We are at a crucial phase in the development of mobile video. Awareness needs to be raised of the issues facing successful sustainable delivery, and there is a great deal of coordination and collaborative development needed from the industry to ensure smooth take-off. Luckily, today the UK saw a major step in the right direction, more of which below.
What makes things so critical? In a nutshell rate of growth vs. acceptable performance. According to YouTube some 6 billion hours of video are watched each month, almost 40% of that on mobiles.
That’s a more than tenfold rise from just 6% in 2011 when volume watched was less than half as high.
But with the huge amounts of bandwidth required and the necessity for network and server architecture that supports high performance playback there’s a real danger of stalling – or should that be buffering? A recent study by Opera Software mobile stated that “video stalling and buffering continues to be a problem for operators and their customers, leading to measurable consumer dissatisfaction and stalling rates that range between 40% and 73% of all videos played”. Such high levels of consumer dissatisfaction will inevitably hit the bottom line for all involved in the mobile video ecosystem, particularly for those that are slow to adapt.
So what can be done? Well, I’m pleased to say that with today’s news of the Mobile Video Alliance (MVA) joining with the DTG we are tangibly helping to progress how to deal with the challenges delivering mobile video presents.
During 2013 Equinix and EE established the MVA as a cross-industry, knowledge-sharing group designed to create the best possible mobile video experience for consumers. As Matt Stagg, Senior Manager of Network Strategy at EE, put it, “The MVA looks to create an end-to-end ecosystem where we can share knowledge and understand each of the technology silos… We don’t need to get anybody to change their technology or their roadmaps, but what we do need to do is understand how each of the separate technologies influence the behaviour in the other areas.”
Today the MVA stepped onto a wider stage as the DTG, the UK’s industry association for digital television, launched it at their annual summit. Ed Vaizey MP, the UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, said, “The Mobile Video Alliance … will dramatically improve the experience of watching video on mobile devices, opening up new opportunities for consumers, broadcasters and content providers.”
We certainly hope so. Equinix is ideally placed to assist in the practical challenges of improving delivery, and we take our responsibility seriously. We are the point at which the content owners, the mobile operators and the distributors meet, and we have good insights into the architecture of each. To make the work of the MVA as practically focused as possible we are also making our Solution Validation Centre available to members to test the efficacy of new configurations, e.g. to test both the performance and security impacts of directly connecting the distributor cache, CDN server and mobile operator node.
There is a major opportunity for content owners and service providers to accelerate performance in this area. Interested in getting involved? You can find out more, or to become a member, here or if you have any questions or contributions to make please don’t hesitate to contact me direct on firstname.lastname@example.org