How ISP Matching within Mesh Delivery Helps Ensure Network Integrity
With streaming services more popular than ever and audience sizes growing all the time, video providers are continually looking for ways to optimize their live and on-demand content delivery in ways that go beyond traditional CDN services. That’s why, in addition to offering a global content delivery network with over 170 Tbps of capacity, Lumen® Mesh Delivery empowers further optimization of the end-user streaming experience when audience levels rise.
As a hybrid peer-assist solution based on the WebRTC protocol, Mesh Delivery processes real-time feedback from the video players to source content from the most efficient source: either the CDN or a mesh network of other user devices watching the same content. In doing so, it essentially turns user devices into mini edge servers that can share the video content with other viewers nearby.
By allowing users to source content from fellow users nearby rather than always having to go back to the CDN, Mesh Delivery helps to decongest the network and reduce latency, thus improving the streaming experience as the viewing audience grows.
That peer-to-peer matching is based on many different algorithmic criteria with the end goal of maximizing the CDN offload by connecting as many users as possible. The content sharing parameters include criteria such as the quality of the video tracks and playback position (among others), while the CDN offload criteria is based on ISP, autonomous system number (ASN), and the geographic proximity between users.
One issue that can arise if sharing parameters aren’t controlled properly is ISP peering or Internet exchange points getting saturated, particularly during live streams that attract large audience numbers. It’s also important for ISPs to control where their traffic is routed and what other networks with which to peer.
To help service providers ensure network integrity when utilizing Mesh Delivery, Lumen offers an optional ISP matching feature that restricts the connected devices from sharing content outside of the ISP network. In addition to preserving ISP traffic, this has the added benefit of potentially increasing the CDN offload because intra-network peers tend to be closer to each other, thus increasing the chance for a reliable and fast connection between them.
There are a few different ways of configuring the ISP matching within Mesh Delivery:
- A video provider can implement preferred or strict matching
- Matching can be activated based on the number of viewers of a given piece of video content, ensuring that it’s only implemented when necessary to preserve the traffic levels on that ISP.
- ISP whitelists or blacklists can be established based on different layers of granularity:
- Global ISP
- Regional ISP
ISP matching for major 2021 live events
We saw the effects of ISP matching within Mesh Delivery quite clearly over the course of two popular live sports events in the summer of 2021.
Beginning at the end of May, the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros drew large streaming audiences from all over the world, and particularly in France and other parts of Europe where the matches were often played in primetime. For those two weeks of matches, which encompassed up to 10 hours of live streaming on some days, one of the primary national broadcasters of the event deployed Mesh Delivery with preferred intra-ISP matching activated.
Even with the matching activated, there was no impact on the amount of traffic that was offloaded from the CDN onto the mesh network, with the average offload coming in at 74% and the maximum at 85%, which is consistent with what we see when there’s no ISP matching activated.
Digging a bit deeper into the ISP matching data, we see that it was very effective at keeping peer-to-peer exchanges within individual consumer ISPs. Of the major French ISPs that were used to deliver the streams, the average rate of intra-ISP exchanges was 92%, including 87% at max audience (for context, random ISP matching typically sees roughly 25% of the exchanges take place within the same ISP).
Perhaps most importantly, the high rate of intra-ISP exchanges occurred without any negative impact on the quality of the stream, with the metrics for average bitrate, average buffering ratio and time spent on the highest quality track all in line with the high QoS stats that we’ve seen in the past with Mesh Delivery.
A few weeks after the conclusion of the French Open, the UEFA 2020 European Football Championship tournament (aka the Euros) took place over four weeks across June and July. Similar to the French Open, the Euros are one of the most prestigious international sports tournaments in the world, and thus drew its typical large audiences across Europe, with a max viewership of 500K users and maximum peer-to-peer bandwidth of 1 Tbps.
The two primary broadcasters of the Euros activated the ISP matching feature, which led to intra-ISP exchange rates consistently above 77% with a maximum of 88% (the average rate was 82%).
It’s worth noting as well that we saw those high rates during some of the most popular matches. For example, the game with the highest traffic numbers (France v. Switzerland on June 28), all four major ISPs kept over 84% of the peer-to-peer sharing within their networks.
Live and VOD delivery solutions built for the modern streaming world
One of the biggest advantages of Lumen Mesh Delivery is that it’s tailor-made for the new normal of the OTT broadcasting space. Streaming audience numbers soared during the COVID-19 pandemic for both live and on-demand content, and have remained at consistently high levels even as lockdowns end and people start attending live sporting events in person again.
But with Mesh Delivery, broadcasters are able meet the size of the audience demand without provisioning more network capacity or investing in new CDN delivery infrastructure. With that type of flexibility, OTT broadcasters don’t have to worry about making last-minute capacity requests or overage charges on their monthly CDN bills.
To learn more about how Mesh Delivery or other solutions help improve the performance, security, and reliability of your edge and web applications, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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