T-Mobile has upset the mobile data landscape yet again, with free Big Data Video streaming.
How can they offer this service? I’m speculating, but here at Procera we’ve done a few exercises similar to this for customers that led to unlimited services, so I think I have a good idea.
If we look at the service from a statistics and Big Data point of view of whether I wanted to offer this service, what would I need to know to start modeling a similar service offering? Let’s start with the basics:
- How much data does the service consume per subscriber?
- Can I 100% identify the data that belongs to that service?
Both are Step 1 in T-Mobile’s case, they removed the variability of what is normal to streaming video by limiting the bandwidth per stream to 480p, making the bandwidth usage predictable. Normal streaming video tends to use as much bandwidth as possible to deliver higher resolution, but T-Mobile is requiring this if you want to be a part of the unlimited offer. Since this is a mobile network and you’re targeting mobile devices, 480p is fine for watching on phones or tablets (which is part of the plan, more on that later). Identifying the traffic for a “source-based” service like this is also something that can be done if the content provider will ensure that all traffic to T-Mobile goes through a specific CDN or peering link.
With this data, T-Mobile can now model out how these services will impact their network. To go to the next step (Step 2) in the Big Data progression, they need to think about a few other factors:
- How many of their subscribers regularly use the service today?
- Where are they in the network?
- How many new subscribers will they get that will be big users of this new service and where do they think they will be?
- Can their network handle the increased data load from existing and new subscribers or is it profitable enough to pay for network investments so they can meet the load?
This is something that a data scientist would relish tackling. Apparently the ones that did liked what they came up with. There are clearly a few bets here, like restricting the video bandwidth to 480p to make sure that people don’t switch to T-Mobile from their DSL, FTTx, or cable connections to try to watch Netflix on their big screen TV, or that they won’t get a massive crush of new subscribers that will overload their network. Make no mistake, if T-Mobile made some incorrect estimations, their subscribers could be very unhappy if either streaming quality suffers, or other data traffic degrades due to an overload of video. I’m sure that they’re monitoring consumption very closely to make sure that this doesn’t happen.
We’ve done this exercise at Procera for many of our customers, mostly for streaming audio or VOIP services. It comes down to knowing two things:
- Your Subscribers consumption patterns.
- Your Network’s ability to handle the load.
Big Data is your friend – the better data you have, the more creative you can be. Kudos to T-Mobile for changing the game, yet again.
I wonder what’s next.
Topics: Expert Insights