Operator CDNs: A Framework for OTT Video Delivery

Traditionally, cable and telecom operators have only been able to collect a small portion of the revenue made by OTT video delivery while third-party content delivery network (CDN) providers take the lion’s share. But that business model is beginning to evolve as some network service providers are deploying operator-based CDNs that promise a greater share of the revenue.

Last week two major French content operators — Orange and SFR — announced plans to launch operator-based CDNs within their existing infrastructure. In doing so, they will be able to provide their customers with a superior Quality of Service (QoS), increase their potential revenue, and help accelerate the operator CDN approach to OTT video delivery. This is an exciting step for content operators who have long desired to take more control over the OTT video delivery process, yet there is still work to be done. The industry needs a successful framework for operator CDNs.

At Broadpeak, we believe the best method for deploying an operator CDN is one that addresses several key parameters. First, the operator CDN has to be cost-effective and scalable. In the past, cable and telecom operators have tried deploying operator CDNs but were challenged to compete with the low prices enabled by global CDN providers who were operating under a much more massive economy of scale. For example, major CDN provider Akamai deployed more than 107,000 CDN servers. This would be a huge investment for any size operator, even a Tier 1 provider. By leveraging the home network, we believe cable and telecom operators have a significant advantage in the CDN game. Every home broadband gateway or STB is essentially a mini datacenter, or nano datacenter, capable of hosting CDN functions. Using nanoCDN technology, cable and telecom operators can bypass CDN service providers and benefit from the economies of scale made by the millions nanoCDN servers they have deployed.

Additionally, operator CDN solutions must allow total control over the network infrastructure. Operators can deliver the best video and audio quality to viewers if they are able to monitor the end-to-end delivery process, from the content provider straight to the viewer. A successful operator CDN deployment must therefore provide complete analytics.

Finally, while an operator CDN may be the ideal choice for delivering local content based on its ability to understand specific criteria such as location, service, and schedule, an operator’s network is generally limited by its geographical footprint. Therefore, the mono-provider approach can put content operators that need to support multiple geographical areas at a disadvantage.

This problem will need to be addressed with the appropriate CDN selection tools.

If research is any indication, OTT video consumption is expected to continue its rapid growth. Approximately 49 percent of video consumers are viewing OTT video through a broadband connection on their television sets in addition to the content they traditionally watch via cable or satellite, according to a recent survey by Accenture. To support the consumer demand for OTT video services, content providers need a global solution that is cost-effective and scalable, offers total control over the operator infrastructure, and can support other providers in cases where the operator needs to deliver content to other geographical locations. Broadpeak’s operatorCDN solution helps both operators and content providers achieve this common goal, and we believe it will play a major role in revolutionizing OTT content delivery.