On this week’s Carrier Wrap, we dig into the growing push by wireless carriers into streaming video services
Wireless carriers have had a tough relationship with streaming video services as such offerings are bandwidth intensive and tend to stretch cellular network resources. For the most part, wireless carriers have steered consumers towards Wi-Fi connections when it comes to watching streaming video content through software platforms and pricing models.
Late last year T-Mobile US through a spanner in those plans as it launched its Binge On service that allows select customers to stream video content over their cellular connection without dipping into their allotted data buckets. To accomplish this feat, T-Mobile US relies on data compression technology that limits the video quality to 480p resolution, or what it terms DVD-like quality.
As much of this streaming video is watched on smartphone screens, consumers for the most part are expected to be able to handle the degraded picture quality, especially as it comes at an attractive price point. However, the move has drawn criticism from some video service providers like YouTube and questions from regulators, resulting in T-Mobile US CEO John Legere taking to the carrier’s blog in order to argue T-Mobile US’ angle.
So far, T-Mobile US’ rivals have not followed the carrier into the free video streaming realm, though some are beginning to dip their toes in the waters.
Verizon Wireless recently launched its Go90 platform, which the carrier continues to bolster with new content deals.
During this week’s AT&T Developer Summit & Hackathon, Tom Keathley, SVP for wireless network architecture and design for AT&T Technology and Operations, provided insight into how the telecom giant is tackling the growing demand for streaming video content.
Without getting into specifics – citing concerns from AT&T lawyers – Keathley noted video generated between 40% and 50% of data traffic on the carrier’s mobile network, and more than 50% of traffic on its wired network. Those numbers are only expected to increase, with Keathley citing the often-cited Cisco Systems’ forecast of video traffic set to generate 70% of mobile data traffic by 2018.
In tackling the video bear, Keathley named a number of options, including the limiting of video stream quality to match a device screen’s capabilities. Keathley said that option would see video streaming quality limited to 480p resolution for smartphones, which he noted most consumers would be hard pressed to distinguish from higher resolutions.
On this week’s Carrier Wrap, we spoke with Mark Donnigan, VP of sales and strategy at media optimization provider Beamr, to discuss how mobile carriers are tackling the difficult challenge of supporting streaming video content over their cellular networks.
Thanks for watching this week’s Carrier Wrap and please make sure to check out a new episode of Carrier Wrap next week.
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