Last year, I was curious about how content gets delivered across the internet and especially to mobile devices. It led me to dig deeper into Content Delivery Networks. Content Delivery Network is distributed server network that distributes web content to various servers around the world so users from that geographic location can access the content faster.
Imagine you upload your cat's picture on your website from Darien, Connecticut. If the picture is hosted on a local server in Connecticut, your girlfriend trying to access it from Japan might experience some latency. However, if you submit it to Content Delivery Network, which will then distribute your content to their servers in Japan, your girlfriend's request to access the picture on your webpage will be accelerated as the request doesn't have to travel all the way across the Pacific to local servers in Connecticut.
Content Delivery Network (or CDN) have evolved over time. Users have gone mobile and mobile carriers are struggling to differentiate their offering all the while having to deal with limited spectrum resources and managing expectational quality-of-service. To re-coup the subscribers, carriers are moving into the content business. T-Mobile is providing free music streaming over their 4G LTE while Verizon completed its purchase of AOL back in June. With a large number of subscribers streaming music and videos, traditional CDN might not able to keep up with the streaming demand. Hence they are seeking a better solution.
Traditional CDN falls under "middle-mile" in the network ecosystem where contents are delivered across the servers in different geography. However, most of the latency occurs in the last mile, i.e. between the cell tower antenna and the mobile device. So, mobile operators are looking for a better last-mile solution to increase the bandwidth capacity.
Last-mile CDN is a relatively new concept and few startups are working to build this technology. In the last-mile solution, contents are cached in a mobile base station closer to the subscriber. This prevents content-access-request to travel all the way to the CDN server and may be accessed directly from the mobile base station thereby saving content load time.
A startup like Teclofrom Switzerland provides list mile delivery working directly with network operators during the radio Access Network (RAN) planning process. Whereas startups likeTwinprime, KwicrandRevAPMworks on last-mile delivery through advanced content acceleration by dynamic route optimization. Another company calledSaguna Networks which provides last-mile delivery in RAN with its easy network Function Virtualizationtoolshas formed a strategic alliance with traditional CDN behemothAkamai Technologies(NASDAQ: AKAM) to roll out their solution with mobile operators.
Advancement in last-mile Content Delivery Network technologies will prove to be an effective solution to improve quality-of-service(QoS) for the network operators and content providers alike. I have high hopes of watching this dog eat cereal on Youtube without any lag on my 4G LTE phone someday.