The Football Stress Test: Streaming Video, Networks and Telecommunications

Posted: July 16th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights, News | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on The Football Stress Test: Streaming Video, Networks and Telecommunications

Football is inarguably the most popular sport in the world. That’s why the viewership numbers for the recent games in Brazil kept breaking records. The Brazil vs. Chile match, for example, drew 11.5 million viewers just in the UK. According to The Mirror, that’s more than half of the total share of people watching TV at that time. The Germany v. Brazil match attracted 10.77 million viewers. The final match between Germany and Argentina drew well over 26 million viewers in the US.

Given those extremes, it shouldn’t be a surprise that social media channels become frenzied with activity, either. Individual football matches are attracting millions of tweets – the US-Portugal match saw 10 million people engaging in 20 million interactions on Facebook. On Twitter, fans tweeted about eight million times. The opening match, between Brazil and Croatia, garnered 12 million tweets.

But that’s not only what communications service providers (CSPs) are feeling. The Wall Street Journal reports that about 3.5 million viewers tuned into the Germany – US and Portugal – Ghana matches … by using the Internet. A third of those users were in North America, and a quarter watched from mobile devices.

In a way, football games are becoming a great stress test for operators. The matches in Brazil are an interesting case study in how multichannel video streaming and constant social media activity can quickly create a capacity crunch, and might help show CSPs exactly how much their networks can handle and offer insight as to how they can optimise quality of service (QoS) and the quality of experience for end users.

The Football Stress Test

The past six weeks have shown us a glimpse of the future. CSPs know that the data needs of users are increasing dramatically, but not everyone is necessarily watching the same thing from the same device. Research from video advertising company Yume shows that many viewers are planning to watch matches from computers (33 percent), tablets (22 percent) and smartphones (11 percent).

We’ve discussed the growing need to cater to end users’ unique demands, as well as creatively monetise mobile data plans in new and more flexible ways—and the matches in Brazil are one of the strongest cases yet.

What if CSPs had policy and charging tools that allowed them to create and deploy a service plan that allows for unlimited streaming of a football match, based on a user’s country or team of choice and the time of the game? That might be better than letting users reach their data cap or just force them to watch on their TV. Many may be willing to pay a bit more to view the game on a mobile device – they just don’t want to purchase a whole month’s worth of data for it.

The more insight CSPs have into mobile device usage, the more personalised mobile data plans can become. The right solutions allow operators to monitor usage in real time, and when too much traffic is straining the network, they can adjust the access and QoS for specific services and specific users to balance capacity (according to one survey, 67 percent of IT admins are experiencing IT problems and network management issues that can be directly related to employees streaming the matches from their computers).

While it may be too late to deploy these kinds of strategies for the football matches this year, perhaps, during the next big football event, CSPs will be able to offer both consumers and enterprise customers alike a real-time, dynamic plan that meets their needs.

Want to learn how to proactively predict network stressors before they result in a site failure? Download our recent whitepaper, “How Predictions of Critical Alarms Helps CSPs Reduce OPEX, Prevent Revenue Loss and Improve Customer Experience.”


Around The World

Posted: July 13th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Why Are MVNOs So Hot Right Now? Thank the Carriers

The number of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) nearly died out in the past decade due to over-segmentation. Today, however, they are making an astounding recovery by reselling bundled voice and data services at affordable prices. According to GigaOM journalist Kevin Fitchard, “MVNOs are thriving because the big network operators are letting them.”

Historically, the larger operators made it difficult for MVNOs to take advantage of their data networks. They would charge prohibitive rates and force partners to pay for megabytes up front. But the market has recently changed, and operators like AT&T and T-Mobile are selling more airtime, while others are working directly with MVNOs to craft plans in exchange for a percentage of revenue. There are pros and cons to working with each operator, but it’s clear this shift is benefitting MVNOs.

The trend, however, hasn’t been as good for operators who risk losing their competitive advantage. The article points out that they, most likely, either feel forced to cooperate or are trying to reap the wholesale benefits of selling to MVNOs. Ultimately, these types of customised offerings and bouquet of service options benefit customers that now have more choices when it comes to selecting their network operators.

Moving Customers to Tiers

Data capacity and bandwidth constraints continue to be a major concern for communications service providers (CSPs).  According to Cisco, the consumption of over-the-top (OTT) video is predicted to quadruple by 2016, at which point more than 1.2 million minutes worth of video will be travelling through the Internet every second. Additionally, as smartphone quality increases so too does their use for bandwidth-intensive activity, like video streaming. And as users are increasingly becoming data-centric, CSPs must figure out the most effective method for implementing controls on usage.

Some operators, like Comcast, are offering tiered data services to manage the network. While this may be a viable option, it’s also likely that subscribers will push back on this change in plan. However, keeping customers satisfied could simply come down to the variety of tiers a provider is offering like charging based on the type of data used instead of the volume, or paying more for priority data during peak hours. Ultimately, CSPs have the ability to differentiate diverse types of data in ways that they never have before. This means more targeted services and the potential to really stand out in the market.

What options other than tiered pricing do you think can be effective?

Airlines & Telecom Companies Are Best At Facebook Page Customer Service

A recent study revealed telecom and airline industries are tops when it comes to providing customer service on Facebook. T-Mobile and Sony Mobile were the most active brands in responding to customers and prospects, while telecom companies showed their customer-centricity by replying to 60.4% of user posts between March and May of this year.

This is crucial as Conversocial, a social media tracking site, indicated in a recent study that 88% of consumers are less likely to buy from companies that ignore complaints on Facebook. It’s clear customer service should play a key role for CSPs not just on social media channels, but also as a standard practise throughout the business. For instance, CSPs can tap into the customer data they have on hand and determine – at an individual level – who to engage with, the right message to use, and the right time to do so. They can also monitor for issues within the network and proactively reach out to customers– before they head to Facebook to address the issue, the CSP has already responded. Now that’s customer service!