The Mobile Video Tidal Wave Has Hit. The Impact on Cellular Networks.

Video over cellular networks

The growing use of smartphones, mobile broadband, and innovative apps will lead to video accounting for two-thirds of all internet traffic on cellular networks in 2020, according to the latest research from Ovum. This shift in video consumption is creating both new opportunities and challenges for communications service providers.

We know that Communications Service Providers (CSPs) will play a critical role in this evolution, from ensuring their broadband networks support the highest quality video to forming bundling partnerships with leading app providers and launching their own in-house offerings for increased monetization.

 

Challenges for Cellular Networks

Delivering video over cellular networks presents a unique and growing number of challenges. Cellular networks are inherently more limited and variable than fixed broadband, and viewing patterns are becoming more extreme and harder to predict and monetize. Specifically, delivering live video like sports can create massive scalability issues, simply because it is impossible to predict how much traffic there will be.

For example, a mid-afternoon soccer match between England and Wales generated 12 times more traffic on UK operator EE’s network than an England vs. Russia game held a few evenings earlier, as more local fans tuned in via mobile during working hours rather than over Wi-Fi at home.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for operators is that revenue from mobile access services alone will not grow in line with video traffic.

This divergence between traffic and ARPU presents operators with three key challenges to address:

  • Reducing the costs of carrying growing and increasingly hard-to-predict video traffic on their cellular networks,
  • Increasing ARPU by offering mobile tariffs and service bundles designed to harness the popularity of video
  • Improving QoE of video served over their cellular networks, whether their own or third-party.

 

Strategy Adjustments

Regardless of how CSPs approach the overall video-over-cellular opportunity, each needs a strategy for addressing traffic generated by global internet platforms, major TV broadcasters, and other third-parties.

Key to the success of any video-over-cellular strategy will be:

  • Taking a joined-up approach to improving QoE
  • Reducing network costs
  • Driving monetization with innovative pricing and packaging

Recently, Harmonic commissioned Ovum to investigate these issues and has produced a white paper and webinar on “Video-over-cellular Strategies for Mobile Operators.” You can listen to a replay of the event designed to highlight video over cellular strategies for mobile operators, with a focus on how to improve video quality, reduce costs and boost monetization. Click here for the recorded webcast.

–Thierry Fautier, VP Video Strategy at Harmonic

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