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Free Mobile maximizes data speeds with Teclo Networks’ optimization

Free Mobile maximizes data speeds with Teclo Networks’ optimization | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |


Sambal boosts data speeds through TCP/IP optimization


Zurich, Switzerland July 8 2014 – Leading French network operator, Free Mobile, has deployed Sambal® from Teclo Networks, the leader in TCP/IP data optimization, to deliver lightning fast mobile internet to subscribers across the network.


Sambal’s TCP/IP optimization has been deployed in Free Mobile’s network following an extremely successful one month trial. Sambal achieved highly impressive optimization results, with faultless stability, which led Free Mobile to select the solution.


Free is one of the world’s most innovative mobile operators offering highly competitive price plans to over 8.6 million mobile subscribers.


Thomas Reynaud, Free’s Chief Financial Officer and Head of Business Development “We considered a number of options to strengthen our mobile Internet speeds and Teclo Networks exceeded our expectations. Our decision-making process based on actual testing was fast and efficient thanks to the quality of this very well designed solution. Throughput improvements on all network technologies, especially 3G and 4G are truly impressive. The product is perfectly stable and reliable.”


TCP/IP, the basic communications protocol of the internet, was traditionally built for fixed-lines. Therefore, the rate in which data is transferred over mobile networks can be slow. Sambal uses TCP/IP acceleration to reduce the negative effects of packet loss and latency on mobile networks.


Sambal manages and optimizes data transferred through TCP/IP without caching. Put simply, Sambal brings the consistency of fixed line Internet to mobile networks.  Sambal also has optional compression features. It can work in two modes: transparent, with no content change and non-transparent, with slight image degradation to make mobile web pages download faster.


“We understand that mobile operators are under pressure to deliver reliable, fast mobile Internet speeds to their subscribers,” said Jane Walerud, CEO of Teclo Networks. “A reliable and robust mobile Internet service equals happy customers. And Sambal has an amazing track record of delivering an outstanding service. We are delighted to have been selected by Free Mobile and Sambal will continue to deliver impressive results now – and in the future”.


Visit or contact for more information.

Patrick Lopez's insight:

Teclo is one of the emerging start up profiled in my report : "mobile video monetization and optimization 2014"

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{Core Analysis}: Speed = QoE?

{Core Analysis}: Speed = QoE? | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
I was chairing the LTE World Summit in Amsterdam last week. One of the great presentations made there was by Bouygues Telecom's EVP of Strategy Frederic Ruciak. He presented the operator's strategy for LTE launch in France that led the challenger to the number one market share on LTE in less than one year. He was showing that consumers were not ready to pay for "more speed" because they had been sold the myth of mobile internet too many times. Consumers had been sold wap on GPRS, EDGE, them wireless internet on 3G, HSPA with low satisfaction. Using internet as the reason to upgrade to LTE is a loosing proposition.

One of the mistakes many make in this industry is equating speed with quality of experience (QoE). 

Our quest to increase speed in wireless networks is futile if we do not consider the other side if the coin: service experience. 

For instance, there is always a wave of enthusiasm at the launch of a new radio technology, when few users have access to ample network resources and the services that ride on it are those that were designed for the precious generation. 
I have generation 1 iPad and the latest iPad mini both on wifi. When I bought my first iPad, I had a great browsing experience. Navigation was fluid and fast. Now, it is rare that I am able to have more than 10 minutes browsing without a crash. It is not that the browser is corrupted, just that web pages have grown in size and complexity and when it took 2 seconds to load 10 elements 4 years ago, it now tries to load 40+ elements and inevitably runs out if resource, memory and crashes. The ipad mini is not as bad but not as good as the first generation 4 years ago.

When we are looking at LTE and LTE advanced and soon 5G, it seems that the only "benefit" we are selling as an industry is speed. We tend to infer an improvement in QoE, but it is rarely there. If I used LTE to browse a monochromatic text-based wap site, I am sure that speed would be an improvement in QoE. But no, as LTE is launched, web pages grow in complexity and size, encryption and obfuscation is creeping in, video is graduating from SD to HD to 4K... With video, the problem is even larger as the increase in screen size and definition seems to consistently outpace network speeds.
It becomes harder to sell a new technology if all it does is keeping up or catching up with the service, not improve drastically the user experience.
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{Core Analysis}: Mobile network 2030

{Core Analysis}: Mobile network 2030 | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
Mobile network 2030It is summer, nice and warm. England and Italy are out of the world cup, France will beat Germany on Friday, then Brazil and Argentina in the coming weeks to obtain their second FIFA trophy. It sounds like a perfect time for a little daydreaming and telecom fiction...

The date is February 15, 2030

The mobile world congress is a couple of weeks away and has returned to Cannes, as the attendance and indeed the investments in what used to be mobile networks have reduced drastically over the last few years. Finished are the years of opulence and extravagant launches in Barcelona, the show now looks closer to a medium sized textile convention than the great mass of flashy technology and gadgets it used to be in its heyday. 
When did it start to devolve? What was the signal that killed what used to be a trillion dollar industry in the 90's and early 2000's. As usual, there is not one cause but a sort of convergence of events that took a momentum that few saw coming and fewer tried to stop. 
Net neutrality was certainly one of these events. If you remember, back in 2011, people started to realize the level of penetration fixed and wireless networks were exposed to from legal and illegal interception. Following the various NSA scandals, public pressure mounted to protect digital privacy. 
In North America, the battle was fierce between pro and con neutrality, eventually leading to a status quo of sorts, with many content providers and network operators in an uneasy collaborative dynamic. Originally, content providers unwilling to pay for traffic delivery in wireless networks attempted to secure superior user experience by implementing increasingly bandwidth hungry apps. When these started to come in contention for network resources, carriers started to step in and aggressively throttle, cap or otherwise "optimize" traffic. In reaction, premium content providers moved to an encrypted traffic model as a means to obfuscate traffic and prevent interception, mitigation and optimization by carriers. Soon enough, though, the encryption-added costs and latency proved impractical. Furthermore, some carriers started to throttle and cap all traffic equally, claiming to adhere to the letter of net neutrality, which ended up having a terrible effect on  user experience. In the end cooler heads prevailed and content providers and carriers created integrated video networks, where transport, encryption and ad insertion were performed at the edge, while targeting, recommendation, fulfillment ended up in the content provider's infrastructure. 
In Europe, content and service providers saw at the same time "net neutrality" as the perfect excuse to pressure political and regulatory organizations to force network providers to deliver digital content unfiltered, un-prioritized at best possible effort. The result ended up being quite disastrous, as we know, with content being produced mostly outside Europe and encrypted, operators became true utility service providers. They discovered overnight that their pipes could become even dumber than they were.
Of course, the free voice and texting services launched by some of the 5G licensees new entrants in the 2020's accelerated the trend and nationalization of many of the pan European network operator groups.

The transition was relatively easy, since many had transcended to full virtual networks and contracted ALUSSON the last "european" Telecom Equipment Manufacturer to manage their networks. After they had spent collectively over 100 billion euros to virtualize it in the first place, ALUSSON emerged as the only clear winner of the cost benefits brought by virtualization. 
Indeed, virtualization was attractive and very cost effective on paper but proved very complex and organizationally intensive to implement in the end. Operators had miscalculated their capacity to shift their workforce from telecom engineering to IT when they found out that the skill-set to manage their networks always had been in the vendors' hands. Few groups were able to massively retool their workforce, if you remember the great telco strikes of 2021-2022.
In the end, most ended up contracting and transitioning their assets to their network vendor. Obviously, liberated from the task of managing their network, most were eager to launch new services, which was one of the initial rationale for virtualization. Unfortunately, they found out that service creation was much better implemented by small, agile, young entrepreneurial structures than large, unionized, middle aged ones... With a couple of notable exceptions, broadband networks were written off as broadband access was written in the European countries' constitutions and networks aggregated at the pan European level to become pure utilities when they were not downright nationalized. Outside Europe and North America, Goopple and HuaTE dominate, after voraciously acquiring licenses in emerging countries, ill-equipped to negotiate the long term values of these licenses versus the free network infrastructures these companies provided. The launch of their proprietary SATERR (Satellite Aerial Terrestrial Relay) technology proved instrumental to creating the first fully vertical service /network/ content / device conglomerates.  
Few were the operators who have been able to discern the importance of evolving their core asset "enabling communication" into a dominant position in their market. Those who have succeeded share a few common attributes: They realized first that their business was not about counting calls, bites or texts but enabling communication. They first started to think in term of services and not technology and understood that the key was inservice enablement. Understating that services come and go and die in a matter of months in the new economy, they strove not to provide the services but to create the platform to enable them.

In some cases, they transitioned to full advertising, personal digital management agency, harnessing big data and analytics to enrich digital services with presence, location, preference, privacy, corporate awareness. This required much changes organizationally, but as it turned out, marketing analyst were much easier and cost effective to recruit than network and telecom engineers. Network management became the toolset, not the vocation. 
In other cases, operators became abstraction layers, enabling content and service providers to better target, advertise, aggregate, obfuscate, disambiguate, contextualize, physical and virtual communication between people and machines.

In all cases they understood that the "value chain" as they used to know it and the consumer need for communication services was better served by an ever changing ecosystem, where there was no "position of strength" and where coopetition was the rule, rather than the exception.
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{Core Analysis}: Are we ready for experience assurance? part II

{Core Analysis}: Are we ready for experience assurance? part II | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

Many vendors’ reporting capabilities are just fine when it comes to troubleshooting issues associated with connectivity or health of their system. Their capability to infer, beyond observation of their own system, the health of a connection or the network is oftentimes limited.  Analytics, by definition require a large dataset that is ideally covering several systems and elements to provide correlation and pattern recognition on otherwise seemingly random events. With a complex environment like the mobile network, it is extremely difficult to understand what a user’s experience is on their phone. There are means to extrapolate and infer the state of a connection, a cell, a service by looking at network connections fluctuations.  Traffic management vendors routinely report on the state of a session by measuring the TCP connection and its changes. Being able to associate with that session the device type, time of the day, location, service being used is good but a far cry from analytics.Most systems will be able to detect if a connection went wrong and a user had a sub-par experience. Being able to tell why, is where analytics’ value is. Being able to prevent it is big data territory.So what is experience assurance? How does (should) it work? For instance, a client calls the call center to complain about a poor video experience. The video was sluggish to start with, started 7 seconds after pressing play and started buffering after 15 seconds of playback.A DPI engine would be able to identify whether TCP and HTTP traffic were running efficiently at the time of the connection.A probe in the RAN would be able to report a congestion event in a specific location.A video reporting engine would be able to look at whether the definition and encoding of the video was compatible with the network speed at the time.The media player in the device would be able to report whether there was enough resources locally to decode, buffer, process and play the video.A video gateway should be able to detect the connection impairment in real time and to provide the means to correct or elegantly notify of the impending state of the video before the customer experiences a negative QoE.A big data analytics platform should be able to point out that the poor experience is the result of a congestion in that cell that occurs nearly daily at the same time because the antenna serving that cell is in an area where there is a train station and every day the rush hour brings throngs of people connecting to that cell at roughly the same time.An experience assurance framework would be able to provide feedback instruction to the policy framework, forcing download, emails and non-real-time data traffic to be delayed to account for short burst of video usage until the congestion passes. It should also allow to decide what the minimum level of quality should be for video and data traffic, in term of delivery, encoding speed, picture quality, start up time, etc… and proactively manage the video traffic to that target when the network “knows” that congestion is likely Experience assurance is a concept that is making its debut when it comes to data and video services. To be effective, a proper solution should ideally be able to gather real time events from the RAN, the core, the content, the service provider and the device and to decide in real-time what is the nature of the potential impairment, what are the possible course of actions to reduce or negate the impairment or what are the means to notify the user of a sub-optimal experience. No single vendor, to my knowledge is able to achieve this use case, either on its own or through partnerships at this point in time. The technology vendors are too specialized, the elements involved in the delivery and management of data traffic too loosely integrated to offer real experience assurance at this point in time. Vendors who want to provide experience assurance should first focus on the data. Most systems create event or call logs, registering hundreds of parameters every session, every second. Properly representing what is happening on the platform itself is quite difficult. It is an exercise in interpretation and representation of what is relevant and actionable and what is merely interesting. This is an exercise in small data. Understanding relevance and discriminating good data from over engineered logs is key.  

A good experience assurance solution must rely on a strong detection, analytics and traffic management solution. When it comes to video, this means a video gateway that is able to perform deep media inspection and to extract data points that can be exported into a reporting engine. The data exported cannot be just a dump of every event or every session. The reporting engine is only going to be as good as the quality of the data that is fed into it. This is why traffic management products must be designed with analytics in mind from the ground up if they are to be efficiently integrated within an experience assurance framework.

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Net neutrality advocates target mobile TV

Net neutrality advocates target mobile TV | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

Canada’s telecom regulator must soon decide whether to restrict billing practices associated with a handful of apps that let users stream live and on-demand television stations on their mobile devices.

For a fee of about $5 per month, the apps typically let subscribers stream up to 10 hours of television content without that time counting against the limit on data in their wireless plans. It sounds like a great deal for consumers wary of hefty cellphone bills but some say it gives the cellular providers’ affiliated TV services an unfair leg up over competing online video services.

Now these services have been caught up in the growing debate over “net neutrality,” a long-standing principle that essentially means Internet carriers, such as cellphone and cable companies, should not restrict content providers such as YouTube, Wikipedia, bloggers or anyone else. Some fear that without rules supporting net neutrality, telecom companies could interfere with content flowing over their networks by blocking or slowing access to material from competitors or giving preference to their own services.

Critics say the practice of cellphone carriers exempting certain material from data caps violates net neutrality by treating content differently and the issue is now before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

The case before the CRTC is based on a complaint filed last November by Ben Klass, a Manitoba graduate student who said BCE Inc.’sMobile TV app gives the television service affiliated with the company’s broadcast division a preference over other over-the-top (OTT) streaming video services such as Netflix Inc.(BCE owns 15 per cent of The Globe and Mail.)

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre filed similar complaints in January about mobile TV apps offered by Rogers Communications Inc.and Quebecor Inc.’s wireless business Videotron, both of which offer similar pricing and exemption from data caps(although Videotron has since launched an iPhone version of the app that bills users based on the amount of data consumed). PIAC argued the apps give consumers little practical choice as viewing the same amount of video content from a competing service costs substantially more due to data charges.

The CRTC combined the three complaints into one proceeding and final written arguments from all sides were filed last month. It’s not clear when a decision will be issued.

BCE argues its Mobile TV app – which had 1.3 million subscribers as of the first quarter of 2014 – is a broadcasting service and not subject to telecom rules. It says the app does not harm services not affiliated with the company and points out use of Netflix and YouTube to stream video is growing exponentially despite mobile TV options. Rogers and Videotron also point to the dominance of those OTT video providers and argue that mobile video is still a new product.

In the United States, cellular giant AT&T Inc. announced a “sponsored data” program in January that lets mobile customers use participating apps without it counting against their monthly data allowance while the app developers or content providers pay for the network usage. The program drew barbs from net neutrality advocates who said it could be used by the Apples and Googles of the world to promote their content to the detriment of smaller competitors.

Chile’s telecommunications regulator recently came out against wireless carriers offering social-media plans that let customers use services such as Twitter, WhatsApp and Facebook without signing up for more expensive data packages with complete Internet access. In May the regulator said those plans violated Chile’s net neutrality law by privileging the selected sites over competing social networks.

Daniel Lyons, associate professor at Boston College Law School and a specialist in Internet regulation, says the Chilean decision to fine carriers for offering social media plans “actually harms poor people.”

“Maybe there are a number of customers who either can’t or don’t want to pay for entire Internet access, but they’d love to be able to access Facebook on the go,” he said.

The challenge before the CRTC doesn’t engage the same socioeconomic dynamics, Mr. Lyons said, but zero-rated deals can be good or bad for consumers. “I think [the carriers] have a point that video over the Internet, especially over mobile devices, is still in its infancy, so it’s helpful to give customers an incentive to at least try out the product,” Mr. Lyons said.

Geoff White, who acts as legal counsel for PIAC, says the idea of companies making connectivity more accessible and affordable – as in the Chilean example – is appealing. The problem, he says, comes with pre-selecting the type of content users can access.

“That intuitively contradicts what the Internet is meant to be: an open access, unfiltered communications medium provided by telecoms whose sole role under the law is to pass the data from point A to point B – not to tell you what you can and cannot view, or to price some data more attractively than other data,” he said.

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FCC weighs into Netflix-Verizon streaming row

FCC weighs into Netflix-Verizon streaming row | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

US communications regulator the FCC is investigating who is at fault for the problems occurring with streaming Netflix content via some broadband operators, notably Verizon.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler issued a statement that read: “As the consumer’s representative we need to know what is going on. I have therefore directed the Commission staff to obtain the information we need to understand precisely what is happening in order to understand whether consumers are being harmed.”

It continued: “Recently, at my direction, Commission staff has begun requesting information from ISPs and content providers. We have received the [recently agreed interconnection] agreements between Comcast and Netflix and Verizon and Netflix. We are currently in the process of asking for others.”

Wheeler added that the FCC is information-collecting mode and is not yet regulating. “We are looking under the hood,” he said. “Consumers want transparency. They want answers. And so do I.”

Verizon and Netflix have been involved in a bitter war of words and both blamed each other the streaming problems affecting the viewing of Netflix content. Verizon issued a cease and desist notice, claiming an on-screen notice Netflix was posting blaming the Verizon network for viewing problems could damage its reputation and alleging that Netflix was to blame for the core issue.

Netflix responded with a letter in which it said Verizon was to blame for the streaming issues and that it was letting down its customers. It added that the contentious notices, part of what it called a transparency testing, will be stopped from today (June 16).

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BBC Media Player brings adaptive bit-rate to Android

BBC Media Player brings adaptive bit-rate to Android | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

The BBC has launched a new version of its Media Player, the application it launched two years ago as a response to Adobe’s decision to remove support for the Flash Player plug-in, on the Google Play Store and Amazon Store. 

The new version of the BBC Media Player brings adaptive bit-rate streaming of BBC content to Android users for the first time, delivering the same range of features as those already available to computer users.

Other features launched on the new version ahead of the World Cup and Commonwealth Games include the ability to rewind back to the beginning of live event coverage and the option to jump to the beginning of defined segments within an event, such as the second half of a football game, according to Cathy Bartlett, senior product manager, media playout product, BBC Future Media.

Bartlett said in a blog posting that the BBC would work on rolling out these features to its other apps, including BBC iPlayer, over the next few months.

Bartlett said that the BBC’s next goal is to introduce adaptive bit-rate streaming for all its catch-up programming. Ultimately, she said, the BBC aims to enable video playback without the need to launch a separate application.

Media Player was launched in 2012 as a way of securely playing BBC content on Android devices, beginning with the mobile version of BBC iPlayer, following Adobe’s decision to withdraw support for the Flash Player on mobile browsers.

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BBC to trial UHD during the World Cup

BBC to trial UHD during the World Cup | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

The BBC has announced plans to run a series of Ultra High Definition, 4K, broadcast trials during the football World Cup later this month. 

The closed trials will be conducted during all three games that are set to be produced in UHD by FIFA TV from the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro – one match from the last 16, a quarter final match and the final.

The BBC said the trial will mark the first time that live UHD coverage will be delivered simultaneously over digital terrestrial television (DTT) and internet protocol (IP) technologies ‘to the home’ and will help the corporation to better understand the latest UHD distribution technologies and standards and inform future developments and best practices.

“The live UHD streams will be transported from Brazil by satellite to the UK where they will be decoded and distributed, via existing broadcast and super-fast broadband infrastructure, to a number of compatible consumer UHD TV sets in selected R&D facilities,” said the BBC.

With the trial, the corporation said it aims to look at three key areas of research: a future hybrid broadcasting model; delivering UHD TV efficiently; and delivering high quality UHD TV.

The trial will examine the use of High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) for distribution over both DTT and over the top IP networks, and will also test the use of MPEG-DASH adaptive bitrate technology for high quality video delivery over IP networks.

“BBC R&D has an outstanding track record as a catalyst for bringing the industry together and delivering the future of television to audiences. These trials are an excellent example of that tradition as a major technical achievement, such as distributing UHD TV over DTT and IP simultaneously from Rio, can only be made possible by close collaboration with a range of organisations,” said Matthew Postgate, controller, BBC R&D.

“The trials will prove hugely valuable in furthering our understanding of UHD technology, and potential distribution models for the future, as well providing real benefits for licence fee payers in the near-term.”

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World Cup 2014 Fans Deterred from Watching Games on Mobile Devices

Research commissioned by Openwave Mobility , across UK, Spain and Germany has revealed that 1 in 3 British consumers who would love to watch the Brazilian World Cup on a mobile device are put off by poor mobile video quality and fears of "bill shock" from their operators. The dissatisfaction with pricing and the quality of mobile video are some of the findings from the independent survey conducted by Censuswide, which interviewed over 2,200 mobile users across the three countries last month (May 2014).

Subscribers from the previous World Cup winners Spain were three times more likely (68%) to watch the likes of Sergio Ramos or Xabi Alonso in action on a mobile device than UK subscribers watching Roy Hodgson's men. 1 in 4 in the UK (21.6%) and just under half of (39%) German fans will switch on their mobiles to watch the matches from Brazil. Spain's mobile subscribers are clearly reflecting their country's chances of lifting the cup again!

However there was disappointing news from Europe's smartphone savvy football fans when it came to data charges and the quality of mobile video. Of the people who would like to watch the games on mobile, 1 in 3 Brits will refrain from doing so due to fears of bill shock or expectation of poor video quality. In Germany - three times World Cup winners- similarly 1 in 3 said they would refrain due to fears around bill shock but a huge 1 in 2 quoted appalling mobile video quality as the reason for staying indoors with a conventional TV set. In Spain there was less criticism with only1 in 4 subscribers quoting bill shock fears and quality of mobile video as factors deterring them from watching the World Cup on mobile.

John Giere, CEO at Openwave Mobility commented: "Mobile operators must capitalize on the exponential demand for video. A major event like the World Cup does not only generate instantaneous revenues, it can also change habits as people who were not mobile video users realise that this is a great way to keep up with the action. As part of the research, we also looked at the growth in mobile video from the 2010 World Cup. Across Europe we saw 2 to 4 times as many people wanting to view at least part of the games on mobile in 2014. This is not just due to an increase in smartphone penetration, that was already high in 2010. This is more about the increasing penetration of mobile video as an activity people can engage with and enjoy. Unfortunately it seems that much of this momentum will be lost through the old perceptions of high price and low quality."

The survey also asked consumers if they were prepared to pay their mobile operators for high quality mobile video. Interestingly, despite the fears described over unknown data charges, of those people wanting to watch the games on mobile 43% of Spanish, 34% of German and 21% of British subscribers were all happy to pay a fixed fee, ie a video-service subscription fee, to their mobile operator for HD quality World Cup footage. Giere continued: "The fact is that consumers are happy to pay a fee for a service that delivers quality and gives them a great user experience. It is now more important than ever for mobile operators to meet the insatiable appetite for mobile video and monetize their data."

Sue Rudd, Director Service Provider at Strategy Analytics commented "Strategy Analytics surveys show that consumers are now regularly watching video on mobile devices. Mobile operators and their TV partners around the world are gearing up for mobile delivery of the 2014 World Cup to smartphones and tablets and there is the opportunity for operators to let users experience the addictiveness of high quality video as a service. To ensure a premium experience these operators need to offer end-to-end optimized delivery and management. Vendors like Openwave Mobility offer important video mechanisms to help these operators deliver a great viewing experience over mobile broadband for what is likely to be the most watched World Cup ever."

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How Netflix is not using SDN / NFV for its video architecture

How Netflix is not using SDN / NFV for its video architecture | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

Our 48 million members are accustomed to seeing a screen like this, whether on their TV or one of the 1000+ other Netflix devices they enjoy watching on. But the simple act of pressing play calls into action a deep and complex system that handles the DRM licenses, contract evaluations, CDN selection, and more. This system is known internally as the Playback Service and is responsible for making your Netflix streaming experience seem effortless. The original Playback Service was built before Netflix was synonymous with streaming.  As our product matured, the existing architecture became more difficult to support and started showing signs of stress.  For example, we debuted HTML5 support last summer on IE11 in a major step towards standards-based playback on web platforms.  This required adoption of a new device security model that works with the emerging HTML5 Web Cryptography API.  It would have been very challenging to integrate this new model into our original architecture due to poor separation of business and security logic.  This and other shortcomings pushed us to re-imagine our design, leading to a radically different solution with the following as our key design requirements: Operation at massive scaleHigh velocity innovationReusability of components

High-level Architecture The new Playback Service uses self-assembling components to handle the enormous volume of traffic Netflix gets each day.  The following is an overview of that architecture; with special focus given to how requests are delegated to these components which are dynamically assembled and executed within an internal rule engine.  We will examine the building blocks of this architecture and show the benefits of using small, reusable components that are automatically wired together to create an emergent system.  This post will focus on the smallest units of the new architecture and the ideas behind self-assembly.  It will be followed up by others that go deeper into how we implement these concepts in the new architecture and address some challenges inherent to this approach.

Bottom-up We started from the bottom up; defining the building blocks of the new architecture in a way that promotes loose coupling and clear separation of concerns.  These building blocks are called Processors: entities that take zero or more inputs and generate no more than one output.  These are the smallest computational unit of the architecture and behave like commands ala The Gang of Four.  Below is a diagram that shows a processor that takes A, B, C and generates D.This metaphor generalizes well given that many complex tasks can be subdivided into discrete, function-like steps.  It also matches the way most engineers already think about problem decomposition.  This definition enables processors to be as specialized as necessary, promoting low interconnectedness with other parts of the system.  These qualities make the system easier to reason about, enhance, and test. The Playback Service--like other complex systems--can be modelled as a black box that takes inputs and generates outputs.  The conversion of some input A to an output E can be defined as a function f(A) = E and modelled as a single processor.Of course, using a single processor only makes sense for very simple systems.  More complex services  would be decomposed into finer-grained processors as illustrated below.Here you can see that the computation of Eis handled as several processor invocations.  This flow resembles a series of function calls in a Java program, but there are some fundamental differences.  The difficulty with normal functions is someone has to invoke them and decide how they are wired together.  Essentially, the decomposition of f(A) = E above is usually something the entire team needs to understand and maintain.  This places a cap on system evolution since scaling the system means scaling each engineer.  It also increases the cost of scaling the team since minimum ramp-up time is directly proportional to the system complexity. But what if you could have functions that self-assemble?  What if processors could simply advertise their inputs/outputs and the wiring between them were an emergent property of that particular collection of processors?

Self-assembling Components The hypothesis is that complex systems can be built efficiently if they are reduced to small, local problems that are solved in relative isolation with processors.  These small blocks are then automatically assembled to reveal a fully formed system.  Such a system would no longer require engineers to understand their entire scope before making significant contributions.  These systems would be free to scale without taxing their engineering teams proportionally.  Likewise, their teams could grow without investing in lots of onboarding time for each new member. We can use the decomposition we did above for f(A) = E to illustrate how a self-assembly would work.  Here is a simplified version of the diagram we saw earlier.This system solves for A => E using the processors shown.  However, this could be a more sophisticated system containing other processors that do not participate in the computation of E given A.  Consider the following, where the system’s complete set of processors is included in the diagram. The other processors are inactive for this computation, but various combinations would become active under different inputs.  Take a case where the inputs were J, and W and processors were in place to handle these inputs such that the computation J,W => Y were possible. The inputs J and W would trigger a different set of processors than before; leaving those that computed A => E dormant. The processors triggered for some inputs is an emergent property of the complete set of processors within the system.  An assembler mechanism exists to determine when each processor can participate in the computation.  It makes this decision at runtime, allowing for a fully dynamic wiring for each request.  As a result, processors can be organized in any way and do not need to be aware of each other.  This makes their functionality easier to add, remove, and update than conventional mechanisms like switch statements or inheritance; which are statically determined and more rigidly structured. Extending traditional systems often means ramping up on a lot of code to understand where the relevant inflection points are for a change or feature.  Self-assembly relaxes the urgency for this deeper context and shifts the focus towards getting the right interaction designs for each component.  It also enables more thorough testing since processors are naturally isolated from each other and simpler to unit test.  They can also be assembled and run as a group with mocked dependencies to facilitate thorough end-to-end validation. Self-assembly frees engineers to focus on solving local problems and adding value without having to wrestle with the entire end-to-end context.  State validation is a good example of an enhancement that requires only local context with this architecture.  The computation of J,W => Y above can be enhanced to include additional validation of V whenever it is generated.  This could be achieved by adding a new processor that operates on V as an input: illustrated below. The new processor V => V would take a value and raise an error if that value is invalid for some reason.  This validation would be triggered whenever V is present in the system, whether or not J,W => Y is being computed.  This is by design; meaning each processor is reused whenever its services are needed. This validator pattern emerges often in the new Playback Service.  For example, we use it to detect whether data sent by clients has been tampered with mid-flight.  This is done using HMAC calculations to verify the data matches a client provided hash value.  As with other processors, the integrity protection service provided this way is available for use during any request.

Challenges of Self-assembly The use of self-assembling components offers clear advantages over hand wiring.  It enables fluid architectures that can change dynamically at runtime and simplifies feature isolation so components can evolve rapidly with minimal impact to the overall system.  Moreover, it decouples team size from system complexity so the two can scale independently. Despite these benefits, building a working solution that enables self-assembly is non-trivial.  Such a system has to decide which operations are executed when, and in what order.  It has to manage the computation pipeline without adding too much overhead or complexity; all while scaling up with the set of processors.  It also needs to be relatively unobtrusive so developers can remain focused on building the service.  These were some of the challenges my team had to overcome when building the new Playback architecture atop the concepts of self-assembly.

Patrick Lopez's insight:

It is interesting to read about Netflix' new Playback architecture. Many similar concepts as current virtualization, software defined trends we have seen in IT, but different conclusions and implementation.

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Vodafone UK in exclusive Netflix partnership

Vodafone UK in exclusive Netflix partnership | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

Vodafone is to launch an exclusive mobile promotional partnership with Internet television network Netflix. The agreement will give Vodafone Red 4G customers in the UK the opportunity to access, via their smartphones, tablets or other devices, a wide variety of movies and TV box sets, including original series, for a period of six months.

The cellco says that combined with “as much UK mobile Internet as you want” for the first three months, followed by generous data allowances and unlimited talk and text, it is “yet another brilliant reason“ to choose a Vodafone Red 4G plan.

The promotional offer of six months Netflix with Vodafone Red 4G price plans will be available in-store, online and by phone from July. Vodafone Red 4G customers choosing Netflix will have access to a wide variety of movies and TV box sets, including original series such as the BAFTA-nominated House of Cards, Arrested Development and Orange is the New Black, for six months with the offer available to customers until December 2014. Netflix allows its members to watch instantly as many TV programmes and films as they want, as often as they want, anytime and anywhere they want. Customers will be able to use their smartphones or tablets to watch an ever growing selection of titles, with new episodes added regularly, and start watching on one device while resuming on another.

Cindy Rose, Consumer Director Vodafone UK said: “With 4G, speed is just the start: it’s what you can do with it that’s really exciting. We’re delighted to be partnering with Netflix so that our Red 4G customers can enjoy their favourite TV programmes and films when out and about. We’re already offering 4G in hundreds of cities, towns and villages across the UK, providing an amazing video streaming experience. There’s no need to mess about finding a WiFi hotspot, with ultra-fast 4G you can just enjoy your favourite entertainment on the move whenever you want it.”

Bill Holmes, head of business development at Netflix, said that Netflix was all about giving people the freedom to watch what they want to watch, when they’d like to watch it, on whatever device. “This partnership with Vodafone further enhances that freedom to watch while on the go,” he noted.

In the last few months, Vodafone has expanded its ultra-fast 4G coverage to 233 cities and towns and hundreds of smaller communities across the UK.

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Telefonica, Cyan, Red Hat to optimise NFV architecture

Telefonica, Cyan, Red Hat to optimise NFV architecture | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

Software defined networking (SDN) specialist Cyan has announced a collaboration with European carrier Telefónica and Linux developer Red Hat to develop a network functions virtualization (NFV) architecture optimised for communications service providers.

Using the Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack platform, Cyan’s Blue Planet SDN toolkit will be designed to orchestrate the deterministic placement of virtual network functions in the server infrastructure to maximize performance.

“Telefónica believes NFV is an important and transformative technology,” said Enrique Algaba, Network Innovation and Virtualisation Director at Telefónica I+D-Global CTO Unit. “We believe that the deterministic allocation of CPU, memory, I/O, and storage relative to a particular type of VNF is critical to delivering the predictable performance needed for telco-grade network functions. This new deterministic architecture transforms a generic cloud computing data center into a Telco Data Center capable of supporting NFV.”

Indeed, Telefónica is one of the most vigorous operators within the NFV proponents and the firm marked the opening of MWC 2014 by setting out aggressive plans for the virtualization of its network functions, including detailed timelines relating to different network elements. The project has been dubbed ‘Unica’ and has as its headline aim the virtualization of 30 per cent of all new infrastructure by 2016.


Enrique Blanco, global CTO, Telefónica


Ahead of the announcement, at the firm’s sprawling headquarters complex in Madrid, Telefónica’s global CTO Enrique Blanco briefed a small number of industry press about the firm’s plans.

Telefónica is “reaching the limits” of the performance it can drive from proprietary vendor platforms, Blanco says and the “lever” with which the operator can exert the greatest force for change is virtualization.

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Cisco vs. VMware highlights divide in SDN thinking

Cisco vs. VMware highlights divide in SDN thinking | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

Cisco CEO John Chambers indicated the company is staking out a beachhead in software-defined networking (SDN), predicting his company will come to dominate the nascent category.


"We will be the best implementer of SDN in the world. It will not only benefit Cisco; we will lead the industry," said Chambers, whose remarks from his opening keynote at the Cisco Live event this week were reported by SDNCentral.

Chambers said Cisco can lead the SDN market because it is taking a whole-architecture view of the SDN market rather than selling individual pieces. Its proprietary combination of switches, software and security make up Cisco's hardware-centric Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI), which the company announced almost one year ago.


Repeating a long-standing product positioning message from Cisco, Chambers said another strength that will play into the vendor's envisioned SDN dominance is that it does not rely upon merchant-silicon for its products and uses ASICs instead.

Cisco's approach to SDN and data center orchestration differs starkly from that of competitor VMware. Cisco's non-abstraction approach, not surprisingly, is focused on its long-time core competency around selling hardware. VMware NSX's network virtualization platform with an Ethernet fabric, on the other hand, represents an abstraction approach with software overlay.

"It's clear we have two giants not so much fighting for revenue, because there is not much overlap here. One sells hardware and one sells software. The fight here is for influence. If you choose to be strategically aligned with VMware or Cisco ACI, ultimately that's going to lessen the influence of the other player," Mark Fabbi, vice president and lead author of Gartner's Data Center Networking Magic Quadrant, told SDNSearch.

The blurring demarcation between vendors is causing market confusion for data center buyers in all verticals, including telecom operators and others.

Brandon Mangold, network architect for United Airlines, told SearchSDN: "In the traditional environment, you have influencers in silos--Cisco predominant in networking, EMC for storage, VMware for virtualization, and maybe IBM for services and HP or someone else for servers. Now, all of a sudden, those lines are blurring, especially with Cisco and VMware, who are very dominant in their respective areas."

Though the ongoing VMware-Cisco SDN struggle will keep buyers in a "heightened state of confusion" until there is a clear winner, Fabbi said the ongoing debate is beneficial. "Every time we get healthy debate on architectural approaches and ways of doing things better, it's good for the industry. In the short term, it creates a bit of confusion."


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{Core Analysis}: Q2 multiscreen video news

{Core Analysis}: Q2 multiscreen video news | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
I use a service to curate and collate my news. Reading through the last few months, I realized that there are so many subjects worthy of comment that a single post wouldn't begin to address them meaningfully. I reserve in-depth analysis of specific trend or topic for my paying clients, so I decided to review and comment on press clippings and announcements as they become available as a way to illustrate the trends, threats and opportunities surrounding our market.Here is what caught my attention in the last quarter: Technology: Is 4K the new 3D?April of course is synonymous with NAB frenzy. Sifting through the trough of announcements at the show, I have noticed a sharp change of direction in vendor’s announcements and claims from last year. When 2013 was all about HEVC H.265, this year seems to be about 4K. While HEVC licensing terms have been agreed and announced by MPEGLA in February, Google’s royalty-free VP9 has captured some support as well, forcing chipset and platform vendors to contemplate fragmentation and multi codec support. Obviously, the battle for codec and protocol will determine who controls the management and delivery of 4K content going forward. In this race, not surprisingly, YouTube is siding with its parent company with VP9 support, while Netflix is adopting H.265. Both companies agree though, and are adamant, that 4K is a lot easier to manage and deliver for OTT properties than for traditional broadcasting payTV providers. Netflix forecasts mass market for 4K to be five years out at the current rate of TV replacements. My opinion is that 4K adoption will suffer from H265/VP9 fragmentation. We will probably see further delays because of the cost of implementing dual protocol stack throughout the delivery chain. Technology: Cloud, SDN, NFVAt NAB as well, vendors were eager to show off their new acronyms, touting dreams of cloud-based virtualized, self-managed, software-defined networks that would… In reality, most MSOs are still focusing on rolling out HD, improving and automatizing workflows and overall costs reduction. I think we still have 5 years to go before seeing practical, mature implementation of SDN in professional video. Anything else is a science experiment or a proprietary implementation at this point. Business: MSO to OTTOne of the big news was the announcement from AT&T regarding their intent to invest, jointly with the Chernin Group up to $500million to create SVOD and advertising based web streaming services. Umm... Is it too much or not enough? $500 million goes a long way if you want to build a web streaming service, but it does not seem nearly enough if you want to build an attractive content offering.HBO, the next day was reported to have signed a multi-year agreement with Amazon. The deal should see some of HBO’s back catalogue series made available to Amazon Prime subscribers. Little by little, HBO nudges the boundaries. You will remember that it signed a deal with Comcast last year to offer HBO Go to Comcast broadband subscribers, without a cable subscription. All signs point that HBO could be a major league OTT provider when they will be ready to cross over. Business: OTT to WirelessAlmost coincidentally, rumours emerged that Netflix was in discussions with the Vodafone Group to distribute Netflix services on some Vodafone subscriptions. It is likely that these deals will increase in frequency. LTE /4G will see opportunities for cord-never and cord-shavers to access their favourite service and content on cellular networks. That is… if they figure out the charging model (paying 8$ a month for Netflix and $150 in data overage charge to Vodafone wouldn't really work). Business: OTT to MSONetflix has integrated its offering on Atlantic Broadband, Grande Communication and RCN Telecom services set-top boxes, a first in the US after having piloted the concept in Europe. Subscribers will be able to select the service from their PayTV provider. It is an interesting strategy for small MSOs to bundle Netflix in hybrid Set top boxes. It increases reach, provides an attractive offering and good differentiation against market leaders. Business: M&AKaltura bought TVinci to expand its SVOD offering to live and linear programming. Arris bought SeaWell Networks for its advertising insertion and packaging at the edge technology. SeaWell Networks’ strong adaptive bit rate streaming skill set will be invaluable to expand the company’s multiscreen strategy. That’s all folks for this quarter! I will keep all the good net neutrality commentary for next month, hopefully when the smoke dissipates from the PR battlefield.
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Collaboration is key to mining OTT revenue

Collaboration is key to mining OTT revenue | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

It’s hardly a surprise to point out that OTT is a big challenge for operators. Service providers are spending billions on beefing up capacity to handle the tremendous increase in video and data traffic, but Google, Facebook and other OTT players are walking away with all the revenue.

Despite their best efforts, operators are increasingly seen by many subscribers and content providers as being a mere data pipe.

Platform players like Google, Facebook and Amazon are practically everywhere, but it’s not just in terms of geographical borders – increasingly, players cross lines of business. Telecommunications providers are also investing in healthcare or media and entertainment.

Even if operators themselves want to focus solely on connectivity services, there will be other players who want to use their networks and they need to allow them to do this in more efficient ways. Operators can share channels or customer data with other firms to facilitate the marketplace, allowing other companies to approach their customers more easily.

“We live in a world where the borderless player is emerging”, says Michal Harris of Amdocs. “The players in this Connected World are less defined – they will have to act on this new reality and become more of an ecosystem.”

The way that operators utilise their networks is becoming much more efficient. Operators need to allow more partners to come on board, to introduce new models and extract the data that they already have to run a more efficient operation or provide better customer experience and more innovative business models.

“Service providers have been absorbing disruption – even until recently, they saw OTT as a red flag”, says Harris. “Now, there’s more of a realisation that operators can’t be the sole innovator – they need to open their doors to the companies providing a popular service.”

If a service is popular with customers, it makes sense that they will gravitate towards a network that allows them to use this, so by embracing OTT companies operators are actually able to hang on to subscribers. “Operators can’t necessarily avoid the OTT ‘threat’ – there are services that people will use regardless”, says Harris. “Using Facetime over Wi-Fi means that the service provider won’t see any revenue, so providers need to become part of an ecosystem rather than pushing themselves out of it.”

Noam Green, VP Marketing at optimisation and monetisation specialists Flash Networks, agrees. “Mobile operators are exploring ways to secure a place in the value chain and they are beginning to achieve this”, he says. “They have the advantage that they know where subscribers are searching, what they are buying, and what content they like to consume. All this information flows from their handsets through the carrier’s network.”

Using this data, operators can alert subscribers - for example, that they are about to exceed their quota if they watch a video, or that there is a product available for a lower price similar to the one they’re searching for. This data enables operators to provide the right information at the time it brings the greatest value to the user.

In regions where OTT services are gaining traction more slowly, operators still have the opportunity to beat them at their own game. As it sits on the cusp of becoming a one billion person market, Africa is becoming a major focus for OTT players looking to exploit the growing mobile ecosystem. According to IDT Global’s Jonah Fink, the continent’s service providers have the capability to rise to the challenge OTT players provide.

“The goal for service providers is that they basically need to become OTT operators faster than the OTT providers can become carriers,” says Fink, “but they can do it and the fact is that consumers don’t like OTT operators very much – they would stay loyal to the African Telco brands if they could get the same services.”

“Ovum is already estimating that globally carrier OTT could be worth $20bn by 2018. That $20bn will not just fall into laps of African operators – they’ll have to make sure they fight for it. They also predict that OTT operators could cost carriers $63bn per year if they don’t react fast enough and in the correct way”, he adds.

In the next few years, mobile operators will need to find new sources of revenue to maintain their investment-hungry networks. The traditional business model OTT players are used to working with is in the form of revenue share. Operators will need to be able to demonstrate how they can increase these OTT’s players’ revenues, and in turn share this revenue with them. In order to survive, mobile operators will have to adapt to this new revenue sharing model and to develop compelling offerings to enable it.

As Fink observes, “to take on the OTT operators you have to either have very deep pockets, very slick processes and cooperative distribution channels, or be willing to partner with someone who’s already been through the trials and tribulations of launching an app. Customers are not as loyal to OTT operators as they are to African Telco brands, paving the way for operators to launch their own OTT value added services that can take full advantage of this loyalty.”

Green concurs that partnerships will be integral to the OTT space going forward. “With the highly competitive landscape in this market, operators will need to be creative in growing their revenues without reaching into their subscribers pockets. The fastest way to implement this would be by cooperating with the large Internet players such as Google, Facebook, Amazon etc”, he says. “In 3-5 years, this cooperation could also lead to significant revenues which in turn could result in lower mobile prices for subscribers.”

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{Core Analysis}: LTE World Summit 2014

{Core Analysis}: LTE World Summit 2014 | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

This year's 10th edition of the conference, seems to have found a new level of maturity. While VoLTE, RCS, IMS are still subjects of interest, we seem to be past the hype at last (see last year), with a more pragmatic outlook towards implementation and monetization. 

I was happy to see that most operators are now recognizing the importance of managing video experience for monetization. Du UAE's VP of Marketing, Vikram Chadha seems to get it: "We are transitioning our pricing strategy from bundles and metering to services. We are introducing email, social media, enterprise packages and are looking at separating video from data as a LTE monetization strategy."

As a result, the keynotes were more prosaic than in the past editions, focusing on cost of spectrum acquisitions and regulatory pressure in the European Union preventing operators to mount any defensible position against the OTT assault on their networks. Much of the agenda of the show focused on pragmatic subjects such as roaming, pricing, policy management, heterogeneous networks and wifi/cellular handover. Nothing obviously earth shattering on these subjects, but steady progress, as the technologies transition from lab to commercial trials and deployment. 

As an example, there was a great presentation by Bouygues Telecom's EVP of Strategy Frederic Ruciak highlighting the company's strategy for the launch of LTE in France, A very competitive market, and how the company was able to achieve the number one spot in LTE market share, despite being the "challenger" number 3 in 2 and 3G.
The next buzzword on the hype cycle to point its head is NFV with many operator CTOs publicly hailing the new technology as the magic bullet that will allow them to "launch services in days or weeks rather than years". I am getting quite tired of hearing that rationalization as an excuse for the multimillion investments made in this space, especially when no one seems to know what these new services will be. Right now, the only arguable benefit is on capex cost containment and I have seen little evidence that it will pass this stage in the mid term. Like the teenage sex joke, no one seems to know what it is, but everybody claims to be doing it. There is still much to be resolved on this matter and that discussion will continue for some time. The interesting new positioning I heard at the show is appliance vendors referring to their offering as PNF (as in physical) in contrast and as enablers for VNF. Although it sounds like a marketing trick, it makes a lot of sense for vendors to illustrate how NFV inserts itself in a legacy network, leading inevitably to a hybrid network architecture. 
The consensus here seems to be that there are two prevailing strategies for introduction of virtualized network functions. 
The first one, "cap and grow" sees existing infrastructure equipments being capped beyond a certain capacity and little by little complemented by virtualized functions, allowing incremental traffic to find its way on the virtualized infrastructure. A variant might be "cap and burst" where a function subject to bursts traffic is dimensioned on physical assets to the mean peak traffic and all exceeding traffic is diverted to a virtualized function. The second seems to favour the creation of vertical virtualized networks for market or traffic segments that are greenfield. M2M and VoLTE being the most cited examples. 
Both strategies have advantages and flaws that I am exploring in my upcoming report on "NFV & virtualization in mobile networks 2014".Contact me for more information.

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Bell Labs, Net Mobile talk up context-aware video streaming

Bell Labs, Net Mobile talk up context-aware video streaming | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |
Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs, together with German-based mobile services provide Net Mobile, have developed context-aware video streaming to reduce the probability of poor video streaming on the move.The companies claim the technology can deliver a six fold improvement on current streaming levels without consuming extra network capacity. Context-aware Video Streaming is based on Bell Labs’ Context-Aware Radio Access solution. It makes smart use of location-based information, including road and network coverage maps and radio performance data, to deliver algorithms that predict upcoming network performance.  Based on this prediction, more seconds of the video are downloaded to the consumer’s device in areas of good coverage before the vehicle enters a poor coverage area. This results in a dramatic reduction in video stalling and a better quality of experience for the consumer. The quality improvements were measured during test drives in Dusseldorf over a conventional mobile network. Context-Aware Video Streaming is being integrated into Net Mobile’s streaming service for a public trial this summer. Dieter Plassmann, CTO of Net Mobile said: “The improvement of streaming quality while on the go is a major challenge for all stakeholders in the mobile industry, including network operators, equipment vendors, content as well as service providers.” Accoridng to Bell Labs, the demand for video on the move is growing dramatically among consumers and businesses, and as a result, Bell Labs is focused on developing video optimisation solutions for wireless networks, such as the LTE evolved Multimedia broadcast Multicast (eMBMS) technology, and is continuing this research for 5G wireless networks.
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Binge viewing is pervasive in UK, US

Binge viewing is now “pervasive” with 89% of UK viewers watching content in this way thanks to an increase in online-and on-demand access, according to a new study by Edelman. The PR firm, which surveyed 3,000 consumers in the UK, US and China through its Edelman Berland research arm, found that the percentage of US consumers who binge-watch has “increased significantly” in the past year – rising from 86% in 2013 to 94% this year. In China the figure was found to be an “almost universal” 99%. “Interestingly, the desire to satisfy people’s internal needs are the primary drivers for binge-watching, with 72% of respondents watching so they ‘know what happens next’ and 57% noting that they do so to ‘feel caught up,’” said Edelman. Other findings of the research were that more than 80% of the Chinese and 60% of the US and UK respondents multitask while watching entertainment – saying that they were likely to use multiple devices to do something related to the content they are watching. Half of respondents said they were likely to use an app or website to interact with the content if it was designed by the creator (US 56%; UK 46%; China 81%) or not designed by the creator (US 52%; UK 44%; China 71%). Elsewhere, the study found that TV shows were named as the number one most turned to source for entertainment in all markets, while 79% of respondents said they consider YouTube to be a valuable source of entertainment. “This year, we found that consumers want their entertainment ‘selfie-style’ – content centred on them, immediately gratifying, engaging and shareable across their social networks. Brands that can successfully deliver or enhance compelling entertainment to consumers stand to gain through positive word-of-mouth and association,” said Gail Becker, president, strategic partnerships and global integrations, Edelman.

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{Core Analysis}: Cisco VNI global IP 2014: we live in a video world

{Core Analysis}: Cisco VNI global IP 2014: we live in a video world | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

As is now usual, after the february mobile Visual Networking Index, Cisco releases in June the global IP version. Here are a few interesting measurements and forecasts and some associated thoughts.

Global IP traffic's growth is slowing down somewhat, having grown fivefold in the last five years and anticipated to grow threefold over the next five. This is not overly surprising, a 21% CAGR is a sign of a maturing market.


Surprisingly, more than half of the traffic next year should be local (as opposed to long-haul), which underlines the growing importance of CDNs to deliver content at the edge of the network.
CDN delivered in 2013 36% of the data traffic and are set to deliver 55% by 2018, with a growth spurred by OTT video. CDNs will deliver the 67% of all video traffic from 53% today.
I think here, mobile CDNs are not represented, which is unsurprising since most of the movement in that space has happened only recently. Mobile carriers CDNs will add to these numbers.


Cisco predicts that mobile traffic (including wifi) will exceed fixed by 2018 (61 to 39% vs. 44 to 56% in 2013). Again, not so surprising, except we could see in my opinion fixed being overcome earlier than that. Machine to machine traffic over wireless, I think, is quite systematically underestimated.

Mobile data traffic, unsurprisingly still sees a 61% CAGR and will increase eleven fold by 2018.


Video traffic will account for 79% of overall IP traffic by 2018 (66% today). If we add TV and video, we are looking at 90%...

OTT video viewed on connected TVs, consoles, sticks, etc... doubled in 2013 and is set to quadruple by 2018. I believe this is also under-evaluated. I think 4k will weigh heavily on these media and h265 / vp9 will be late to assuage the burden.


All in all, no great surprise this year, a confirmation of last year's trends. I believe that 4k, together with changes in so-called "net neutrality" provisions will accelerate most trends by 1 to 2 years.

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Netflix drops ISP error warnings

Netflix drops ISP error warnings | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

Netflix has said it will stop publishing error warnings in the US, blaming ISPs for poor playback, but at the same time criticised broadband providers for not providing enough capacity.

In a company blog post, Netflix communications executive Joris Evers said that as part of a “transparency campaign” Netflix started a “small scale test in early May that lets consumers know, while they’re watching Netflix, that their experience is degraded due to a lack of capacity into their broadband provider’s network.”

“We are testing this across the US wherever there is significant and persistent network congestion. This test is scheduled to end on June 16. We will evaluate rolling it out more broadly,” he said.

The news comes less than a week after Verizon has issued a cease and desist notice to Netflix demanding it stop publicly stating that issues with the Verizon network are responsible for slow connections affecting playback of series and movies.

In the letter Verizon said Netflix’s claims are ‘deceptive’ and could harm the wider perception of its broadband service.

However, in the blog post, published yesterday to coincide with its latest monthly ISP Speed Index report, Netflix reiterated its belief that ISPs’ actions are causing a “degraded Netflix experience.”

“Netflix does not purposely select congested routes. We pay some of the world’s largest transit networks to deliver Netflix video right to the front door of an ISP. Where the problem occurs is at that door – the interconnection point – when the broadband provider hasn’t provided enough capacity to accommodate the traffic their customer requested,” said Evers.

“Some large US ISPs are erecting toll booths, providing sufficient capacity for services requested by their subscribers to flow through only when those services pay the toll…We believe these ISP tolls are wrong because they raise costs, stifle innovation and harm consumers. ISPs should provide sufficient capacity into their network to provide consumers the broadband experience for which they pay.”

In recent months Netflix has signed interconnect deals with operators in a bid to improve streaming performance for its subs. It agreed a deal in February with Comcast, agreeing to pay the US cable giant to gain direct access to its network to deliver a better quality service to Comcast subscribers. It also agreed a deal with Verizon.

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iPlayer TV traffic from tablets exceeds PCs for the first time

iPlayer TV traffic from tablets exceeds PCs for the first time | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

BBC iPlayer TV programme requests from tablets were higher than from computers for the first time in April, according to the corporation’s latest catch-up service stats. 

The BBC said that 30% of TV content requested during the month on iPlayer was from tablets, compared to 28% from computers and 18% from mobile devices.

The rest of the traffic was made up of TV platform operators, smart TVs, games consoles and other connected devices.

Combined TV and radio programme requests to the iPlayer were up 4% year-on-year in the month, with average daily requests reaching 8.9m – “remaining higher than we saw for much of last year,” said the BBC.

EastEnders was very popular on iPlayer throughout April, making up 16 of the top 20 TV programmes on the service. Champions League Football, meanwhile, generated large volumes of radio requests.

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Telekom Austria shows off streaming video on NFV

Telekom Austria shows off streaming video on NFV | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

Telekom Austria subsidiary VipNet has demonstrated HD video streaming by using LTE and network function virtualisation, becoming the first operator in the group to demonstrate NFV.

The operator, which recently marked its 15th birthday, said the demo showed how consumers will record and stream smartphne content and multimedia onto a cloud based storage system by using a virtual infrastructure. If this use case takes off, it would mean consumers would not have to offload content from their smartphones onto their PC, ensuring data is better protected against loss.

Günther Ottendorfer, CTO of Telekom Austria Group [pictured], said: "We are absolutely confident that the NFV technology is a defining trend in the mobile industry. We are therefore very pleased with Vipnet's initiative to explore and implement NFV. The success and efficiency goes along with the 15th anniversary of innovation strategy at Vipnet. For Telekom Austria Group, this is just the beginning of a journey to explore the latest technologies and further improve services for our customers,  performance, experience or availability."

Telecom Austria said it is building upon the VipNet demo with a number of further NFV trials. It said that innovation on network infrastructure will be important for its differentiation in the years to come. Mladen Pejkovic, CEO Vipnet, said: “We are more than pleased that Vipnet counts among one of the first operators in Europe to showcase the NFV technology. NFV is not only an important topic within the Telco industry today´s showcase also strongly emphasizes our successful 15 years innovation strategy.”

Last week, Telefonica announced it was building an NFV management platform with Red Hat and Intel and had also set up an NFV lab to test and develop new features for virtualised networks. The Spanish operator aims to have 30 percent of its network virtualised by 2016, following its Unica initiative.

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Samsung unveils first Tizen smartphone; confirms Russia as debut market

Samsung unveils first Tizen smartphone; confirms Russia as debut market | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

Samsung introduced what it says is the first commercially available smartphone powered by the Tizen platform – Samsung Z – although the device is not scheduled to go on sale, in Russia, until the third quarter.

The new device, which Samsung is presenting as its latest premium smartphone, goes on display tomorrow (3 June) at the Tizen Developer Conference, San Francisco.

As expected, Russia is the debut market for the new device with more market launches planned. The South Korean manufacturer did not say where the Samsung Z would appear next or the timetable for market expansion.

It seems a safe bet, however, that some of Russia’s neighbouring countries are high up on the list of target markets. Samsung said in a statement that it plans to host Tizen local app challenges in Russia and CIS countries to “enrich the Tizen ecosystem” at the launch of the device.

Extolling the virtues of Tizen, Samsung said that the platform offers a “fast and powerful software performance” and that the new device comes replete with a 4.8-inch HD super ‘amoled’ display and a 2.3GHz quadcore processor.

“The Samsung Z integrates the power and adaptability of the Tizen platform, enabling users to browse the web faster and utilise applications more effectively,” said DJ Lee, Samsung’s president and head of global sales & marketing (mobile communications).

Other device features, said Samsung,  include “superb 2D and 3D graphic qualities” along with “smoother scrolling and an improved rendering performance for web browsing”.

A built-in fingerprint sensor gives additional privacy protection, while an “ultra-power saving mode” is designed to let the phone stay operational – at minimal battery levels – in case of emergencies.

The device is available in black and gold.

Up until this announcement, Samsung had limited its public support of Tizen to its latest Galaxy Gear smart watches.

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Video optimization: OTT messaging challenges operators RCR Wireless

Video optimization: OTT messaging challenges operators RCR Wireless | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

Developers of video optimization software have a number of tools to offer service providers who want to reduce bandwidth consumption, but these tools are of limited use when video is encrypted. When content is encrypted it cannot be transcoded or altered, but it can be accelerated to maximize network resources.

Netflix is perhaps the best-known example of encrypted content, but there are others, including many of the videos and images shared via popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat. “Social networks apps are increasingly relying on encryption to protect their traffic,” said analyst Patrick Lopez of Core Analysis. “TCP optimization is the only technology that can be applied to enhance customer experience in this case.”

Flash Networks says it is the first mobile optimization vendor to use TCP optimization to accelerate upload speeds for OTT messaging services. The company points out that unlike Netflix movies and YouTube videos, social media content needs to be optimized in both directions.

“Unlike with traditional content consumption, where content is consumed mainly by downloading it from a central server, content-sharing applications require both upload and download to be accelerated to ensure subscriber satisfaction and improve customer retention,” said Noam Green, vice president of marketing at Flash Networks. The company uses patented technology to optimize LTE bandwidth utilization, claiming up to 30% faster upload speeds. Flash Networks’ TCP-4TE uses inline high-speed congestion-detection algorithms to dynamically adjust transmission rates based on real-time network conditions.

“The benefit is traditionally a reduction in latency, which decreases the time necessary to transport traffic,” said Lopez. “TCP optimization is not new but vendors in this space have traditionally focused on the downstream.”

Focusing on the downstream leaves a significant portion of the traffic untouched when it comes to social media and OTT messaging. Last month WhatsApp (which is set to be acquired by Facebook) tweeted that it had handled 64 billion messages in one day, and 20 billion of those were uploads. The number of received messages (downloads) always exceeds the number sent (uploads) because users often send to multiple recipients.

Within hours of WhatsApp’s boast about 64 billion messages, Twitter posts were saying that the app was unavailable, presumably due to heavy traffic. For mobile operators, the harsh reality is that when an OTT app has problems, the carrier is as likely as the content provider to be blamed. That’s exactly why operators are exploring optimization solutions for mobile content.

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More on video optimization:
RCR Wireless feature report, available on demand
Core Analysis use cases report.

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{Core Analysis}: NFV & SDN part III: mobile video

{Core Analysis}: NFV & SDN part III: mobile video | Mobile Video, OTT and payTV |

I have spent the last couple of months with some of the most brilliant technologists and strategists working on the latest networking technologies, standards and code.

Cloud, SDN, NFV, OpenStack, network virtualization, opendaylight, orchestration...

Everyone looks at making networks more programmable, agile, elastic, intelligent. Some of the sought benefits are faster time to market for new services, lower cost of operation, new revenue from new services, simpler network operation and service orchestration... This is very much about making IT more flexible and cost efficient.

Telcos, wireless vendors and operators are gravitating towards these organizations, hoping to benefit from these progress and implement them in wireless networks.
Here is what I don't quite get:Mobile is the fastest growing ICT in the world (30% CAGR). Video is the largest (>50% of data volume) and fastest growing service in mobile (75% CAGR). 
Little, if any, of the working groups or organizations I have followed so far have dedicated telco (let alone wireless) working groups and none seem to address the need for next generation video delivery networks.I am not half as smart as many of the engineers, technologist and strategist contributing to these organizations so I am missing something. Granted, in most cases, these efforts are fairly recent, maybe they haven't gotten to video services yet? It strikes me, though that no one speaks of creating better mobile video networks.
If wireless video is the largest, fastest growing consumer service in the world, shouldn't we, as an industry, look at improving it? A week doesn't go by where a study shows that wireless video streaming demand is increasing and that quality of experience is insufficient.
I am afraid that, as an industry, we are confusing means and goals. Creating better generic networks, using more generic hardware, interfaces and protocols to reduce costs of operation and simplify administration is a noble ambition, but it does not in itself guarantee cost reduction and even less new services. What I have seen so far are more complex network topology with layer upon layer of hierarchical abstraction sure to keep specialized vendors busy and rich for the decades to come.

In parallel, we are seeing opposite moves made by the like of Google, Netflix, Apple, or Facebook. When it comes to launching new services, it doesn't feel that these companies are looking first at network architecture, costs savings, service orchestration, interfaces... I am sure that it gets addressed at some point in the process, but it looks like it starts with the customer. What is the value proposition, what is the service, what is the experience, how will it be charged, who will pay...
Comparing these two processes might be unfair, I agree, but if you are a mobile network operator today, shouldn't you focus your energy on what is the largest and fastest growing service on your network, which happens to not be profitable? 
85% of the video traffic is OTT and you get little revenue from that. You are struggling to deliver an acceptable video quality for a service that is growing and uses already the majority of your resources and you have no plan to improve it. 
Why aren't we looking as an industry at creating a better wireless video network? Start from there and look at what could be the best architecture, interfaces, protocols... I bet the result could be different from our current endeavors. 
None of the above mentioned technology have been designed specifically for video. Of course it is generic networking, so video can be part of it, but I doubt it will be able to deliver the best mobile video experience if not baked-in at the design and architectural phase. Then, if these are not the venue for it, what is?
I am not advocating against SDN, NFV, OpenStack, etc... but I would hope that sooner rather than later, wireless and video specific focus are brought to bear in these organisations. It wouldn't feel right if we found out down the line that we created a great networking framework that is great for IT enterprise but not so good for the most important consumer service. Just saying... 

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