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Nova casts light on streaming network issues as energy demands soar

So-called industry-first solution brings new revenue opportunities, reduces churn and differentiates offer for video providers as they struggle to cope with energy surge in providing services

With video accounting for two-thirds of current fixed network traffic and set to rise to over 90% in 5G networks by 2024, video streaming issues have become the top source of network-related customer churn. Tech companies EXFO and InterDigital are proposing solutions for what could be a multimillion-dollar problem for operators.

Test, monitoring and analytics expert EXFO has announced what it calls an industry-first solution allowing service providers to automatically detect and diagnose the root cause of video streaming problems as soon as they begin, and identify their origin, whether inside or outside their networks and whether this is entertainment or, increasingly, video-conferencing services such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

InterDigital, in a study with Futuresource, has identified what it calls a “staggering” disparity between the energy demands of emerging consumer devices and immersive video experiences and has spotlighted the need for more environmentally sustainable choices across the video entertainment industry.

EXFO’s Nova Active over-the-top (OTT) video monitoring technology aims to address a headache for providers whose consumers blame their video quality of experience (QoE) issues primarily on their offers, even though about half of all video quality issues originate outside their networks and their control.

As a result, service providers are reporting high volumes of churn and are unable to effectively monetise OTT video services and take advantage of QoE as an essential differentiator. In turn, revenue losses and higher customer acquisition costs increase as the provider’s reputation suffers – even if the issues stem from a customer device, a poor home Wi-Fi network or a content provider’s datacentre issue.

The Nova Active OTT video monitoring system is designed to enable mobile network operators, internet service providers and content delivery providers to detect, segment, classify and diagnose the root cause of video-streaming problems as soon as they begin. For the first time, claims EXFO, service providers will be able to pinpoint whether problems such as freezing, buffering or lagging come from their network, the video platform, the user’s device, or a video provider such as YouTube or Netflix.

Given that legacy video-monitoring systems are generally expensive, compute-intensive and tailored to content delivery applications, EXFO said the industry needs real-time video monitoring that helps service providers overcome network issues, where most issues originate

“As we all increasingly rely on video streaming for working, learning and socialising, the quality of over-the-top video services has never been more important,” said Abdelkrim Benamar, EXFO’s vice-president of service assurance, systems and services. “But until now, service providers did not have access to technology allowing them to quickly identify and solve video-streaming problems, whether on mobile devices, at work or at home.

“EXFO’s unique solution will give service providers the ability to quickly pinpoint the source of these problems, resolve video quality issues for users and capture the growing opportunity that video represents.”

Nova Active OTT video monitoring is an integral part of the Nova Active monitoring system and the Nova Adaptive Service Assurance platform. Using a patent-pending approach that measures video-streaming experience without compromising user privacy, EXFO says operators can precisely identify, classify and localise issues as they occur. The technology avoids big data analytics and decryption delays, allowing operations teams to prioritise and take immediate action.

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But it’s not just network congestion issues that are tasking those in charge of content providers’ datacentres issues. In their report The sustainable future of video entertainment, InterDigital and Futuresource analysed the energy demands of the video entertainment industry, from the production, delivery and consumption of video experiences, noting emerging technology to mitigate the environmental impact across the video value chain.

Their findings suggest that sustainability must be integrated into all aspects of the ecosystem, from manufacturing to supply chain and logistics, to be most effective.

The research noted that streaming video datacentres consumed 2,460 gigawatt hours of energy in 2019. Such facilities are integral to housing content for the video entertainment industry, but also leave a high carbon footprint.

They were found to be responsible for about 3% of global electricity use and the study said the massive impact of datacentres on global energy reserves highlights the need for a green transformation of the ICT sector. By 2022, video viewing is likely to account for 82% of all internet traffic, with overall internet traffic accounting for more than 1% of global emissions.

“This has been the year of video, as the world’s circumstances have aligned with a ubiquity of consumer devices and more time spent looking at our screens,” said InterDigital CTO Henry Tirri. “As our dependence on these devices and experiences grows, so too will our impact on the environment become more consequential.

“The data in this report highlights the importance of continued technical progress in streaming, networking, compression and device technology, but also the need for individuals to make responsible choices.”

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