Telecom Argentina’s Content Delivery Network

Monday, May 21, 2012

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While it is often complicated for networks or providers to attract content providers to a CDN platform, Telecom Argentina has been very successful in doing so. The operator CDN supports more than 100,000 simultaneous streams at over 8Gb/s and all of the current streaming formats, enabling Telecom Argentina to easily attract new customers.

Increased consumer demand for high-quality video on a growing number of viewing devices has network operators scrambling to manage increasingly higher volumes of content on their networks. Broadpeak's Nivedita Nouvel examines a groundbreaking installation at Telecom Argentina

Much of the video content is being consumed over the top (OTT), meaning that in addition to determining a cost-effective way to manage the growing amount of video on its servers, network operators often have little control over the quality of the video. This thirst for high-quality, online video on multiple platforms shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, according to a recent study by SFR, OTT video will represent 70 percent of Internet traffic in 2015.
As network operators’ video traffic increases, so do their infrastructure costs. Consequently, they use traffic shaping to delay heavy investments, decreasing the quality of video consumers view OTT. Operators must find a solution to reduce costs and deliver the highest quality video to consumers.
This was the exact situation Telecom Argentina faced. The leading telecommunications provider, which offers local phone lines, long distance fixed voice, mobile, data, and Internet services, as well as ICT solutions, information centers, transportation, video, and multimedia content delivery to users around the entire country of Argentina, wanted more control over the quality of its content as well as way to increase revenue. The solution involved a new concept — deploying an operator content delivery network (CDN) based on Broadpeak technology. 
In a traditional content delivery scheme, content providers pay expensive fees to a third-party CDN, with no guarantee about the quality of service for consumers, and network service providers only receive a small cut of the revenue from the third-party CDN. However, an operator CDN cuts out the middle man – the third-party CDN – and allows an operator or network service provider to deploy its own CDN. Telecom Argentina’s successful operator CDN deployment enables the telecommunications group to eliminate costly, ongoing fees from third-party CDNs while earning additional revenues by directly leasing space on the CDN or offering resellers the opportunity to lease and manage the space.

The Heart of a CDN – The Control System
To set up the operator CDN, Telecom Argentina first installed Broadpeak’s BkM100 Mediator central control system. The central control system is like a portal that manages the available bandwidth and works with integrated servers to output video content, allowing an operator to choose which bandwidth to resell and how content is distributed to different points of presence (PoPs). An operator CDN platform provides three different access levels: a reseller, a content provider (such as a TV channel), or a live TV channel operator. Telecom Argentina can provide administration rights to one or more resellers and allow resellers to define policies relative to content, such as the number of channels and which video on demand (VOD) catalogs to deploy. Each player is then invoiced based on individual contribution.

The operator CDN’s control system provides statistics and quotas based on each access level that help the network owner determine the available amount of bandwidth. Generally, three types of quotas are provided: the broadband used (Mbps), the number of simultaneous sessions, and the content volume per time unit. In addition, the control system provides reports based on statistics, such as:

  • Bandwidth usage
  • Viewing sessions
  • Content consumption
  • Delivery failures
  • Overall demand

In today’s digital age, piracy is obviously a concern, and an operator CDN also provides an extra level of protection for video content. Through the administrative portal, the operator can give each content provider a dedicated server space or quarantine certain content to create an even higher level of security and quality.

Technical Troubleshooting
Operator CDNs have a secure, multi-layered PoP topology that monitors and updates each server’s status, including the location, availability, and status of each video streamer. If a PoP breaks down, another PoP located in another region or from another operator can be used. Telecom Argentina offers it services to users around the country, with PoPs located in the cities of Buenos Aires, Rosario, and Cordoba. The BkM100 Mediator helps the company define how content is distributed to these different points of presence. 
Working with the CDN manager, BkS200 and BkS300 streaming servers deliver content via managed or open Internet networks to a variety of platforms, including set-top boxes, PCs, connected TVs, Blu-ray players, and tablets. The BkS200 streams content in Adobe Flash and SHOUTcast/ICEcast formats for web radio streaming, while the BkS300 streams video content in Microsoft Windows Media and Silverlight Smooth Streaming formats. The CDN’s servers address all types of networks with both live and on-demand applications in all of the most popular streaming formats, enabling content providers to reach their respective audiences over multiple screens, future-proofing the deployment to account for the growing number of OTT rollouts worldwide.

The CDN manager optimizes content storage according to the region where it is most viewed. Popular content is automatically pushed to the edge of servers while long-tail content remains on the larger central library. This automated process reduces the need for storage at the edge, therefore, decreasing the total cost of ownership of the solution.
Another unique feature of Broadpeak’s  operator CDN solution is called geo-content replacement. In some situations, where a content provider may not have broadcasting rights of content in a geographical area, the operator CDN manager can decide, depending on the time and the geographical location, whether to stream main content or alternative content. This tool  will be particularly beneficial for Telecom Argentina as it has recently decided to expand its content distribution services beyond Argentina. In situations when the content in Argentina is a football game, but a content provider in another region doesn’t have rights to the game, the geo-content replacement feature automatically replaces the game with alternative content.

A Successful Trial
Last July, Telecom Argentina trialed the operator CDN to a media broadcast company during the broadcast of Copa America, the oldest international continental football competition and a widely viewed worldwide sporting event. The operator CDN solution successfully provided an Internet streaming service for the radio and television channels that have emission rights, reaching approximately 30,000 Internet users simultaneously or 15Gb/s of IP multimedia streaming traffic. Internet traffic results showed that 92% of consumers watching the Copa America streams were from Argentina, and 97% were from Latin America, proving that network providers do have a role in the local content space.
After the successful trial, Telecom Argentina deployed the operator CDN for all of its streaming video content. While it is often complicated for networks or providers to attract content providers to a CDN platform, Telecom Argentina has been very successful in doing so. The operator CDN supports more than 100,000 simultaneous streams at over 8Gb/s and all of the current streaming formats, enabling Telecom Argentina to easily attract new customers. 

Utilizing Broadpeak’s BkM100 CDN Mediator and its family of live, on-demand streaming servers, Telecom Argentina’s content provider partners deliver live and VOD programming directly to viewers on PCs or through Telecom Argentina set-top boxes OTT. Without being at the mercy of a third-party CDN, the telecommunications provider guarantees the highest quality signal to consumers and a more fair revenue share for all of the parties involved.

While third-party CDNs offer expertise and the capability to handle international content distribution, they limit an operator’s control over the quality of the content, which can cost an operator subscribers and in turn revenue. Through the increased level of control afforded by the operator CDN, Telecom Argentina can lease space on its own CDN, eliminate network congestion, and increase the quality of experience for its subscribers.


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