Kaltura helps Akamai give mobile networks more breathing space

US over-the-top vendor Kaltura has struck an extension deal with content delivery network (CDN) giant Akamai, which looks like the first partner integration deal for Akamai’s Predictive Content Delivery service.

This technology provides mobile operators with a method for increasing network capacity as well as offering OTT video opportunities, by storing cached content on devices for offline viewing.

Offline viewing may seem like a move by Akamai against its own best interests, as more traffic traveling over its CDN results in more business and higher fees. However, perhaps this a hint that even the world’s largest CDN provider is preparing for unprecedented levels of traffic on its network in the future – and catering for offline viewing is one simple strategy for relieving some of its own bandwidth constraints, as well as those faced by operators.

The extension to an existing partnership with Kaltura involves a combination of Predictive Content Delivery and Akamai CDN products, with the Kaltura TV Platform’s customer viewing data.

The resulting product enables predictive on-device caching to download content in the background while connected to a strong WiFi signal. It says each offline download is based on a user’s individual profile and history – automatically downloading a personalized selection of titles available to view on the go, without any buffering issues.

For example, an avid sports fan could have pre-game analysis for their favorite team downloaded to their device before they arrive at a stadium – an environment where networks commonly grind to a halt.

Essentially this a combination of a recommendation engine and some background download mechanisms, to shift the delivery time of heavy traffic such as HD video to non-peak times, therefore increasing peak time capacity. The recommendation engine is essential for ensuring that unwanted content is not taking up space, and any irrelevant videos doing just that will warrant negative responses from end users – so the software needs to be spot on.

The technology is aimed at mobile operators with the obvious benefit of increased network capacity, but also the option to build new revenue streams by offering premium content services to mobile subscribers and video content providers.

Akamai said its product already used a recommendation engine prior to Kaltura’s involvement, so Kaltura may not be the exclusive provider of content recommendations across the board – an MNO might prefer to use its own, for instance.

Predictive Content Delivery comes in two flavors, as a software development kit that can be integrated into an existing app, or as the white label Akamai WatchNow App, with both able to integrate digital rights management software.

Akamai first showcased its predictive delivery capabilities a year ago, aiming to improve viewing experiences through instant start-up of high quality/high bitrate video with no buffering, saying it would make this available to white label apps. The technology allows on-demand content to be pre-positioned and stored on mobile and in-home devices, overcoming the inherent challenges of delivering video over the radio access network and internet. This is a similar approach to that of the NanoCDN from French player Broadpeak – an approach that has won it a number of contracts and a certain acclaim.

As well as saving itself and its customers’ precious bandwidth, Akamai is likely storing the cached content at the network edge and will be paid for the privilege, while Kaltura will make its money from the deal by providing customers with the data for content recommendations.

Akamai’s director of cloud services partners, John Sconyers, said: “By pre-positioning video to the device, Predictive Content Delivery removes many of the barriers that discourage on-the-go viewing such as poor network conditions and heavy data usage associated with streaming video and access to available content. It enables an efficient ‘download-to-go’ solution for mobile apps and allows for offline viewing of videos.”

Ron Yekutiel, Kaltura CEO, added: “The accelerated pace of content consumption on mobile devices is quickly driving service providers to find creative solutions to tackle the challenges of both network limitations and user expectations. Together with Akamai, we now provide an incredibly compelling solution to our service provider customers, who come out ahead both in terms of the user experience they provide, and in terms of dramatic cost reduction.”