Video traffic hampering mobile operators

Struggling with your mobile connection? Don’t blame the operators, it’s all the fault of Stranger Things and those hilarious You Tube videos.

According to research from Openwave Mobility, HD streaming has risen to 38% of mobile video traffic – way above mobile operators’ expectations.

This represents a staggering rise: just four years ago, HD video accounted for just 5.7% of mobile video traffic, it’s expected to reach 50% by the end of next year, claimed Openwave Mobility. Currently, more than 820 million people across the world watch YouTube and Netflix on mobile devices.

What is causing particular problems for the mobile operators is the level of encryption being used by over-the-top (OTT) video streaming providers, the likes of Netflix and You Tube. Openwave Mobility’s research found that 75% of all mobile traffic is now encrypted, a factor that’s hindering operators’ ability to maintain subscriber quality of experience (QoE). What makes this an issue is that the video providers’ encryption protocols prevent operators from optimizing data using conventional traffic management tools.

Other revenues hit

The growth in encryption is such that Openwave estimates that 90% of all mobile Internet traffic will be encrypted by this time next year. We’ve seen an especially high growth in UDP-based encryption, in particular, the use of Google’s QUIC protocol, usage has risen a whopping 284% in the past year.

Openwave’s research has revealed how video traffic has taken over the airwaves, wiping out revenue from other areas. John Giere, CEO of Openwave Mobility said: “OTTs have launched a land grab. In 3 years OTTs wiped out voice revenues. In 2.5 years they wiped out messaging revenues. Is mobile data next? You bet.”

He said that the problem was that customers had become used to HD quality at home and expected the same quality on their mobile devices. “That’s why QoE is a deal-breaker. For example, research shows that people only tolerate 6 seconds of video buffering before switching off in frustration. Facing an onslaught from OTT encrypted traffic, the challenge for operators is - how can you manage what you can’t see?”