Covid-19 & the new telecom reality: traffic management more important than ever

Communication Service Providers (CSPs) are seeing a dramatically increased load on networks as more people each day work from home. With a growing number of employees and businesses working remotely, voice conferencing and video collaboration are driving up traffic. Adding to demand on the network, countless students are relying on remote learning solutions to keep up with their education.

 

Meanwhile, when people aren’t working, broadcasters and streamers are experiencing a deluge in VOD viewing as country-wide lock-downs across the world come into force, leaving captive audiences at home, streaming video content across multiple screens.

 

The increased pressure on broadband networks

According to Television Business International, streaming has increased as people spend more time at home due to the spread of the virus and as the implementation of measures to contain it begin to be felt. At the same time, differences in viewing preferences mean multiple devices and screens are being used simultaneously in-home to appease viewers

 

In fact, in Europe, the EU asked video providers to reduce quality (and they agreed) in order to make space for other services. Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime, three of the world’s largest online video services, are taking the unprecedented step of reducing picture quality in Europe to ease pressure on broadband networks. YouTube and others are making a commitment to temporarily default all traffic in the EU to standard definition.

 

The focus is now on accessibility and fair use (between different users) on the network, prioritizing critical services and applications over streaming services. The smooth functioning of business-related tools (such as commercial VPNs, internet SaaS services, and more) and education-related services is critical.

 

With all these changes and demands on the network, how can telecoms keep up?

 

Traffic management more important than ever

With all the different types of applications consuming tremendous amounts of bandwidth, concerns about Quality of Experience (QoE) are less urgent. Critical services and fair access are an absolute requirement.

 

However, by using the same tools that helped to deliver QoE before the coronavirus outbreak, telecoms can shape network traffic so that everyone is able to get decent, fair access.

 

Now more than ever, it’s important to quickly and accurately detect degradation in service quality. This will enable CSPs to implement a variety of techniques in order to best manage traffic across the network. These techniques include prioritization of mission-critical applications, limiting traffic of less essential background services, optimizing the RAN scheduler, video optimization, prioritizing different service plans, etc. Ideally, these techniques should be activated quickly, in an automatic way on the network, to resolve the issue.

 

What about “fair use”?

If the CSP prioritizes certain traffic at the expense of other traffic, doesn’t that contradict net neutrality rules meant to guarantee an even playing field for all applications and services?

 

The alternative is dropping random traffic across the board, without differentiation. This means that they are potentially dropping mission-critical traffic, or dropping traffic of one user in favor of another, which is unfair and potentially dangerous.

 

When traffic becomes too congested, it’s important to drop non-urgent traffic. This requires deep packet inspection (DPI); identifying and classifying even encrypted traffic and the ability to enforce policies to ensure that mission-critical services will continue to function across the network, in a fair way, in keeping with regulatory requirements.

 

Fast, inexpensive implementation is critical, especially now

The biggest issue for service providers now is providing enough capacity to meet bandwidth demand. But keeping up with the ever-increasing volume and complexity of data traffic doesn’t have to mean expensive network expansion.

 

How Allot’s solutions can help

With Allot’s QoE Congestion Management solution, you can allocate your network capacity more efficiently, even during times of peak demand, without necessarily needing to invest in costly infrastructure upgrades. Thereafter, when you do need to invest, the solution will help you minimize the expansion. In fact, as detailed in our recent report, cost reduction can be the hidden benefit of managing traffic properly.

 

DPI technology, within the Allot Service Gateway, automatically monitors service quality at specific locations in the network. By monitoring critical indicators in real-time and applying policy-driven congestion control, you can properly manage network traffic at any given moment or network location—whether within a mobile cell, a BRAS interface, DSL interface or a CMTS channel/bonding group. When quality on the network drops, our solution automatically shapes consumption while re-allocating available bandwidth according to service plan policy or other parameters.

 

In the past, we have seen telecom customers, like VOO in Belgium for example, overcome bandwidth-hogging users and other kinds of congestion and continue to deliver reliable, quality service to their customers, without network expansion, helping them to stay connected, informed, productive, and even entertained.

 

What should telecom providers do?

In today’s world of surging corona-driven bandwidth demand (CDBD), automated, policy-based traffic management is more important than ever.

 

With millions of people working, learning, and consuming streaming media from home at an unprecedented rate, CSPs are already straining to keep up with the additional traffic. Allot can help manage this increase in traffic with tools that can:

  • Prioritize critical traffic, such as streaming, education or emergency services,
  • Manage traffic to relieve congestion in critical locations, and
  • Assure fair usage policy to allow maximum network accessibility and quality

 

Contact us to learn more, or to let us know how we might be able to help you and your customers, too.  It’s important that communication across the network continue to function smoothly because we’re all in this together.

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