Converting Backhaul Networks into a Storage and Application Cloud

By TMCnet Special Guest
Michael Ritter
  |  November 05, 2013

Mobile networks are evolving at a phenomenal pace. People want mobile content wherever they are and whenever they need it. To achieve this, the delivery of high quality, rich content over mobile networks will be necessary going forward. The fierce growth in mobile Internet traffic on their networks has impacted mobile operators. This trend was originally driven by the proliferation of smartphones such as the iPhone (News - Alert). Now, iPads and Android tablet devices with their larger screens and more powerful processors are driving even more mobile data consumption.

The degree to which an operator can consistently provide content to the subscriber with high quality has become a primary source of brand differentiation. At the same time, operators are conscious of the cost impact of all this content traffic on their networks. New solutions are required to monetize Internet traffic passing through operator’s networks. Dramatically reducing transport costs while improving user experience and developing new revenue opportunities is of key importance.

Optimized content delivery with caching at the edge of mobile backhaul networks helps operators to handle growing data volumes by making their networks more efficient. Popular content is detected automatically, stored and served from locations as close to the radio access network as possible, which means it doesn't have to travel across the whole backhaul network every time a user wants to have access. Optimizing content delivery at the network edge helps mobile operators in two ways. First, it reduces network costs associated with constantly having to expand the backhaul network and Internet peering connections. Second, it provides better performance and therefore improves subscriber quality of experience.

The download time for a web page on most mobile networks is in the range of 10 seconds today or might take even longer. Subscribers expect more responsive networks with a time-to-first-byte lasting significantly less than a second and higher quality for media streaming. Through the optimization of content delivery and content caching at the edge of the backhaul network to cater to the inevitable surge in video traffic, it is possible to alleviate the load on backhaul networks, deliver subscriber profiled content and a better quality of experience for multimedia content.

Implementing a distributed content caching architecture is essential for any application that demands performance and scalability. It distributes the content across multiple entities in a cluster while still providing a logical view of a single cache. Forming a collaborative cache grid at the edge of the mobile backhaul network has additional benefits. The relatively small population of subscribers associated with a single mobile base station is virtually increased and the hit ratio is therefore dramatically improved. Video content downloaded once from a subscriber connected to a specific base station becomes accessible to all other subscribers connected to base stations associated with the same cache cluster.

Time-to-first-byte can be dramatically reduced when delivering DNS services directly from the network edge. Receiving DNS responses from the local content delivery entity instead of a DNS server in a central location helps to achieve network response times of much less than a second and provides subscribers with a significantly enhanced quality of experience when surfing the Internet and accessing popular web pages.

In addition, the combination of content delivery at the edge of the mobile backhaul network and local DNS services enables exciting new revenue opportunities for operators by offering localized services. The capability to deliver location-dependent services to mobile devices when issuing a DNS resolution request – for example, an advertisement customized to the geographical position –  enables operators to increase monetization of their infrastructure investment and establish new revenue sources from delivering content over the top.

Last but not least, the implementation of an optimized content delivery solution based on distributed caching can reduce the load on the mobile backhaul network significantly. This results in lower operating costs through capacity savings on the backhaul network and increased network scalability to counteract the fierce increase in multimedia traffic to be delivered over mobile networks.

Optimized content delivery with caching at the edge of the backhaul network is an accelerator and enabler at the same time. It is designed to improve user experience and monetization, and ultimately reduces subscriber churn for the mobile operator, gained from improved quality of experience when accessing multimedia services from mobile devices.

Michael Ritter is vice president of technical marketing and analyst relations at ADVA Optical Networking (News - Alert) (www.advaoptical.com).

Edited by Stefania Viscusi