By Frank Childs, director of product marketing, network operators, Akamai Technologies
Network operators have to invest in infrastructure to ensure that their networks are capable of carrying the forecasted growth in traffic and satisfying consumer demand for content.
However, unless they find a way to offset infrastructure spending and develop monetisation strategies to benefit from content, operators will struggle to make the figures stack up as the connected devices and online media markets continues to grow.
In response to this challenge, operators are increasingly turning to content delivery network (CDN) technology to offer new and compelling content services, provide a superior Quality of Experience (QoE) for subscribers and reduce network infrastructure costs.
When talking to operators about CDN technology, however, it is immediately clear that they have a very different set of problems to those of content providers.
Revenues are not keeping pace with the costs associated with the traffic growth and, while many do offer fully managed video services, they simply cannot license and manage enough of the endless supply of content to satisfy consumer demand.
As consumers continue to turn to OTT video for a larger proportion of their entertainment, content providers also have challenges.
They need to deliver a high quality user experience while scaling the service to reach millions of users, authenticate users, secure the content, and provide access anywhere, at anytime, on any device.
These challenges present a unique opportunity for cooperation between content owners and network operators to satisfy user demand and CDN technologies can play an important role.
One important piece of the jigsaw in helping operators manage the delivery of content to network subscribers is missing – the concept of federation, which is a framework of agreements between operators for handling roaming traffic as it moves from one network to another.
Although efforts have been made, no overall consensus has been reached on federation, which is a serious limitation to an operator CDN.
Without some form of federation, a content owner looking to cooperate with network operators will have to manage agreements with dozens of individual corporations.
The concept of utilising a global CDN to provide instant federation allows the operator to tap into an established footprint of agreements between providers, meaning they can immediately deliver content to any user, on their network and off it, without having to directly negotiate dozens of complex agreements.
Operators can give their own customers access to these instantly federated networks, providing a good avenue for network monetisation and a compelling global delivery infrastructure to content owners.
It is clear there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to CDN technology.
Some operators maintain a “do-it-yourself” mentality, and want to manage and control their own CDN, choosing a licensed technology model where they retain full control and use in-house expertise to manage the network on their own.
Others opt for a fully managed approach, where a provider fully deploys a turnkey CDN into the network and then allows the CDN to manage it for them.
CDN technology has the potential to shake up the market by giving operators the means to monetise their networks and giving them the freedom and flexibility to decide how this is done.
It puts operators in the driver’s seat of the OTT content revolution and, by presenting new ways of monetising networks, means that coping with the 24 billion connected devices expected by 2020 is no longer such a daunting task.