In recent years, the way content is created and consumed has fundamentally shifted. The meteoric rise of streaming and online content provided by OTT (Over-the-Top) entities — such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Youtube — is redefining requirements throughout the technology, telecom and end-user spheres. As a predominant facet of expanding bandwidth requirements, video streaming capabilities are putting pressure on players across the telecommunications industry to reconfigure their network strategies. While plenty of opportunities exist in this new world of content, if telecom operators fail to figure out a way to successfully deliver the necessary capacity, they risk falling behind and ultimately losing their edge. 

OTT media services, or third-party streaming media services provided directly to viewers over the internet, are dominating. In fact, The 2018 Global Internet Phenomena Report from networking equipment company Sandvine recently revealed that nearly 58 percent of all downstream internet traffic consists of video streaming. 

This method of streaming bypasses cable, broadcast and satellite television platforms that have traditionally acted as a controller or distributor of such content. It also contrasts with other methods of purchasing or renting video content from an Internet Service Provider (ISP), such as pay television, video-on-demand or otherwise. With this recontoured method of delivery increasing consumption substantially, network architecture must pivot to deploy services beyond traditional cable and satellite television networks. If an enterprise’s network cannot deliver adequate capacity, end user experience will be compromised (resulting in poor quality playbacks, buffering, pixelation, etc.), customers will jump ship for a different provider and companies’ bottom lines will suffer. 

To support new sky-high bandwidth demand, telecom companies are using scalable cloud computing resources that support geo-redundant high availability over public internet infrastructure. This strategy provides the flexibility and availability required to support video streaming. Network providers can also increase network bandwidth with equipment upgrades, such as deploying distributed video edge caching strategies or building out virtualized or software-defined implementations.  

As networks evolve, the industry is seeing that this growth of streaming aligns with the push toward the edge. While data can traverse great distances almost instantaneously, even high-end fiber optic cable is constrained by the laws of physics. Consequently, the location of the data center matters even more when consumer content is involved. To solve issues of latency, quality and capacity, moving data and content closer to the end users with a distributed data center strategy is becoming a key to success. Strategic location can cut down on latency, reducing the time it takes a piece of data to physically travel from its source to the end user.

There’s no question that streaming is permanently altering the foundations of the telecommunications industry. As a result, a sense of urgency is arising as demands grow and network solutions are needed now to keep consumers happy into the future. As the industry heads into an era where OTT content is a cornerstone, network topologies and build strategies will continue to evolve and spread to ensure seamless coverage and capacity.