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6 June 2019

Telefónica taps Nokia Deepfield at intersection of SDN-QoE analytics

Having recently spun off its IP video division Velocix, it was surprising to see Nokia’s name back in the TV game after winning what looks to be a significant video analytics deployment at Spanish giant Telefónica late last week. Deepfield’s Cloud Intelligence is a technology we are more accustomed to seeing in IoT verticals, so the emphasized online video angle to us underscores the significance of software-defined network (SDN) technology overlapping with pure QoE analytics in the OTT video space – with Deepfield providing visibility into application and service traffic on Telefónica’s precious Fusión IP network.

Deepfield’s deployment is described as enabling automated actions to significantly improve service assurance and performance, by providing data-driven analytics into the capacity being used. Combined with Nokia’s Cloud Genome technology, tracking over 50,000 OTT services and cloud applications (growing from 30,000 around two and a half years ago), Deepfield details a view of each network path and the aggregated traffic running to and through it. By scouting out bottlenecks through analysis of changing traffic patterns, the system claims to improve performance for both internet video and pay TV subscribers.

Then consider that Telefónica already sources QoE analytics from Conviva, one of the most revered video analytics vendors on the market, as well as tapping WiFi cloud management analytics from Assia, a stalwart supplier of signal alignment technology in the wireless space, and we can see that clearly Telefónica is taking its analytics strategy seriously.

Hence the name, Deepfield digs a bit deeper than QoE and WiFi analytics, providing network engineers with a method of adapting changes in application demand and fluctuating traffic patterns by supporting advanced IP network engineering and assurance use cases with automation. Deepfield’s pure software approach means operators can map out visibility into video services without requiring expensive probes.

In short, once an operator entrusts its network to software, it must ensure that piece of software is better tuned for making decisions than humans. SDN technology is increasingly being used together with complex analytics coupled with AI, geared towards reassuring operators that network automation was the correct decision. Nokia’s view is that most service providers have little understanding of the impact of video streaming on their networks, which is where the Genome technology comes in – tracking and monitoring services in the network itself. It can also allow the operator to control application performance and quality of service on a per-subscriber basis.

All the data collected from these various sources is analyzed and fed into applications for service assurance, network management and security. The existing user base is heavily focused on the US cable operators, with Comcast and Charter’s Time Warner Cable being customers, along with European research network GÉANT.

When Nokia acquired the US analytics firm Deepfield in late 2016, it was clear the Finnish firm hoped to steal a march on the advantages of SDN and virtualization – namely flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and intelligent allocation of resources on-demand – which rely on automating resource allocation in real-time and tapping into deep knowledge of the condition of the network and the behavior of users. Security was also a significant deal breaker, with Deepfield a specialist in protecting customers against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

Telefónica’s selection of Nokia Deepfield is part of a broader analytics and ambitious automation strategy, involving its Aura platform unveiled at Mobile World Congress 2018, which itself comes after Telefónica has learned hard lessons from earlier failed smart home ventures.

Such considerations have persuaded Telefónica to place the TV at the hub of the home ecosystem, particularly in Spain where it has over 4 million pay TV customers. So, while its Aura operates as a branded app in Argentina, Brazil and Britain, while being available via Facebook Messenger in Chile and Germany, it runs on Telefónica’s pay TV platform in Spain. Customer care, single billing, cross-selling and advertising are also part of Telefónica’s customer management circle along with the Aura platform.

Javier Gutiérrez, Director of Strategy and Network and IT Development at Telefónica Spain, said, “Telefónica is transforming its IP network to introduce automation capabilities. A detailed knowledge of network and service performance, in real-time, is required to truly achieve the benefits of automation. The Nokia Deepfield solution gives us the necessary network visibility and actionable analytics that will allow us to automate our operations and continue to improve our network and service capabilities.”