by Stuart Hardy, Business Unit Manager of EOH’s Carrier and Network Solutions Division
With the growth of broadband services and extreme price competition, intelligent subscription and user management has become an important activity for ISPs. Mainstream broadband service offerings have changed both in nature and bandwidth intensity in recent years. There is now a broader demand for services like video conferencing, multiplayer gaming, video streaming, music streaming services like Spotify and Simfy, and digital television and movie streaming services like Netflix.
This multimedia content places more demands on bandwidth than ever before – even as high-speed, high capacity bandwidth becomes more readily available. ISPs are faced with more bandwidth demand and more traffic, as well as a different type of traffic. Traffic that was previously mainly concerned with web browsing and email is now increasingly more focused on bandwidth intensive, latency-sensitive activities.
If uncontrolled and unmanaged, these broadband users can negatively affect ISP’s networks, creating erratic network performance, slower data transfer speeds and an overall drop in service standards. The user experience is degraded for everyone using the network. This obviously creates a serious headache for ISPs – there is a need to balance overall network performance and average user experience with the demand for high bandwidth intensity services.
Subscription management solves the problem
Broadband offerings are typically designed with cost and usage in mind, so subscription management is needed to manage the usage element. The ideal situation is to be able to extract maximum performance from the network while keeping costs down. The principle of fair use comes into play here. Traffic needs to be optimised to give everyone fair access to bandwidth – giving high bandwidth users enough bandwidth to satisfy their needs without degrading the quality of service for more average bandwidth users. This traffic optimisation needs to occur without an expansion of capacity, given the extra costs that this would entail.
Intelligent subscription management is currently the best approach to this. Technology like Sandvine (EOH’s choice of technology) helps ISPs manage users and bandwidth allocation through the implementation of fair use policies and bandwidth shaping.
More specifically, it employs traffic optimisation techniques like controlling traffic peaks on transit and peering links, and defining traffic composition levels to preserve capacity. It thus preserves fair use and user experience of the network while saving costs. There are reduced transit expenses and more balanced peering relationships. More accurate congestion management lowers infrastructure requirements, which in turn extends infrastructure longevity. And detailed analytics makes it possible to predict expansion schedules to meet demand peaks.
The result is good overall user experience, fair bandwidth allocation and cost savings for both users and ISPs.
Stuart Hardy has been in the ICT industry since 1997, has been in the Telecommunications industry since 1997, intimately involved in product development, operations and product marketing roles. He has held Executive level positions in some of the largest Operators in South Africa and has founded and driven two successful start-up companies in the Mobile data and Wireless networking spaces. Today, Stuart is a Divisional Director for EOH in their Telecommunications sector.