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HD streaming surges to 38% of mobile video traffic – exceeding mobile operator expectations


Analysis of live operator data conducted by Openwave Mobility, a market leader in mobile data traffic management solutions, has found that 38% of all mobile video traffic globally is now High Definition (HD) – far beyond what mobile operators had predicted.

While HD video was only 5.7% four years ago, it is now expected to reach at least 50% of video traffic by the end of 2018, reflecting the popularity of Over The Top (OTT) streaming video services such as YouTube and Netflix on mobile devices. Today over 820 million people across the world watch YouTube and Netflix on mobile devices.

Openwave Mobility’s research is based on analysis of data aggregated from our live deployments in more than 30 mobile operators around the globe from 2013 to 2017. The findings are available from Openwave Mobility’s Mobile Video Index report which looked at the impact of mobile video, Quality of Experience (QoE), and OTT encryption.

The report found that three quarters (75%) of all mobile traffic is now encrypted and this is stifling the mobile operator’s ability to maintain subscriber Quality of Experience (QoE). This is because encryption protocols prevent operators from being able to profile or optimize data using conventional traffic management tools.

The research revealed that UDP-based encryption has also grown faster than predicted. In particular, the onslaught of Google’s QUIC protocol threatens to outpace anything the industry has seen so far. QUIC has grown at an astonishing CAGR of 284% – in just two years since its debut. Based on observations, Openwave Mobility predicts that by November 2018, approximately 90% of all mobile internet traffic will be encrypted.

John Giere, CEO of Openwave Mobility explains: “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. Along with encryption obscuring mobile networks, operators have to grapple with the unstoppable appetite for HD video content from OTT players.”

Giere continues: “As users get accustomed to HD quality at home, they expect the same QoE on mobile. Whether binge watching Stranger Things 2 or ogling over cute pets, subscribers find mobile video more important than voice calls. 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?”

The Mobile Video Index report includes additional analysis from ABI Research. Summarizing, Dimitris Mavrakis, Research Director at ABI, said: “If AR/VR, 360° video, tactile internet applications and new use cases achieve commercial success and come to the mass market in the next few years – all estimates will yet again be blown out of the water.”


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