As part of Procera’s team on the ground in the UK we’ve observed and been involved with the build-up to the Olympics for the last 12-18 months. Service providers invested in expanding their networks and hence upping their capacity a year ago in preparation for this very moment, and most have now essentially frozen their networks for the next 3 weeks to ensure quality of service for subscribers. Nothing has been left to chance.
As with any live event these days, it’s all about streaming and of course social media. Fittingly, these Olympics have been dubbed the “Social Games,” and we are seeing huge volumes of traffic internationally. In the UK we expect network traffic to peak around events such as the 100 meter finals and of course cycling based on the UK’s first ever Tour de France win by Bradley Wiggins leading into the Olympics and his subsequent gold medal in the Time Trial. Such peaks are bound to impact networks of all kinds as many of these events are taking place during work hours.
For every minute of actual sport that takes place in the Olympics this year, one hour of video will be posted on You Tube. This is a phenomenal amount of data and can only add to the pressure on mobile and fixed networks as hungry users download the vast quantity of video being generated.
Speaking of which Procera is tracking and analyzing traffic during the Games and sharing this data with network operators, media and visitors to its new Analytics in Motion site, that went live last week. Some of the things we’re looking at are use of the BBC iPlayer web app versus YouTube. The BBC has sole rights for the Olympics in the UK and we already know that greatest usage of BBC iPlayer occurs between 7:30 PM to midnight (adults?), versus YouTube which is accessed and watched most heavily in the mornings, at lunch time and between 4-8PM (kids?).
Most fixed operators in the UK still offer all you can eat plans. They don’t cap but they will need to shape traffic to manage congestion. The reality of course is that streaming doesn’t perform with shaping. Football (Soccer for our American readers) has already kicked off and based on heavy buffering, experienced by a friend who is using BT’s ADSL broadband service, obviously enjoyed a huge viewership.
The pressure on networks is continuing unabated. Video now accounts for 50% of data downloads on mobile networks and the HD quality of small handsets such as the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy are making the video experience truly mobile. Demand appears limitless.
Latest insight from Procera’s Analytics in Motion site by colleague Cam Cullen (supported by the PacketLogic Intelligence Center and Report Studio): “Wi-Fi offload has been a hot topic over the past few months, as mobile network operators look to “recapture” revenue lost from Wi-Fi offload traffic. Consumer broadband operators have been feeling the effect of mobile device offload acutely since the introduction of the iPhone, and a look at the device type information used to access the Olympics streaming reveals that iPhone traffic is 3X that of Android phone, even though the total number of Android phones was almost double the number of iPhones. This is most likely due to the higher resolution videos used for iPhones (i.e. not Flash video). The total volume of traffic to the mobile devices is less than 10% of the overall streaming volume, but still significant as a contributor to network usage.”
Throughout EMEA, data volumes per subscriber are doubling every year.
Last week Virgin Media announced it had just sold its one millionth TIVO box in the UK. The cable service offers the ability to pre-record and play back as well as web access. OTT content from the likes of Netflix also causes indigestion for providers, how they react may determine their future. Most are allowing unrestricted access and figuring out how they can work with Netflix and bundle the movie service as a part of their offering.
As I write this I’m waiting in line to catch a flight. Of the 28 people sitting here with me (yes I counted them), only 2 are not on their smart phone. Everyone has a kindle or an iPad and I see not a book in sight. Usage spurred by the newly possible only goes in one direction.
Next time I’ll share a few observations on other countries and regions within EMEA, as well as talk about the move away from pornography in Europe as we move to an opt-in model versus opt-out. Enjoy the Olympics, Citius, Altius, Fortius – Faster, Higher, Stronger for those of us who didn’t do well in Latin at school. Maybe that should be the Procera motto too?