Can network congestion ever, really, truly be managed?
Network congestion continues to be an ongoing problem for Communication Service Providers (CSPs) all over the world.
The situation was made all too clear recently with the release of Squid Game, Netflix’s dystopian series, which has become the US streaming company’s most popular show launch ever with more than 100m viewers.
According to June Yoon at the Financial Times, this success has also resulted in South Korea’s SK Broadband suing Netflix to cover the cost of the surge in network traffic. Should streaming groups pay a congestion charge for hit shows? SK Broadband, wholly owned by South Korea’s largest mobile carrier SK Telecom, thinks they should.
The company says the traffic that Netflix generates on its network has surged to 1.2 Tbps (terabits per second), which is 24 times the 50 Gbps from 2018. It has had to upgrade its network twice to accommodate the traffic surge caused by the show.
However, for those of us in the industry, we realize that the best remedies to the pains associated with network traffic surges are probably not found within the legal system, nor with what might be needless network upgrades.
Still, what’s becoming clear is that Squid Game represents a larger trend: streaming video services are becoming more mainstream around the globe. Again, as written by Yoon at FT, “Video streaming accounted for 71 percent of all downstream US internet usage in 2020, according to Comcast, and about two-thirds of total global traffic. Combined with the boom in video conferencing usage and data-intensive technologies such as automated driving, that places a burden on the fixed capacity of internet providers.”
The huge popularity of the Squid Game series, and of streaming in general, has revived a long-standing and contentious question plaguing the industry: should streaming providers pay a congestion fee or penalty for blockbuster shows, just as some motorists pay for driving on congested bridges or busy streets in certain city centers?
Netflix customers and other streaming media viewers risk being caught in the crossfire, suffering from lower quality video streams and other problems on congested networks. If the situation is not addressed properly, then CSPs might be more compelled to enforce data limits on users.
So, what can be done? How can this increased network traffic be managed, and congestion be addressed properly in ways that make sense economically?
While the Squid Game surge was an outlier that points to complex issues of responsibility and fair usage that must be addressed, CSPs constantly face the need to deal with smaller, unpredictable surges in traffic that lead to congestion and harm their customers’ QoE. There are innovative ways to deal with this that can help CSPs maintain QoE over their deployed infrastructure and postpone costly network expansion.
Join me as I explore this topic in-depth with Moti Goldstein, AVP of Allot Smart products. We’ll be leading a conversation about congestion management – what it really is and how CSPs can improve their bottom line through innovative tools that help mitigate congestion and get the most out of their deployed infrastructure.
We’ll also discuss how to ensure high Quality of Experience (QoE) for critical services and customers, while deferring costly expansions, through innovative, optimal congestion management.
Also, we’ll explore current, real-life examples to cover subjects, such as:
- The kinds of congestion management that are possible
- How to assure QoE, even when the network is congested
- What top CSPs think about congestion management for 5G
- How effective congestion management can actually increase profitability