing up to 1/3 the cost of competitive ASIC-based platforms. Mobile operators can augment their networks with NetScaler and lower their overall total cost of ownership.
Transition to automated and virtualized networks – NetScaler is certified with popular OpenStack distributions, such as Red Hat and Mirantis, and can be deployed as a physical network function (PNF). Furthermore, the NetScaler virtual ADCs, the VPX, can co-exist with NetScaler PNFs in a hybrid network exposing the same APIs to NFV orchestration platforms allowing all NetScaler platforms to be managed using the same management framework.  
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Wowza Media Systems Enables Mobile Live Video Streaming Capabilities for Any App With the Release of Wowza GoCoder SDK

Wowza Media Systems Enables Mobile Live Video Streaming Capabilities for Any App With the Release of Wowza GoCoder SDK | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
Wowza Media Systems™, the leading software and cloud-based services provider that continuously simplifies the complexities of high-quality video and audio streaming for organizations worldwide, today announced the release of the Wowza GoCoder™ SDK (software development kit) for end-to-end mobile live video app development. Organizations of any size can now quickly and affordably create their own new and improved apps that incorporate high-quality live video streaming on iOS and Android platforms, enabling their users to broadcast live from mobile devices anywhere at any time.

"Our growing global society has an obsession with mobile that continues to drive the reshaping of technology. Mobile broadcasting in particular is exploding, with live video increasingly expected by users who demand real-time access to events," said Avni Rambhia, Industry Principal, Digital Transformation Practice, Frost & Sullivan. "Given Wowza's tenure in the streaming industry, it's a natural evolution for them to have developed this mobile video app toolkit that brings together all aspects of the live video streaming workflow."

From live-video social apps like Periscope (built on Wowza technology) to aerial reconnaissance via drones, live sporting events and insurance claim damage reporting, the opportunities and uses of live streaming from mobile devices are endless. Deploying these apps quickly, however, and ensuring they can scale while maintaining high performance levels, has historically been expensive and cumbersome.

The Wowza GoCoder SDK simplifies mobile-app development and saves app developers thousands of hours and costly delays through its standard, cross-platform API to capture and stream live video -- with broad support for the ever-growing spectrum of connected handheld devices. Direct integration with Wowza Streaming Engine™ software and the Wowza Streaming Cloud™ service provides a true end-to-end mobile broadcasting solution, using proven technology to speed time-to-market, lower development costs, and enable unlimited scalability.

"Our use of advanced streaming technology has put us at the forefront of medical innovation and technological leadership," said Justin C. Anderson, Co-Founder, President and CEO of G9MD. "By using Wowza GoCoder mobile encoding capabilities coupled with G9MD's Social Business Ecosystem and soon to launch G9MD.TV Live Video Streaming and Broadcasting Platform for Healthcare, we are enabling physicians worldwide to share knowledge and advance surgical techniques through mobile live video streaming. Wowza Media Systems continues to provide innovative, industry-leading streaming technologies that allow G9MD to shape the future of medicine."

The Wowza GoCoder SDK includes:

Consistent, cross-platform API footprint - Enables mobile-app support for a wide range of iOS and Android devices through a single API designed to encapsulate platform and device complexity with a consistent, small-footprint API signature.
Direct integration with proven technology - Allows developers to easily connect Wowza GoCoder to Wowza Streaming Engine media server software and the Wowza Streaming Cloud service through a single configuration interface for streaming and authentication settings.
Access to advanced features - Provides detailed control of video and audio encoder settings, including support for video resolution up to 4K Ultra HD.
Dynamic Control - Includes multiple-camera support, enabling dynamic control of focus, exposure, and the flashlight/torch.

"Wowza has been the leader in video and audio streaming technology for almost a decade, and the release of the Wowza GoCoder SDK further enhances our offerings across the entire mobile live video streaming workflow, from capture and encoding, to transcoding and repackaging, to delivery and consumption," said David Stubenvoll, CEO and co-founder Wowza Media Systems. "We now provide the building blocks and platform to make mobile live broadcasting accessible for any size organization worldwide."
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AT&T teams with Fullscreen on year-long project to develop mobile video

AT&T teams with Fullscreen on year-long project to develop mobile video | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

AT&T (NYSE:T) continued its aggressive pursuit of mobile video with the launch of a year-long project with 10 digital content providers to develop a new series as well as live concert broadcasts, podcasts and other offerings. And the carrier extended its latest buy-one, get-one promotion to the iPhone.

The nation's second-largest operator unveiled Hello Lab, a collaboration with the digital video company Fullscreen to enable artists to create content with their smartphones, for consumption by mobile users. As AdAge noted, AT&T and the Chernin Group bought a majority stake in Fullscreen in 2014 through their joint venture Otter Media.

Hello Lab launched with Dare to Travel, "a fan-driven travel series" on YouTube in which the audience participates by determining travel challenges for a pair of actors. The weekly series will integrate Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter to interact with users.

The move underscores AT&T's ambition to expand into video -- particularly mobile video -- following its acquisition of DirecTV. The carrier not only is bundling its video and wireless offerings but also is testing an integrated mobile video advertising campaign and is considering launching a mobile-only video product, Wells Fargo Securities analysts recently reported.

"Today's generation of digital-first creators form extremely powerful connections to their legions of fans," Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos said in a prepared statement. "Marketers need to respect and enhance that connection in order to make an impact with their brand message. With Hello Lab, AT&T is taking a longer-term, collaborative approach to content creation and marketing that adds value to both the creator and the fan."

Meanwhile, AT&T launched a promotion enabling new and existing customers who buy an iPhone to get a second iPhone free with a qualifying plan. Both phones must be purchased on the carrier's equipment installment plan, and a credit of as much as $650 is redeemed over 30 monthly bill credits after three bill cycles.

The promotion is an expansion of AT&T's existing two-for-one deal for the Samsung Galaxy S6. And it's the latest example of how carriers are once again turning to the BOGO model to attract customers in an increasingly competitive mobile market (and possibly to clear out smartphone inventories ahead of new device launches).

"The BOGO, a mainstay of carrier promotions when devices were generally subsidized, is now making a comeback, with BOGO or 'semi-BOGO' offers now available from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon," Wave7 Research noted recently. "Carriers are likely focusing on these offers as a means of adding lines to existing accounts. However, the new offers are likely to have a negative impact on device margins."

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What's wrong with the mobile value chain

What's wrong with the mobile value chain | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
I have been compiling quarterly reviews for the retainer clients of my mobile video and SDN/NFV practices and it is clear that there is big gap between consumers interests and the mobile industry revenue model.
Mobile data traffic continues to grow unabated, fueled by social media, and web service providers moving towards a mobile first and in some cases a mobile only strategy.
Did you know that close to half of Facebook users are exclusively mobile generating over 3/4 of the company's revenue? That half of YouTube views are on mobile devices? Nearly half of Netflix under 34 members watch from a mobile device?
Most of these services are free, or adverting or subscription-based. They do not rely on usage (time or Gigabytes or access) for monetization. As they transition to mobile networks, they do not change their business model and mobile network operators are left bereft trying to figure out how their traditional per byte/minute/message model fits in this new paradigm.

... well, here is a hint: it doesn't.

We have seen recently how T-Mobile in the US is now allowing zero rated video streaming in exchange for a quality cap at 480p in its Binge On service. Verizon has answered in kind just this week with its go90 service.

These might appear as popular and innovative moves, but their are just "tricks" to acquire and secure high ARPU postpaid LTE subscribers, akin to the unlimited voice / data packages we see flourish every time a challenger MNO with an empty network tries to aggressively churn its competition.

These tricks are shortsighted and won't help MNOs reconcile the fact that their costs keep increasing and their revenue from traditional services decrease. I am convinced that by 2020, we will see operators or MVNO with free, or close to it, voice, data and messaging services. What will they do then?

Most MNOs have identified that mobile video and Internet of Things are their largest revenue making opportunity in the medium term. 
Internet of Things can be a lot of different things but seems too uncertain and immature to build a solid strategy for a while. There are too many conflicting standards and initiatives from too many established vendors and start ups to make sense of it and create a mass market business in the short term.
Mobile video, by contrast is close to a mature market and technology. It is appalling that most network operators have such a poor grasp of it. Take mobile advertising, for instance.
We have just established that nearly half of all digital content is consumed on a mobile device.
2015 was the first year digital advertising spend exceeded broadcast with 42 billion $ vs 40. Mobile barely registered with only 7 billion$. Although growing, mobile advertising is only 21% of the global advertising spend in the US. Announcers have identified that mobile video is their largest medium opportunity to reach their most important target demographics (high net worth + youth).
How is it that you have 50% of eyeballs on a service that draw only 21% of ad spend?
Well, there several reasons for that, but first and foremost, it is because mobile video is such a poor service. With many vendors and observers reporting slow start time, between 3 to 5 seconds on cellular and WiFi, with an abandonment rate ranging from 15 to 25%. Network operators' poor understanding of video as a technology and advertising as a model, leads to poor video service quality, which yields poor video advertising returns. There are potential strategies that could help there, but there isn't much movement on the MNO's front. Most initiatives in this space are from OTTs and vendors. 

In any case, if mobile video advertising is supposed to reach its potential (80% of mobile advertising, which should be at least equal to digital) and create 33 billion $ of spend, MNOs better start treating it seriously. Measuring, managing video QoE becomes key and while you are at it, if your network transports video for 75% of its traffic, might as well build a video network that happens to do voice, messaging browsing, rather than the other way around... Just saying. 

In the future, consumers, service providers, OTT will value much more a network that can deliver and guarantee the best video quality than anything else.
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Verizon uncaps go90…and courts controversy

Verizon uncaps go90…and courts controversy | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
Verizon Wireless is enabling its contract customers to use its go90 video app without paying for the data consumed.

Essentially, the move pulls together two previously separate initiatives – the youth-oriented Go90 app and the operator’s zero-rating programme FreeBee Data 360.

With FreeBee Data 360, content providers can sign up to provide consumers some or all of their mobile content – whether in an app or mobile website – without using consumers’ data plans.

Verizon Wireless argues that FreeBee Data 360 is open to any content provider, and hence its move with go90 is non-discriminatory.

A number of reports suggest the operator could face scrutiny from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) following its move.

FCC chief Tom Wheeler recently wrote to rivals AT&T and T-Mobile US asking for more information about their zero-rating plans.

Some observers drew comparisons between Verizon Wireless’ latest move and T-Mobile US’ Binge On, which waives data charges for certain video streaming services.

However, T-Mobile US is not setting itself up as content provider as Verizon Wireless has done by developing go90.

As Ars Technica noted, content from rival providers such as Netflix and YouTube does count against a user’s data cap. Alternatively, these providers can pay Verizon Wireless for their content to be delivered free.

News of Verizon Wireless’s go90 move emerged via an update for the app which told users: “If you’re a Verizon Wireless post-paid customer, stream Go90 videos over LTE without using up your data.” The update is for both iPhone and Android devices.
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WhatsApp intros end-to-end encryption

WhatsApp intros end-to-end encryption | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
WhatsApp introduced end-to-end encryption for all data sent via the instant messaging app, in a bid to bolster user privacy.

“The idea is simple: when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to. No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us,” the company’s founders, Brian Acton and Jan Koum, wrote in a blog post.

The news comes as the FBI dropped a lawsuit asking Apple to build a backdoor into the iPhone, in the latest example of authorities wanting access to user data, often to investigate criminal activity.

Last year, WhatsApp was blocked in Brazil possibly because it was unwilling to give up data related to a case involving a drug trafficker who allegedly used the messaging service.

“While we recognise the important work of law enforcement in keeping people safe, efforts to weaken encryption risk exposing people’s information to abuse,” WhatsApp’s blog post said.

Earlier this year, Koum said “a conversation about a back door is not productive as we will not do that”, adding that “bad guys will find them and break through them”.

What’s more, it was reported recently that Facebook not allowing Egypt’s government to spy on users of its Free Basics service was the reason the offering was banned in December. BlackBerry’s BBM has faced similar issues in countries like Pakistan.

Explaining the move towards encryption, WhatsApp said: “If nothing is done, more of people’s digital information and communication will be vulnerable to attack in the years to come,” adding that while it is one of the few platforms to offer protection, encryption “will ultimately represent the future of personal communication”.

“I grew up in the USSR during communist rule and the fact that people couldn’t speak freely is one of the reasons my family moved to the US,” added Koum.
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Expway Raises €3M in Funding

Expway, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based wireless multicast technology provider, raised €3M in funding.

The round was led by NTT DOCOMO Ventures, the corporate venture arm of NTT Group, with participation from current investors Innovation Capital, I-Source, TechFund and Isatis Capital.

The company intends to use the funds to further the adoption of FastLane.

Led by Thierry Sergent, CEO, Expway provides wireless multicast technology, which enables Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) and Over-The-Top (OTT) content providers to monetize the mobile data explosion.
Its newly announced FastLane is an Ultimate Mobile CDN solution which optimizes data traffic between the telecom cells and the terminals using LTE Broadcast.
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Netflix downgrades mobile video for Verizon and AT&T, drawing ire

Netflix downgrades mobile video for Verizon and AT&T, drawing ire | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

Netflix degrades the quality of the video it makes available to AT&T and Verizon, The Wall Street Journal confirmed, but doesn't do the same for T-Mobile and Sprint.

Netflix's concession supports last week's claim by T-Mobile CEO John Legere that Netflix's content is transmitted at a lower resolution over the networks of the two biggest U.S. carriers than over T-Mobile's network.

"Did you know that when you watch Netflix on T-Mobile you get it at 480p?" Legere asked during a video T-Mobile posted last week plugging its Binge On service. "And the duopoly is actually delivering your Netflix content at 360p. I'll bet you didn't know that. Go check; it's true."

Both Verizon and AT&T flatly denied throttling video content over their networks, and AT&T went so far as to say that "our customers on 4G LTE can get much higher resolution than T-Mobile's optimized 480p limit." Netflix failed to respond to multiple inquiries from FierceWireless over the last week regarding its policies for distributing content to mobile network operators.

The nation's two largest mobile carriers said they had no idea of Netflix's throttling practices until the news came to light. "We're outraged to learn that Netflix is apparently throttling video for their AT&T customers without their knowledge or consent," said Jim Ciccione, AT&T's senior vice president of external and legislative affairs, in a prepared statement.

Meanwhile, critics noted the policy appears to contradict Netflix's outspoken support of net neutrality principles. "Netflix fought hard during the open Internet proceeding to ensure that broadband providers could not engage in this same behavior that would benefit the same customers in the same way," Doug Brake of the Internet Technology and Innovation Foundation wrote in a blog post. 

The Journal reported that Netflix admitted for the first time to capping its streams at 600 Kbps "to protect consumers from exceeding mobile data caps" that may lead to decreased viewing. The company cited "more consumer-friendly policies" of T-Mobile and Sprint, which slow network speeds rather than charging overage fees when users hit their monthly data allotments.

Netflix also said in a blog post that it plans to introduce a "data saver feature" in May to help users watch mobile video while minimizing their data consumption.

And while Legere's comments raised speculation that perhaps Verizon and AT&T requested lower-quality content from Netflix to ease the payload on their networks, both carriers denied those claims as well. "Verizon does not request any manipulation of content by the host service; a Verizon customer on-the-go gets the content at the resolution provided by the host service," a Verizon representative told FierceWireless Thursday.

Netflix's disclosure raises some complicated questions for the mobile industry as video consumption continues to ramp up, further congesting wireless networks. Carriers that charge overages when users blow past data limits may increasingly find they receive lower-quality content than competitors that merely throttle network speeds.

But it also highlights the fine line both carriers and content providers must walk when trying to deliver quality content while minimizing data payloads. There appears to be very little customer backlash from T-Mobile's Binge On, for instance, despite the fact that the carrier openly admits to "optimizing" – or degrading – the video quality for users of its service. Similarly, few – if any – users have balked at the inferior quality of Netflix's content over the networks of Verizon and T-Mobile. As data traffic continues to weigh down mobile networks, expect both operators and content providers to experiment with just how far they can go to minimize the data footprint.

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{Core Analysis}: For or against Adaptive Bit Rate? part V: centralized control

{Core Analysis}: For or against Adaptive Bit Rate? part V: centralized control | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
I have seen over the last few weeks much speculations and claim with T-Mobile's Binge On service launch and these have accelerated with yesterday's announce of Google play and YouTube joining the service. As usual many are getting on their net neutrality battle horse using fraught assumptions and misconceptions to justify their argument.

I have written at length about what ABR is and what are its pros and cons, you can find some extracts in the links at the end of this post. I'll try here to share my views and expose some facts to enable a more pragmatic approach.

I think we can safely assume that every actor in the mobile video delivery chain wants to enable the best user experience for users, whenever possible.
As I have written in the past, in the current state of affair, adaptive bit rate is often times corrupted in order to seize as much network bandwidth as possible, which results in devices and service providers aggressively competing for bits and bytes.
Content providers assume that highest quality of content (1080p HD video for instance) equals maximum experience for subscriber and therefore try and capture as much network resource as possible to deliver it. Browser / apps / phone manufacturers also assume that more speed equals better user experience, therefore try to commandeer as much capacity as possible. The flaw here is the assumption that the optimum is the product of many maxima self regulated by an equal and fair apportioning of resources. This shows a complete ignorance of how networks are designed, how they operate and how traffic flows through these networks.

An OTT cannot know why a user’s session downstream speed is degrading, it can just report it. Knowing why is important because it enables to make better decisions in term of the possible corrective actions that need to be undertaken to preserve the user’s experience. For instance, a reduction of bandwidth for a particular user can be the result of handover (4G to 3G or cells with different capacity), or because of congestion in a given cell or due to the distance between the phone and the antenna or whether a user enters a building, an elevator, or whether she is reaching her data cap and being throttled etc.… Reasons can be multiple and for each of them, a corrective action can have a positive or a negative effect on the user’s experience. For instance, in a video streaming scenario, you can have a group of people in a given cell streaming Netflix and others streaming YouTube. Naturally, the video streamed is in progressive download adaptive bit rate format, which means that the stream will try to increase to the highest available download bit rate to deliver the highest video definition possible. All sessions will theoretically increase the delivered definition up to the highest available or the highest delivery bit rate available, whichever comes first. In a network with much capacity, everyone ramps up to 1080p and everyone has a great user experience.

More often than not, though, that particular cell cannot accommodate everyone’s stream at the highest definition at the same time. Adaptive bit rate is supposed to help there again by stepping down definition until it fits within available delivery bit rate. It unfortunately can’t work like that when we are looking at multiple sessions from multiple OTTs. Specifically, as soon as one player starts reducing its definition to meet lower bit rate delivery, that freed-up bandwidth is grabbed by other players, which can now look at increasing even more their definition. There is no incentive for content provider to reduce bandwidth fast to follow network condition, because they can become starved by their competition in the same cell.

The solution here is simple, the delivery of ABR video content has to be managed and coordinated between all providers. The only way and place to provide this coordination is in the mobile network, as close to the radio resource as possible. [...]

This and more in my upcoming Mobile Edge Computing report.
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{Core Analysis}: Mobile QoE White Paper

{Core Analysis}: Mobile QoE White Paper | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
 Extracted from the white paper "Mobile Networks QoE" commissioned by Accedian Networks. 

2016 is an interesting year in mobile networks.  Maybe for the first time, we are seeing tangible signs of evolution from digital services to mobile-first. As it was the case for the transition from traditional services to digital, this evolution causes disruptions and new behavior patterns in the ecosystem, from users to networks, to service providers.
Take for example social networks. 47% of Facebook users access the service exclusively through mobile and generate 78% of the company’s ad revenue. In video streaming services, YouTube sees 50% of its views on mobile devices and 49% Netflix’ 18 to 34 years old demographics watch it on mobile.

This extraordinary change in behavior causes unabated traffic growth on mobile networks as well a changes in the traffic mix. Video becomes the dominant use that pervades every other aspect of the network. Indeed, all involved in the mobile value chain have identified video services as the most promising revenue opportunity for next generation networks. Video services are rapidly becoming the new gold rush.

“Video services are the new gold rush”
Video is essentially a very different animal from voice or even other data services. While voice, messaging and data traffic can essentially be predicted fairly accurately as a function of number and density of subscribers, time of day and busy hour patterns, video follows a less predictable growth. There is a wide disparity in consumption from one user to the other, and this is not only due to their viewing habits. It is also function of their device screen size and resolution, the network that they are using and the video services they access. The same video, viewed on a social sharing site on a small screen or on full HD or at 4K on a large screen can have a 10 -20x impact on the network, for essentially the same service.

Video requires specialized equipment to manage and guarantee its quality in the network, otherwise, when congestion occurs, there is a risk that it consumes resources effectively denying voice, browsing, email and other services fair (and necessary) access to the network.
This unpredictable traffic growth results in exponential costs for networks to serve the demand.
As mobile becomes the preferred medium to consume digital content and services, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), whose revenue was traditionally derived from selling “transport,” see their share squeezed as subscribers increasingly value content and have more and more options in accessing it. The double effect of the MNOs’ decreasing margins and increasing costs forces them to rethink their network architecture.
New services, on the horizon such as Voice and Video over LTE (VoLTE & ViLTE), augmented and virtual reality, wearable and IoT, automotive and M2M will not be achievable technologically or economically with the current networks.

Any architecture shift must not simply increase capacity; it must also improve the user experience. It must give the MNO granular control over how services are created, delivered, monitored, and optimized. It must make best use of capacity in each situation, to put the network at the service of the subscriber. It must make QoE — the single biggest differentiator within their control — the foundation for network control, revenue growth and subscriber loyalty.
By offering exceptional user experience, MNOs can become the access provider of choice, part of their users continuously connected lives as their trusted curator of apps, real-time communications, and video.

“How to build massively scalable networks while guaranteeing Quality of Experience?”

As a result, the mobile industry has embarked on a journey to design tomorrow’s networks, borrowing heavily from the changes that have revolutionized enterprise IT departments with SDN (Software Defined Networking) and innovating with 5G and NFV (Networks Functions Virtualization) for instance. The target is to emulate some of the essential attributes of innovative service providers such as Facebook, Google and Netflix who have had to innovate and solve some of the very same problems.

QoE is rapidly becoming the major battlefield upon which network operators and content providers will differentiate and win consumers’ trust.  Quality of Experience requires a richly instrumented network, with feedback telemetry woven through its fabric to anticipate, detect, measure any potential failure.
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Google reveals more progress with Project Loon

Google reveals more progress with Project Loon | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
Google VP Mike Cassidy believes commercial deployment of the company’s ambitious Loon project is “getting close”, as scepticism around the technology begins to disappear.

Cassidy, who heads up the project which attempts to use helium filled balloons to provide internet access in remote parts of the world, told Mobile Wold Live that “more people are starting to believe”, with the company last month announcing an agreement with the Sri Lankan government to begin testing the technology as part of a joint venture.

In October, the company struck its first Loon partnership in Malaysia with Telkomsel, Indosat and XL Axiata to deliver 4G trials in remote areas of the country. India is reportedly next on the agenda.

“The balloons have now flown almost 20 million kilometres around the world, some of the balloons have gone around the world nineteen times,” stated Cassidy. “And we’ve done complete interoperability tests with some of our telco partners.”

Cassidy also said the company can now land balloons within 500 metres of a target after flying for 10,000 kilometres. And download speeds of 50Mb/s are being supported by the 4G balloons.

Cassidy was however unable to put a specific timeframe on deployment, with Loon sitting under the company’s ‘moonshots’ segment (an innovative lab dedicated to research and development of certain products/projects).

Operators including Vodafone, Telstra and Telefonica have also tested the technology and Cassidy said telcos are open to the idea of Loon, which he described as a “low technology solution”, given the huge cost savings it could potentially bring in comparison to the rollout of traditional infrastructure in rural areas.
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AT&T boosts multiplay strategy with three new streaming plans

AT&T boosts multiplay strategy with three new streaming plans | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
AT&T has bolstered its multi-play strategy with the launch of several new content streaming services.

Tailored to serve users operating almost any internet-connected device on practically all bandwidths, AT&T says its new service is designed to deliver premium content formats in an affordable way.

The service will launch in three flavours across the DIRECTV brand: “Now”, “Mobile”, and “Preview”, ranging from premium services for the former to freemium, sponsored-supported access for the latter.

“Now” features on-demand and live scheduled programming with premium add-ons, available across any wired or wireless, compatible internet device. As suggested by its title, “Mobile” is the smartphone-only option consisting of premium video and made-for-digital content available through dedicated applications. “Preview” content, meanwhile, is more limited but completely ad-supported.

Sponsored, advertisement-based access to data services is a growing trend for telecoms operators as they adjust to more tailored yet diverse content offers. 29% of operators who responded to the Intelligence Annual Industry Survey this year said sponsored data services paid for by content providers or advertisers will be launched in 2016.

CEO of AT&T’s Entertainment group, John Stankey said the new service launch is a response to consumer demand for simplified content streaming at a more transparent price-point.

“These new video subscription models reflect the flexible content choices, viewing options and simple, transparent pricing that consumers want. AT&T intends to be the first company to deliver that flexibility, along with an effortless customer experience,” said John Stankey, CEO – AT&T Entertainment Group. “These offers will provide a broad range of customers with greater freedom and choice to watch, binge and even buy premium content, regardless of how and where they enjoy their entertainment.”

The announcements indicates a further shift towards mobile or alternative video consumption, as AT&T says the new service will come without the need for set-top boxes, satellite dishes, and most significantly, without contacts.
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Sandvine, (TSX:SVC) a leading provider of intelligent network policy control solutions for fixed and mobile operators, today announced that it has entered into an agreement to purchase the business of Teclo Networks AG (“Teclo”), a Switzerland-based  company that offers a TCP Acceleration solution to mobile operators, including satellite technologies.  The solution dramatically enhances the quality of experience for mobile Internet subscribers on 2G to 5G networks, reduces the risk of subscriber churn and extends network life. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions including the approval by Teclo’s shareholders.  The transaction is expected to close in March. Financial details were not disclosed.
With the acquisition, Sandvine launches the new Sandvine TCP Accelerator product as part of its Traffic Optimization portfolio. TCP traffic accounts for 90-95% of all Internet traffic, and its congestion controls were historically designed for fixed line networks and can create significant inefficiencies in today’s mobile networks. With Sandvine TCP Accelerator, mobile network operators can expect significant increases in TCP traffic throughput (speed) and meaningful decreases in latency (traffic delays), including for encrypted traffic. This increased performance significantly improves the quality of experience for mobile Internet subscribers, resulting in a “snappy” web browsing experience, and reduces the risk of subscriber churn.
“While all the talk is about 4G and 5G, people forget that the dominant mobile Internet access type globally remains 2G and 3G. TCP Acceleration is a proven, regulatory-neutral approach to improving subscriber satisfaction and extending the life of mobile networks,” said Don Bowman, Sandvine’s Chief Technology Officer. “TCP Acceleration works on encrypted traffic, unlike video optimization, content caching and certain other specialized optimization techniques. So while we have seen other companies exit the Traffic Optimization space, this is another example of how Sandvine is embracing the encryption trend to help operators continue to manage their networks in a world where most traffic is already encrypted.”
Some specific benefits of the Sandvine TCP Accelerator include:

Protects the network from bursty traffic and bufferbloat – a notable issue in 4G networks
Decreased round trip times while achieving full utilization of available Radio Access Network (RAN) resources
Removes session slowdown from RAN latency/congestion at the TCP layer including on MOCN (Multi-Operation Core Networks)
Effective acceleration of encrypted traffic
Reduces TCP retransmissions and gets the first byte out quicker when restarting operations after connections are reestablished
Accelerates both uploads and downloads from mobile devices
The market’s only fully transparent solution, i.e., does not introduce the inherent reliability and efficiency issues of competing proxy-based solutions
“There are a number of significant near-term opportunities for TCP Acceleration and our product offers significant technical advantages,” said Jane Walerud, CEO of Teclo. “Mobile operators have represented Sandvine’s largest market for years and the company has an extensive customer base. Together, we are in a much better position to take advantage of an opportunity that has a compelling value proposition to mobile operators.”
Teclo has 10 customers using its products today, including 9 that are new to Sandvine.
The TCP Accelerator product will be priced as a term-based license.
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Ericsson: mobile video data to explode in next five years » Digital TV Europe

Ericsson: mobile video data to explode in next five years » Digital TV Europe | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

Accumulated mobile data traffic for video will climb dramatically from 50 ExaBytes for the period 2010-15 to an estimated 1,000 ExaBytes between 2016 and 2021, according to Ericsson.

In the Mobile World Congress edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, the company said that in 2015 alone, net-added mobile data traffic was 20 ExaBytes, half of which consisted of video traffic.

“The additional video traffic in 2015 is comparable to approximately three full length movies per smartphone subscription,” said Ericsson.

According to the report, key drivers of mobile video traffic included uptake of video on-demand services like HBO and Netflix, which drives longer viewing times, and strong growth of video streaming driven by content providers like YouTube, which in many mobile networks today accounts for 50–70% of video traffic.

Ericsson also pointed to user behaviour changes, with TV and video content, increasingly consumed over mobile networks and on multiple devices, including smartphones, as well as the increasing appearance of video as part of other online applications, including news, advertisements and social media.

“The growth in data traffic is being driven both by increased smartphone subscriptions and a continued increase in average data volume per subscription, fuelled primarily by more viewing of video content,” said Ericsson, which reported a 65% year-on-year growth in mobile data traffic between Q4 2014 and Q4 2015.

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Telcos get together to tackle OTT

Telcos get together to tackle OTT | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
Nine major international telecoms operators on Monday announced they have formed a partnership that appears to be a way for them to tap into the growth potential of major Internet brands.

The companies have come together to create what they describe as a Partnering Operator Alliance, founder member MTS revealed.

In addition to the Russian operator, the group also includes BT, Deutsche Telekom, Reliance Jio Infocomm, Millicom, Orange, Rogers, TeliaSonera and TIM.

The alliance identifies itself as "an open network of like-minded operators worldwide with complementary geographical footprints."

Its purpose is to exchange best practices on bringing partner offerings to market, to jointly identify possible partnerships, and to share knowledge on "upcoming trends and services," MTS said.

The partners in question include major Internet brands that offer the kinds of services telecoms operators have been unable to successfully launch and scale up themselves, such as digital music specialist Spotify and mobile marketing firm Celltick.

The alliance has existing relationships with 30 such partners in total - others including AirBnB, Disconnect, Idoomoo, Magisto, and Mojio - and is looking to add more to the list.

It is also open to the idea of recruiting other operators and said it will add new names "soon".

"Partnering becomes more and more important," said Christian von Reventlow, chief product and innovation officer at Deutsche Telekom.

"We as operators can provide partners with the best networks and easy distribution to customers," von Reventlow added. "And the partners enable us to provide our customers with the best and most innovative products and services."

There were similar comments from representatives of the other operators in the alliance.

"By teaming up with our great peers we'll get the possibility to work with partners and access innovations that we otherwise might not have come across," TeliaSonera's commercial head Jesper Hedblom said.

"The joint forces of industry leaders create additional value for our customers and give us a chance to provide the latest innovations, best services, products and client experience," said Vasyl Latsanych, chief marketing officer at MTS.

Meanwhile, Orange and TIM focused more on how the alliance will help them engage with start-ups.

Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, senior executive innovation, marketing and technologies at Orange, noted that her company already works with digital start-ups, via in-house initiatives and other partnerships.

"We strongly believe that this alliance will contribute and enhance our collective ability to scale up innovators," she said.

"This alliance is a unique arena where the most important operators can build upon their respective innovation experiences and solutions providing also an opportunity for operators to introduce their start-up ecosystems to an international footprint," said TIM's head of innovation and industry relations Lucy Lombardi.
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Chinese internet firms offer $1.23 billion for Norway's Opera Software

Chinese internet firms offer $1.23 billion for Norway's Opera Software | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
A group of Chinese internet firms have made a cash offer for Norwegian mobile phone browser and advertising firm Opera Software (OPERA.OL), valuing it at $1.23 billion, in a move to reach more of the emerging market customers with whom Opera is popular.

The buyers include U.S.-listed Web search and security firm Qihoo 360 (QIHU.N) and Beijing Kunlun Tech (300418.SZ), a distributor of online and mobile games, who have agreed to pay 71 Norwegian crowns ($8.29) per share, with the total price equating to about 10 times the company's forecast core earnings.

In a statement, the buyer consortium, which also includes the Golden Brick Silk Road (Shenzhen) Equity Investment Fund and its Yonglian Investment affiliate, will result in a mobile Internet combination of Opera, Kunlun, Qihoo and Golden Brick.

Opera's acquisition is part of a complex of deals being done by the Chinese buyers seeking to join forces in their home market, which is dominated by giant rivals such as Alibaba (BABA.N) and Tencent (0700.HK). Opera also helps the group expand into emerging markets in Asia, Africa and elsewhere.

Shares in the Oslo-based firm, best known for its mobile phone web browser alternative to software from Google, Apple (AAPL.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O), jumped 41 percent at the opening of the Oslo bourse and were up 37 percent at 67 crowns at 7 a.m. ET.

Opera's stock was suspended from trade on Friday after the shares rose 5 percent to 48.77 crowns in anticipation of an announcement on the company's future, management having said last year it was looking to sell itself.

Chairman Sverre Munck told Reuters on Wednesday it was essential for the 20-year-old firm to find partners in order to compete against the giants of the technology world and their integrated software platforms, which eclipse rival products.

"Facebook and (Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O)) Google have their ecosystems and now we have one too, in a part of the world that is growing incredibly fast and where we will become very strong," he said in an interview in Oslo.

Munck said several bidders took part in the sales process but he declined to say whom.

Opera has transformed itself in recent years into a mobile advertising service, from which it now derives much of its revenue, having started out with a PC browser that has struggled to compete with mainstream Web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Chrome, Mozilla and Safari.

The Norwegian company predicted on Wednesday its underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization would amount to $100-125 million in 2016 on revenue of $690-740 million.

Its browser division now specializes in compressing data to minimize download times and costs for subscribers, especially when watching video, making it particularly popular in emerging market economies where network bandwidth can be constrained.

"We want to be an ecosystem with a billion users," Opera's chief executive Lars Boilesen told Reuters, adding that the deal still needed to be approved by the Chinese authorities. Qihoo, which provides a diverse set of search, navigation and security services to Chinese mobile phone and computer users, makes more than half of its sales from online advertising sales. Both Qihoo and Kunlun have undergone a similar evolution to Opera to focus increasingly on mobile customers.

"Kunlun and Qihoo will have access to Opera's user base to cross-sell their services too," said Jefferies financial analyst David Reynolds in a note to clients. The acquisition of Opera comes after Qihoo agreed in December with some members of the consortium to be taken private.

Separately, Beijing Kunlun Tech last month agreed to take a 60 percent stake in popular Los Angeles-based Grindr, a gay mobile phone dating app service which is popular worldwide.

A representative for Kunlun declined to offer an immediate comment. Calls to Qihoo on Wednesday went unanswered.
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Zuckerberg "disappointed" with TRAI ruling in India

Zuckerberg "disappointed" with TRAI ruling in India | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he is “disappointed” with Indian regulator TRAI’s decision to restrict programmes that provide free access to data, which will impact Facebook’s Free Basics’ zero rated service.

He said the decision would not deter Facebook from its goal of “connecting India” and “help lift people out of poverty, create millions of jobs and spread education opportunities”.

“Everyone in the world should have access to the internet,” he wrote in a Facebook post, adding that “Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. That mission continues, and so does our commitment to India.”

Free Basics is a product of the initiative which offers users free access to a range of data services, including the social network. More than 19 million people in 38 countries have been connected through Facebook’s different programmes, according to Zuckerberg.

TRAI ruled against differential data pricing earlier this week. The verdict was greeted with enthusiasm by net neutrality supporters but leaves doubt hanging over Facebook’s strategy in India, at least in its current form.

The ruling, which does not name Facebook or any other provider specifically, will also impact Bharti Airtel’s Airtel Zero sponsored data service.
Patrick Lopez's insight:

Interesting to see an alternative view on net neutrality than the one dictated by content and service providers. 

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