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Summary:

Time for mobile operators to hit the panic button — mobile video use is increasing across their networks and users are choosing to watch higher resolution clips when they sit down for a video-watching session. New data from Bytemobile sheds some light on how video swamps networks.

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Time for mobile operators to hit the panic button — mobile video use is increasing across their networks and users are choosing to watch higher resolution clips when they sit down for a video-watching session. According to data released Monday night from Bytemobile, a company that provides gear that helps mobile operators optimize their networks, carriers are seeing users spend more time watching video on larger-screened devices and thus are moving up to higher resolution content.

I’m not exactly sure who these people are who can cajole higher resolution content (like 480p) downloads from their mobile operator, but apparently they are out there and they are continuing to overload networks with their requests for crisper video. However, operators have a few tools to help with the data demand, such as caps and optimization. Data caps mean that at some point video-viewing users will run up against a 5GB limit on their plans and start facing overage fees, while optimization makes the load of multiple users downloading video easier to bear for operators and their customers.

Bytemobile found that across geographies, subscribers on un-optimized networks view approximately 60 seconds of each video clip, while subscribers on optimized networks watch 90 seconds. The assumption is that they view the video clip longer because the quality is better.

Still, optimization only helps so much. The survey discovered that on the worst performing network shown, 40 percent of videos would stall within an hour on an unoptimized network, while optimizing the network brought that stat down to 25 percent. Some additional crazy stats from Bytemobile, whose customers include AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Zain, Telefónica, TeliaSonera, and Vodafone:

  • On average, mobile video subscribers watch 10 videos sequentially.
  • During off-peak network hours, an individual subscriber will consume twice as much video content in a single session than they would during peak hours.
  • On average, mobile video subscribers watch 60-90 seconds of each video they request.
  • On an average day, 17 percent of total laptop subscribers consume video content, compared to 11 percent of total iPhone subscribers and 7 percent of total Android subscribers. Less than one percent of feature phone subscribers attempt to consume video content.
  • Depending on network conditions and time of day, mobile videos stall between 5 percent and 40 percent of the time.

Here’s a bonus chart for those who get excited by the Android and iOs divide:

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  1. A solution could be optimizing encoding. Here you find a blog post that show how it is possible to cut bandwidth consumption in two optimizing properly H.264 encoding:

    http://sonnati.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/bandwidth-is-running-out-lets-save-the-bandwidth/

  2. I am not sure optimizing videos for all users (irrespective of quota violations) is the right answer. You don’t want to optimize videos for users who are bandwidth hogs and you want to do it only when a sector is congested. Verizon Wireless has the right solution. They turn on optimization only when a sector is congested and they target bandwidth hogs (based on activity the prior X months).

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