Sports, gaming, and other live events have the potential to overwhelm network capacity due to the sheer volume of traffic generated when large numbers of viewers or gamers engage. These "peak" events may only occur once a month or even once a year (sports championships, election results, gaming downloads, etc.) with far lower, more consistent, and predictable traffic levels the rest of the time.
To address this concern, operators have the option of increasing unicast capacity in their networks with continued network build-outs and/or router upgrades. This is a valid solution that many operators use and will continue to use. But capacity upgrades can be complex and expensive depending on how the network is designed. More importantly, unicast network capacity planning always falls behind certain peak event traffic expectations. Furthermore, the infrequent nature of peak events limits monetization opportunities that could offset the cost of the unicast build-out.
Would it be interesting to find a way to address the peak capacity problem while minimizing network build-outs and maintaining service quality and reliability? Would it excite you to see operators offloading 97% of the traffic from their networks during live events?
Not only is 97% offload possible, there are operators doing it today using Akamai's Licensed Multicast Solution (LMS). LMS is designed to help operators avoid costly network build-outs by improving efficiency using existing multicast capabilities, especially during high viewing periods or peaks in consumption. Very high offload is provided at the same quality as unicast, with no additional investment in router infrastructure.
Akamai's LMS is licensed software for pay TV and other live services offered by network operators that want a diverse, high-quality mix of services over their broadband networks without overspending on network build-out. The solution works with any existing CDN network/service, including Akamai's delivery suite of products.
LMS uses a technology known as multicast-assisted adaptive bitrate (M-ABR) streaming. M-ABR employs IP multicasting to better manage high-volume streamed traffic generated over a network when many viewers simultaneously watch the same program. What distinguishes M-ABR is the use of adaptive bitrate (ABR) codecs rather than constant bitrate (CBR) used by legacy IPTV systems. While static codecs are fine for networks dedicated to one service, they're unsuitable for delivering live television over networks shared by multiple services and over-the-top devices using different encoding formats. ABR codecs are a proven commodity that work seamlessly with traditional unicast caching techniques to efficiently support DVR operations and to further reduce load on the network.
The combination of multicast delivery efficiency, stability, differentiated QoS, and ABR flexibility creates a best-of-all-worlds scenario delivering high-quality, stable, live, and live linear content over the same shared broadband connection as other content and services. In addition, with Akamai's LMS M-ABR solution, it's possible to switch back and forth between multicast and unicast in real time at the device level without end users' awareness. Read more to learn what's new for all of Akamai's licensed delivery products: