Welcome to the Edge – A New Standard
of Content Delivery

By: Nimrod Cohen

Customers are the most important stakeholder in any business model. In the world of content delivery, communications service providers (CSPs), whether mobile or fixed broadband, must provide a seamless quality of experience (QoE) to end users or suffer churn. Yet, when the content industry is experiencing a near-constant transition with demand for more bandwidth-intensive streaming offerings growing, the challenge of maintaining a superior QoE across video-on-demand and OTT services is both complex and costly to resolve.

The remarkable growth of streaming services and the promise of new applications demanding higher bandwidth and lower latency have highlighted the urgent need for more effective delivery architectures. New formats, including virtual and augmented reality (AR/VR), Ultra High-Definition (UHD) video, social media, gaming, and the emergence of the metaverse, all signify monumental changes in consumer behavior for immersive digital streaming experiences.

This hunger for bandwidth is putting immense pressure on CSP networks. Many CSPs are boosting their capacity and moving to fiber-to-the-cabinet or premise to increase broadband speeds. Data from Cisco highlights that global fixed broadband speeds will reach 110.4 Mbps by the end of this year. While this is more than double the speed in 2018, it’s not enough.

The move to full fiber is costly and does not entirely alleviate the inefficiencies of moving data streams from distant clouds to local consumers. As such, content delivery networks (CDNs) emerged decades ago as intermediaries by moving content slightly closer from source to destination. But this method no longer adequately addresses each CSP’s challenge in delivering publishers’ content across their vast networks to the end user. The commercial CDN model of the last 20 years is simply outdated, and a new delivery architecture is required. CSPs must embrace technologies that enable them to reach the edge quickly and with minimal friction to ensure the content delivery journey is reliable and efficient and offers the best possible user experience.

New age, new architecture: enter open caching

Resolving the CSP’s challenge of localized delivery has been one of the biggest drivers behind the global proliferation of Open Caching technology. CSPs benefit from the Open Caching architecture that embeds caches in the access network that are downstream of potential congestion at peering and exchange points. These Open Caches act as edge servers that can deliver content closer to end users than ever before. The result is improved delivery quality and dramatically reduced costs in building network capacity. This approach also opens the doors to new business models and revenue from content publishers, alongside the potential to serve new use cases by acting as a scalable ‘edge cloud’ platform. By having flexible computing and storage capacity embedded at the edge, CSPs can start to deliver new services such as volumetric content, cloud edge gaming, and IoT—without having to reinvest in new infrastructure.

Time for a change…

As previously mentioned, the traditional CDN approach most often serves publishers’ content to the peering points of CSPs. From there, it’s up to the CSP to deliver the content across their network to the end user, taking on responsibility for the final user experience. The traditional CDN model, however, has not progressed the operating model in a way that favors CSPs. 

As shown in Figure 1 on the next page, delivering CDN functionality over an edge computing infrastructure can help bring content closer to the user by pushing the content caching and delivery as far out to the edge of the network as possible. If we look at the bottom of Figure 1, there are multiple service providers, each with their own edge compute platform that includes multiple open cache nodes across the edge. Each node has a secure connection to the cloud, where information is collected for provisioning, configuring, and monitoring. The nodes are then connected using an open application programming interface (API) to create a unified global CDN that content publishers can use for delivery. This can improve the quality of delivery and


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