With the main driving force behind 4K Ultra HD purported to be mobile, it won’t be long until carriers have to contend with devices capable of supporting resolutions that are four times current resolutions.
Not that long ago, mobile phones were mainly associated with making calls and sending text messages. Now most of us carry small and powerful mini computers in our pockets (that can also make the occasional phone call when needed). As screen sue increases, and resolution improves, watching video through mobile devices on the go has grown rapidly in popularity. LTE has proved not to be the saviour in this situation. Instead it has spurred subscribers’ insatiable desires for bandwidth-greedy HD video content. Faster data might mean faster content, but also drives higher demand.
Mobile users have come to expect reliable video and mobile access on their devices wherever they are 24/7. And social networking trends have meant that it’s not easy to escape from video. Facebook now automatically plays video clips posted on your timeline, and apps like Instagram and SnapChat all have video functionality. Once you notice the sheer volume of video content around us, it’s really no surprise today that over 50% of mobile data traffic is made up of video. Like it or not, it’s expected to reach 84% by 2018. We’ve become a generation of YouTube and Vine “snackers” - expecting crystal clear, buffer-free, playback on our mobiles and tablets –just like the seamless transmissions we expect from our home televisions. And it’s mobile operators that have to manage this heightened expectation alongside the mobile video explosion. . Which is why, when it comes to mobile video data, operators need to get selective. How can mobile operators achieve this and avoid network-choke?
The multiple technique approach
Mobile video optimization can solve a lot of mobile operator headaches, and it no longer has to be the “one size fits all” solution that it once was. Intelligent optimisation uses a range of network and device factors in order to tailor video optimisation to each user in real-time.
Put simply, video optimisation needs to be intelligent. It needs to be content-aware and it needs to be format aware – to take into account if the video is HD. If so, it requires more optimisation in order to maintain the end users quality of experience (QoE) expectation and faster playback. It also needs to be device-aware, as screen size and resolution can vary greatly from one device to another – this ensures that each subscriber has optimal playback quality. Finally, it needs to be network-aware, capable of selectively optimising the network in areas of congestion.
By using multiple optimisation techniques such as translating and transcoding and recoding the video in real-time, not just simply through compression - the best possible user QoE can be provided to subscribers. Through these context-aware capabilities, operators can achieve a reduction in core network traffic and simultaneously improve user experience.
But it’s not just greater network speeds and improved QoE that video optimisation can deliver. Mobile operators can also achieve cost savings by deploying intelligent, context-aware video optimisation solutions. By doing so, operators achieve the most efficient use of RAN and network resources in order to reduce CAPEX and OPEX and the lowest TCO possible.
The rise of HD
Clearly mobile video is here to stay. Consumption and subscriber demand for it is only going to increase. Some operators tend to shy away from video optimisation as a solution as it is wrongly assumed that it degrades the quality of video. When mobile video optimisation was first utilised by operators, they adopted a one size fits all blanket approach to achieve cost savings at any cost. This resulted in degradation of the quality of the video they delivered. However, through utilising a more sophisticated and contextually selective approach to mobile and HD video, QoE can be vastly improved. With this in mind, it’s now time for operators to take steps towards addressing the HD video tsunami that is heading their way.
About the Author
Indranil Chatterjee, VP Product Management, Marketing & Strategy
Indranil Chatterjee has over 15 years of experience in product management, marketing, strategy and software development in the mobile communications and IT industries. Prior to joining Openwave Mobility, Indranil was director of product management at Syniverse Technologies, responsible for new product development for wireless applications and mobile analytics. Before joining Syniverse, he served as Director of Wireless Solutions for Alcatel-Lucent. Indranil is a member of the Board of Governors of 4G Americas. He holds a bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – BHU, India, and an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.