We found a telco at IBC and they’re doing something pretty good

It took us a while but we found one, and it wasn’t what we were expecting. Turns out the Aussies are a little bit more enthusiastic about video than the Europeans.

Representing the shy telcos we have Telstra. And what they are doing is a pretty neat little idea. It sounds very logical as well, so it shouldn’t be too long before such an idea becomes a trend. How would you like a bit of pre-positioning?

It’s a simple idea. Using artificial intelligence, LTE-B networks and a host of applications, Telstra has been running a trial to host content on the edge of its network and also caching content on users devices. Imagine a video where you don’t have any start up time, or there won’t be any streaming breaks in the middle; it’s the dream right? And it might be a reality before too long.

What is key here is personalization, which might be a hurdle for a few in the industry. For this to work properly, you’ll need to genuinely understand the customer. You’ll need to have a recommendation engine which is pretty accurate otherwise it would be deemed a waste, but if you can nail the analytics side of things the rewards could be pretty substantial.

The example which Telstra’s Mukaddim Patham used was Telstra’s own content offering (which removed some of the complications which we will explain later on). Telstra has been growing its content offering over the last couple of years, focusing heavily on sports. Here, AFL, NRL and Netball are the pillars and over the last two years, sport specific video data traffic has grown 130%. Ideas for ensuring improved experience were welcomed.

Using an in-depth recommendation model, the team were able to figure out what content individual users would want, and with a greater emphasis on network analytics, the team was also able to predict when the content should be delivered to avoid congestion on the network. The result was mobile cached content, and Patham reckons he can get a 30-40% efficiency gain on the network as well.

Whether it would be 3X greater average bitrate, or 3X faster start-up time or 5X lower buffering ratio, the results of the test were pretty positive. If you get it right, the experience for the user on a mobile device should not be too dissimilar from traditional TV. A demonstrable drain on the battery was seen, and there could be storage issues, dependent on the users device, but it is a pretty good idea.

And now down to the complications. If you don’t know your user, there is no point. Why deliver content to a user who is never going to play the video. This could be an issue for a number of companies who recommendation engines are not the most accurate. Sticking with analytics, if you don’t have a comprehensive understanding of you network, delivering the content strategically might become problematic as well. Ideas like this will soon figure out who has been investing appropriately in analytics and who hasn’t.

Another complication would be certificates. Telstra was able to run this trial effectively because it owned the rights to the content, but the delivery of certificates when using partner content could be a bit of an issue. But this is still on the test grounds, Patham never said it was perfect.

It is a simple idea, but the best ones often are. Users are demanding highly quality and more readily available content from providers, and while there is little reward for actually getting it right, the consequences of getting it wrong are massive. It is a thankless task, but nonetheless, little ideas like this will make it a bit easier.

Exfo set to snap up Astellia

Test and measurement specialist Exfo has announced it will acquire a 33% stake in Astellia, and will soon be launching a voluntary takeover bid of the company.

The purchase of Astellia will eventually take Exfo into new waters, as the organization is primarily focused on testing new solutions prior to commercial launches. With Astellia in its armoury there is potential for the team to move into the on-going network management space as Astellia focuses on performance analysis of mobile networks and subscriber experience.

Astellia describes itself as a provider of network and subscriber intelligence enabling mobile operators to improve service quality, maximize operational efficiency, reduce churn and develop revenues. The main focus of the business in recent months has been automated optimization, actionable geolocated insights and big-data analytics for operations, customer service and marketing functions of the business. In other words, it claims to give tips to operators on how to do things better. One of those ones.

“This investment in Astellia is in line with our strategy to increase our critical mass and our client base, and to expand our addressable market in the global analytics and service assurance industry,” said Germain Lamonde, Executive Chairman of Exfo’s Board of Directors.

“If our public tender offer is successful, we’ll be able to combine Astellia’s solutions and services with those of Exfo and become a world leader in the network monitoring and analytics sector and target growth opportunities such as network virtualization, 5G and the Internet of things.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Exfo will purchase the company from the three Astellia founders, as well as Isatis Capital. The deal itself is yet to clear the approval of French foreign investment authorities and the supervision of Autorité des marchés financiers. That said, Astellia’s Board of Directors has already given the thumbs up to the deal, which will total roughly €25.9 million. The deal is expected to close during the latter stages of 2017.