Frankly, video will crush network operators unless they evolve.
That’s part of the findings from a recent paper by Bell Labs (News - Alert), the research arm of Alcatel-Lucent, “Video Shakes Up The IP Edge.” Internet video consumption is expected to grow 12 times over by 2020, from 90 exabytes to 1.1 zettabyes, according to Bell Labs. Much of this will come from video-on-demand (VoD), which is expected to have a cumulative annual growth rate of 28 percent and reach 244 exabytes by 2020.
The total time spent watching video will grow from 4.8 hours to seven hours per user per day, noted the paper. “Much of this contribution will come from the latest generation of consumers, whose propensity for multi-tasking will result in seven hours worth of video being consumed in as little as five hours,” it noted.
Consumers are expecting more from their video experience, prompted by devices such as smartphones and tablets. Increasingly, according to Bell Labs, consumers are expecting the ability to consume video of any type on whatever device they want, whenever they want, wherever they are located. They also are growing to expect the ability to interact with video via social media sidebars and tailor their service plans according to their needs, no longer content with one-size-fits-all.
Particularly hard hit by the increase in video usage will be the IP edge, which Bell Labs predicts will need to handle 2.5 times as much network traffic as subscriber links.
This behavior is explained by the shift from multicast to unicast streaming as subscribers opt for VoD services rather than linear TV. Whereas multicast delivery techniques leverage a single video server stream to reach hundreds of homes, noted the paper, unicast delivery techniques require a separate stream for each user even when the same content is being consumed.
For network providers, the escape from the unicast bind is fourfold.
- Edge routers need to be upgraded to handle more traffic and energize the IP edge. Legacy broadband network gateway and broadband remote access servers need to be upgraded to the latest enhanced broadband network gateways, such as the Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) 7750 service router, which delivers terabit speeds.
- Network operators must control and monetize over-the-top video traffic while delivering on subscriber demands for a more personalized experience so they can manage unicasts more efficiently.
- Operators can cut down on the demands of unicast video by leveraging distributed caches of the most viewed content that increase service quality and reliability and enable video transport at the lowest cost per bit.
- Network operators must employ CDN software that enables optimal use of the distributed caches and a host of new video monetization opportunities as users move from linear TV to interactive, personalized VoD.
The challenge faced by network operators when it comes to video is quite real. By energizing the edge, however, providers can make it look easy.
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Edited by Peter Bernstein