The Blind Man and the Shark: Encrypted Traffic on Mobile Networks

Image courtesy: hermanusbackpackersYou’re swimming in the ocean.

As you’re swimming, you lose your sight.

Sightless, you’re unaware that a man-eating shark is swimming towards you, teeth visible.

Such is the situation that mobile operators find themselves in today, with encryption rendering invisible or opaque as much as two-thirds of the data traffic on their networks. Operators are sufficiently blind to this traffic—the majority of which is video—that approaches they have employed or considered employing to better manage their networks and subscriber experience have become ineffective.

The shark? It’s adaptive bitrate (ABR) video traffic. ABR traffic has quietly grown to approach and even exceed the volume of progressive download (PD) video traffic—both encrypted and unencrypted—on mobile networks across the globe.

Why the threatening metaphor? Because ABR, despite its advantages over PD, is a data waster. Empirical data show that ABR-delivered video content consists of as much as 80% wasted data—data that’s downloaded but never consumed. That’s data that could have been used by other subscribers to yield a better video experience.

No entity but the operator can address the challenge to efficiency and subscriber experience posed by encrypted traffic and ABR video. To do so, operators must first, in the words of SunTzu, know their enemies.

Join us at the Broadband World Forum at 12:20 on Thursday, October 22 for, ‘The Blind Man and the Shark: Encrypted Traffic on Mobile Networks’ and learn:

  • How much encrypted traffic is traversing mobile networks around the world
  • What sites and content types comprise it
  • How ABR protocols waste data
  • The role of the device OS in determining video protocol
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