By Kiran Pande. At last year’s AfricaCom, a panel of African operators admitted that “OTT was here to stay”, though to a large degree, the comments were in the context of messaging type apps such as Facebook and WhatsApp used on mobile devices. In many other parts of the world, “OTT” (over-the-top) was starting to mean streaming video delivered directly from content publishers over the Internet. “Over the Internet” involving the telco for ‘last mile’ delivery – of course - whether or not the telco is getting a cut of any revenue associated with the content.
A year later, as we all get ready for AfricaCom 2015, “OTT” in Africa is indeed also starting to mean streaming video – including livestreaming. And operators are starting to feel the same bandwidth squeeze felt in other parts of the world, as the flood of Internet content swamps their networks. And, given the high predominance of mobile in Africa – and particular challenges associated with mobile video – African operators have their work cut out for them trying to get all that content to their subscribers at the expected quality…and do that efficiently.
How can network operators address this challenge? Experience has shown that simply by boosting broadband network capacity and speeds is not enough. Internet access speeds are clearly important, but it’s the quality and performance of the ‘apps’ (including content!) that matter most to consumers. The shorter the distance OTT content needs to travel, the better consumer experiences will be. And of course, consumer experience is a huge retention factor, which is so important in today’s competitive environment.
Adding local content delivery capabilities to broadband access networks puts popular Internet-based information and entertainment – including live streaming video - on a faster lane to consumers. Local content delivery significantly improves QoE (Quality of Experience) and performance for end-users by storing popular OTT content closer to consumers at the edge of operator networks, thus shortening latency and improving quality and performance. It also relieves network congestion, conserves bandwidth and lowers operating and capital expenses for any type of operator - mobile or fixed.
From an operating standpoint, local content delivery must integrate easily with both fixed and mobile networks, and be available as a virtualized solution for maximum efficiency.
Augmenting broadband access networks with local content delivery helps carriers optimize their bandwidth use and decongest the last-mile squeeze, so that streaming video and other OTT content can be delivered smoothly.
Interested in learning more, including how we are helping our 80+ customers in Africa meet similar challenges? Visit us on Stand A10 at AfricaCom. www.peerapp.com @PeerApp