Ericsson has taken another dramatic and potentially disruptive step into the CDN market with the launch of its Unified Delivery Network â€“ unveiled at Mobile World Congress this week. This is a fully-managed CDN service where Ericsson installs equipment in service provider last mile networks and manages CDN operations and business arrangements, giving the network owner a revenue share. Ericsson will be striking multiple service provider deals and aggregating their network resources to build a global CDN that the company believes will compete with existing global CDN providers like Akamai. Content providers sign-up to leverage the CDN capabilities, going via Ericsson to arrange their OTT content delivery requirements.
Ericsson says Unified Delivery Network addresses the requirements of content owners and network owners, both of whom are having to cope with increasing volumes of OTT content alongside growing consumer expectations for the Quality of Experience associated with streaming video. Ericsson reckons its new CDN service is a win-win-win, with content owners getting the reach and QoE they need, network owners monetizing their last miles better and consumers getting great quality entertainment experiences. One of the important differentiators that Ericsson is promising is more transparency; the company says content owners want deeper insights into how their content is being consumed and that they will get this with Unified Delivery Network.
Ericsson already provides a media-optimized CDN solution in the form of its Media Delivery Network (MDN). This provides a single-platform approach to the delivery of managed and unmanaged content across fixed, mobile or hybrid networks, combining intelligent routing, a unified delivery node for caching, web acceleration and content optimization, and management and monitoring.
Last May, Telstra, the Australian telco, became the first operator in the world to deploy Ericsson Media Delivery Network as a fully-managed CDN service, a collaboration that also covers core network functionality. The CDN places content closer to end users, reducing latency and buffering so it loads faster and plays better.
The aim was to develop strategic content delivery and optimization services and so drive value from fixed and wireless networks, while delivering richer customer experiences. Telstra is now one of the launch service provider partners for the Unified Delivery Network, with Mike Wright, Managing Director, Networks at Telstra Group saying, â€œWe look forward to collaborating with Ericsson to provide content providers with optimized services, the highest-quality viewing experiences, and increased market footprint.”
According to Simon Frost, Global Head of Media Marketing and Communications at Ericsson, the Telstra deal has highlighted a wider opportunity for fully-managed CDN services on a global basis. Thus Unified Delivery Network takes this model and expands it across a growing footprint of network operators, the others (named so far) being Hutchison Global Communications, AIS and Vodafone.
As Frost points out, Ericsson now has a tiered CDN offering for the service provider market. MDN is available for a typical â€˜operator CDNâ€™ deployment where Ericsson provides the technology but the telco or cable operator manages the CDN operations and business themselves. MDN can be provided as part of a managed CDN service (like at Telstra) and now operators have another option, to use a fully-managed CDN service that is also part of the aggregated global CDN (Unified Delivery Network) offering.
Frost says the kind of customer that will join the Unified Delivery Network initiative is probably more comfortable with an agreed monetization model where someone else handles the upstream negotiations with content owners and brokers the distribution arrangements. The service provider then takes its revenue share.
A handful of content providers have already partnered with Ericsson to use Unified Delivery Network (UDN). They are Brightcove, DailyMotion, EchoStar, Deluxe, LeTV and QuickPlay, the global provider of cloud services for video. Announcing UDN, Ericsson stated: â€œWith a content peering partnership, the collective [content provider] members have full global reach for content delivery and value-add services.â€
Put in its simplest terms, UDN connects content providers with the last mile reach of different service providers for content delivery. They can optimize and scale services to cope with the demands of video including 4K and UHD, plus gaming and eventually virtual reality. They can also add new services quickly: time-to-market and cost savings are both given as reasons for a content provider to use this new solution.
Frost says the content industry will welcome increased competition in CDN access and that one of the things they will like about UDN is the data insights about what their traffic and their consumers are doing. The global CDN will give customers access to analytics that will have a direct bearing on revenues, like delivery performance and user engagement. Content owners are being promised the insights that will allow them to provide â€œhyper-targetedâ€ content offerings and advertising, leading to highly personalized viewing experiences and greater business opportunities.
Per Borgklint, Senior Vice President and Head of Business Unit Support Solutions at Ericsson, declares: â€œContent providers can take advantage of a much more transparent delivery environment. This transparency will mean consumer experiences can be enhanced and personalized at a much deeper level.â€
Hutchison Telecommunications (Hong Kong) Limited is interconnected with numerous mobile operators on its international platform and Andrew Kwok, President of International and Carrier Business at the company, says: “We are delighted to collaborate with Ericsson to create the UDN for content providers. It enables end users to enjoy an amazing user experience with swift and seamless delivery of video, digital content and web applications.â€