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Mobile Video Optimization Gets Smart

Danny Dicks, Analyst, Heavy Reading 4G/LTE Insider
11/14/2013
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Vendors of various mobile video optimization (MVO) technology solutions -- which help mobile operators deal effectively with the flood of "over-the-top" (OTT) video traffic demanded by their subscribers -- are recognizing the merit in alternative approaches. These vendors appear to be converging on a middle ground that encompasses a broad and common set of techniques, delivered by solutions that are designed and architected to reduce capex and that are integrated closely with a common set of other network functions such as policy.

In several cases, this convergence means a change to previous approaches or statements. For instance, vendors whose successful approaches to MVO were based on offline transcoding and caching technology innovation are now adding online transcoding to their solutions. The fall in the price of computing hardware has meant that vendors are adding to their solutions techniques that they would have dismissed in the past as too expensive, while continuing to argue that there is value in all techniques if operators want to optimize the quality of the user experience and not just compress videos in size.

Several vendors espousing appliance-based MVO solution architectures also admit that network functions virtualization (NFV) will mean heavy-duty optimization processing will move into the virtualized datacenters (a carrier cloud). At the same time, fiercely cloud-centric vendors offer split architectures to enable MVO "intelligence" to be added using an in-line box.

In fact, all MVO solutions are adding the ability to apply conditional or selective initiation of optimization, and all vendors can have access to the same encoding libraries. So are all vendors' offers the same? No. There are still major differences between solutions in terms of the way that intelligence is applied to the optimization process and what metrics to take into account when making the decision whether to optimize a video flow or not, and exactly which optimization methods to deploy. There are also competing views about the best way to monetize OTT video, and whether an ecosystem approach or an integrated end-to-end solution is best.

The differences are part technical, part commercial, but also part philosophical -- and they stem from vendors' understandable desire to develop the right solution for their existing and potential operator customers, whether these are Tier 1 operators in North America struggling to get the best return on their 4G network investments, or smaller operators in other regions that still have big problems with RAN capacity.

The newest Heavy Reading 4G/LTE Insider, "Mobile Video Optimization: The Second Wave," looks at the techniques available to reduce the network impact of OTT mobile video while meeting customers' increasing expectations for mobile video quality. It examines how an "optimize everything" philosophy is giving way to an intelligent, targeted approach based on measurements of congestion and of user QoE. It considers the evolution of MVO from a stand-alone process to one more closely integrated with other network functions, and the impact that falling compute resource costs are having on MVO techniques and the ways that solutions are deployed. Finally it compares the offerings of leading MVO solution vendors and profiles those vendors.

— Danny Dicks, Analyst, Heavy Reading 4G/LTE Insider


This report,"Mobile Video Optimization: The Second Wave," is available as part of an annual subscription (6 issues per year) to Heavy Reading 4G/LTE Insider, priced at $1,595. Individual reports are available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/4glte.

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