Despite different networks, handset sizes, and quality of content, it appears many mobile operators are still treating all video content the same, a practice that Allot says is harming the user experience.
According to deep packet inspection specialist Allot Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALLT)'s latest mobile trends report, released Wednesday morning, the bandwidth allocation the network automatically does has no correlation to video stream requirements. That means that some video sessions aren't receiving enough bandwidth, which causes stalling and a poor quality of experience (QoE). Other sessions get more than their fair share. All of this makes inefficient use of network resources.
Allot's position at the core of the mobile network lets it collect data on every video transaction, including insights into the handset, browser, operating system, policy, bandwidth allocated, and quality. For this study, it tracked 300,000 video detail records from the millions that took place during one week in December on an operator in a developed country. The operator wasn't using any form of video optimization or management.
As Andrei Elefant, VP of product management and marketing at Allot, explains it, the container of the protocol used to deliver video -- 3GP or MP4 -- might require narrow bandwidth, but the network isn't aware of that stipulation. It doesn't understand the content of the video, he says, so it simply allocates the bandwidth it has.
"The network is allocating bandwidth in an inefficient way that can impact the quality of video and impact other apps using the network resources at the same time," he says.
The issue is only more pronounced on LTE, where Elefant says Allot found that the video transactions just fill to consume the available bandwidth even when unnecessary. Allot found the problem is most pronounced on laptops using dongles because of the higher resolution required for the bigger screens. (See LTE Speeds Up, But Doesn't Improve Mobile Video.)
Why this matters
It's not surprising that a vendor that sells mobile video optimization and analytics technologies also touts a study which suggests such optimization tools are necessary. But, the results are notable because mobile video easily makes up more than 50% of data on the network. It's a big reason many operators moved to tiered data pricing. Operators that don't address video efficiency will feel the pressure on their networks and in the QOE they can offer subscribers.
Those operators that have implemented optimization strategies have taken different approaches so far. Some, such as Verizon Wireless , optimize video quality to the type of device a user has, so a feature phone sees lower quality video than an iPhone. Some optimize all the content on their networks indiscriminately. Others are still deciding how to tackle video, or leaning on small cells and WiFi offload instead. (See Optimizing the Mobile Video Startup Space, Mobile Video Optimization Gets Smart, Verizon Tweaks Mobile Video for Data Caps, and Video Quality Isn't Hot Air for Wind Mobile.)
- Startup Caches Live Video Streams
- NFV, SDN Changing Operators' Policy Picks
- Procera Courts More Policy Partners
- Allot Goes Deep in Big-Data Analytics Game
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading