Conquering video: Overcoming the congestion conundrum

Raffaele D'Albenzio サムネール
Raffaele D'Albenzio
Published February 23, 2018

Video is fast emerging as a Holy Grail for mobile operators.

The numbers don’t lie. Facebookers consume 8 billion videos a day, and 82% of Twitterers view video content. Significantly, 90% of Twitter video views and 60% of YouTube views are now from users on mobile devices.1

The video bonanza is partly fueled across the industry by ambitious service providers offering zero rating approaches or aggressively priced unlimited data plans. Cost-effective and intelligent traffic management solutions are the definitive life-blood of this new reality.

The majority of mobile video has two main characteristics: encryption via SSL or similar protocols and the fact that it is based on Adaptive Bit Rate (ABR) technology, which changes video resolution depending on available bandwidth.

Deployed on the Gi-LAN, F5 technology offers a cost-effective solution to the challenge of video by improving the way Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) works on the mobile network. TCP is the key transport protocol of the Internet infrastructure, the glue which, together with Internet Protocol (IP), ensures that all applications connect smoothly to our devices. It allows us to share resources with billions of people all over the world at the same time. It also establishes and manages traffic connections and congestion while taking care of transmission errors.

Today, F5 can detect video streams and manage them using TCP-Proxy-Based Bandwidth controls or Shaping Capabilities for User Datagram Protocol-based video streams. This enables service providers to adapt and reduce the amount of bandwidth used by video streams while continually safeguarding the user experience.

Looking ahead, TCP optimization will become increasingly important to service providers. F5’s current TCP optimization technology can already improve download performance by signal strength on faraway networks by 99.81% (103.48% for mid-range networks and 131.39% for nearby networks). In addition, F5 has recorded speed increases of 214.12% for download performance during heavy congestion (218.60% during medium congestion levels).

Key TCP optimization benefits include radio-centric congestion control Algorithms that adapt to mobile network idiosyncrasies and specificities. The algorithms are vital conduits to improve traffic flow and the overall user experience. TCP optimization techniques can also decrease the time between client and TCP termination, enabling both sides to react quickly in the instance of isolated losses or congestion events in the network. Furthermore, it is possible to decrease retransmissions to improve radio resource efficiency.

TCP has many moving parts, with new ones being added every day. Making sense of it all without proper finetuning and synchronicity is ill-advised. It is crucial for decision-makers to choose a TCP stack that encompass high goodput and minimal buffer bloat, as well as allowing for fairness between flows. In the era of mass video dissemination and usage, the optimal TCP stack must be more than a static bolt-on. Integration with other functionalities —including deep packet inspection, traffic steering, and load balancing—is essential.

Find additional information on F5's service provider solutions by visiting