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Qwilt adds live streaming support: saves ISP bandwidth, improves user experience

Qwilt announced today that its transparent caching solution can now handle live video streams, in addition to on-demand video content. This means that live web broadcasts can now benefit from the bandwidth optimization and quality of experience improvements transparent caches can provide. This is important, because we are set for a big expansion of live online this year.

The ever expanding bandwidth needs of online video is continuing to create problems for ISPs worldwide. It is increasing costs for operators and decreasing the quality of the video experienced by users. Conviva data shows that poor quality video results in viewers watching 75% less on-demand content and 85% less of a live stream.

Last year operators began to see very hopeful news that transparent caching technology seems to be making a big impression on the problem.  Mediacom announced that it had deployed Qwilt’s QB-series Video Fabric Controller in September 2013. Earlier this January, Netflix released its ISP rankings revealing that Mediacom’s ISP network had shown the greatest improvement, rising 3 places to number 8. Industry giant Comcast is number 14 in the ranking.

This is great news for an industry that has had scant alternatives to costly network equipment and bandwidth capacity upgrades to cope with the growth in online video usage. Unfortunately, other changes in the industry might have significantly reduced the impact of the transparent caching technique.

MVPDs have been rushing to get linear channels online and on the connected devices of their customers. Last year saw significant increases in the amount of OTT live linear from companies like Time Warner Cable and Verizon in the U.S., and Sky’s Now TV in the UK. Signs are this migration of live linear online by operators will accelerate in 2014.

Online providers also expanded their capabilities to live stream dramatically in 2013. YouTube expanded live streaming to all its channels, while sites such as Twitch and Red Bull Live continued to expand the amount live content they provide. Aereo expanded its live service and now reaches 11 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. Again, this trend looks to accelerate in the coming months.

Until now, all this live traffic was invulnerable to transparent caching technology. According to Dan Sahar, VP and Co-Founder of Qwilt, the company has solved the problems with live stream caching. The solution works by identifying popular live events and adding them to the QB-series’ Fast Cache. The next time a request is made by a new user to watch the stream, the QB-series redirects the stream delivery from its Fast Cache.

As with on-demand video, this approach saves the ISP bandwidth, since video streams are served locally, not from the Internet. It also improves quality as the video is streamed from much closer to the requestor. Mr. Sahar also said the QB-series doesn’t introduce any appreciable delay. So, there should be no danger of hearing the Super Bowl touchdown from your neighbor’s house before you see it yourself.

The good news for Qwilt’s existing customers is that their QB-series Fabric Controller will receive the upgrade to support live linear for free.

If you would like to learn more about how transparent caching can help the Internet serve prime time sized audiences, download a free white paper on the subject here.

Why it matters

The amount of live streamed video has increased dramatically over the last year and looks to do the same in 2014.

Transparent caching solutions have proved effective at improving quality of experience and reducing bandwidth for on-demand content.

Now the same technology can be applied to live streaming, hopefully yielding similar results.

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