Streaming Music, Video are Consuming More Bandwidth, Says Flash Networks

By Ashok Bindra June 30, 2011

With mobile Internet traffic surging, high-definition (HD) multimedia streaming and longer browsing sessions are putting significant strain on network resources. And this will only intensify with increased penetration of the mobile Internet.

Based on a study, Herzlia, Israel based Flash Networks, a global provider of intelligent mobile Internet solutions, has released key predictions for mobile Internet traffic. Thus, forecasting future traffic trends.

Flash Networks' study reveals that worldwide, streaming music and video are consuming more and more bandwidth when compared with traditional browsing. In North America, video as a percent of mobile traffic is fast approaching 50 percent, while in Asia, video is the largest contributor to network traffic, consuming 56 percent of the bandwidth, according to Flash Networks’ study.

One contributing factor is the proliferation of high definition video; the same video content on YouTube today consumes three times the megabytes compared with just a year ago. It is not surprising, therefore, that when video viewing was at its peak and no optimization was applied, network interrupts occurred for up to 20 percent of browsing attempts, demonstrating how excessive video traffic impacts user quality of experience, says Flash Networks.

In addition to richer and larger data files that need to be moved through the network, session length is also increasing in both the US and Asia, explains Flash Networks. In North America, close to 5 percent of mobile sessions involve users viewing over 30 minutes of streaming video at a time. In Asia, this number is slightly lower but the positive trend is consistent.

The study also revealed that unlike Asia Pacific where there are peak traffic periods during commuting hours and lunch time, in North America traffic builds gradually throughout the day beginning at 7:00 AM, with peak hours from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM. This means that in North America network optimization may be required consistently throughout the day and not just before or after work hours.

According to Flash Networks, this information was provided by Harmony Analytics, installed on operator networks worldwide for better network planning and more effective network optimization. Sophisticated network optimization solutions combined with Analytics enable operators to provide a consistently superior user experience, even during peak traffic periods.

“That video is dominating traffic on mobile networks isn’t surprising,” noted Peter Jarich, service director with Current Analysis, in a statement. He added, “Beyond the big trends, however, what’s important is the ability to understand and get insight into specific traffic mixes. Unless operators have a deep understanding of the traffic running across their networks, there’s no way they can hope to effectively monetize or optimize the user experience – making the most of their network assets.”

Similarly, commented Merav Bahat, vice president of marketing and business development at Flash Networks, “Today mobile operators are being judged based on the speed of their browsing while at the same time richer high-definition content and longer browsing sessions are increasing the likelihood of degrading the user experience.” “Operators can create a competitive differentiator by optimizing data using sophisticated techniques such as busy hour management, while ensuring a superior user experience with more cost-efficient capacity utilization,” said Bahat.


Ashok Bindra is a veteran writer and editor with more than 25 years of editorial experience covering RF/wireless technologies, semiconductors and power electronics. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

TechZone360 Contributor

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