A Perfect Storm signals winds of change for Content Delivery Networks

April 14, 2021
A perfect storm for CDNs

Fuelled by the pandemic, there has been a huge increase in streaming entertainment services over the last year. Consumers are demanding more and more choice and have a seemingly insatiable appetite for content from Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Now TV, Apple TV, BT Sport, BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub – to name but a few.  

With this, maybe not unsurprisingly, broadband networks are struggling to keep up. After all, many of us have experienced the infamous frozen screen which is due to bottlenecks in the local delivery service. 

But this ‘chokepoint’ which has traditionally been in the last mile – from the local exchange to your home or business – is now moving further upstream to hyperscale data centres. This is a result of more and more fibre being installed in the local loop and the roll out of Fibre To The Premises (FTTP). As well as cities and towns getting fibre, rural communities can also take advantage of the DCMS FTTP voucher scheme. This has helped to pay for villages to have Full Fibre services delivered and means that the inhabitants can now access 1Gb whereas before they were lucky to get 10Mb delivered on the old copper network.  The UK Government is pushing full fibre services hard and pumping significant investment into this sector of the economy.

Another key driver for better broadband is the availability of 4K and 8K Ultra High Definition TV. 4K typically needs about 25Mbps with an extra 25% recommended to compensate for any speed drops. 8K, on the other hand, needs 100Mbps and 120 FPS compared to 4K’s 60 FPS. Although not many 8K TVs have been sold so far, prices are coming down fast. Here’s the thing: 8K films and TV programs are already being made but consumers can’t count on experiencing this superior service due to broadband services not measuring up. This is typically down to latency issues. Broadcasting live sporting events in 8K can only serve to compound the problem. 

Clearly, the huge competition between the streaming services and the reduction in cost of 4K and 8K TVs will add loads of extra pressure on the Content Distribution Network (CDN) providers. How these respond and differentiate themselves is going to be vital to their future success. Cloud gaming is a further challenge for CDNs: Fast PC’s and 4K monitors also require better broadband and low latency to give the best end user experience. Just consider the pressure on a CDN from a home with 1GB of broadband watching 8K TV and Cloud gaming all at the same time!

The solution is to deploy the most popular content at the edge of the network in ‘edge’ data centres, much closer to the end user. As well as giving a faster service with the lowest latency this can also benefit CDNs by reducing the cost of IP transit backhaul. 

When moving to the edge, CDNs should not accept any compromise in the quality of the services available from edge data centre providers. These should be as good as experienced in a hyperscale facility. Apart from a strategic location, their power availability, cooling and security are all essential to a successful CDN edge data centre strategy. 

At Proximity, we currently have six high quality edge facilities in the UK with a further 14 sites planned over the next 18 months. This allows us to offer edge colocation support exactly where it’s needed: One SLA, one contract, one service desk for reaching 95% of the UK population. Stay tuned for more…     

For information on how Proximity Data Centres can help achieve your CDN requirements call John Hall, Managing Director, Colocation at Proximity Data Centres on 07715 546958 or email [email protected].

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