Skyfire, Saguna, Flash and Vantrix all push data optimisation into the network

It's been a busy month for traffic optimisation news in the mobile network.

First Skyfire was taken out in an acquisition that surprised many – even those close to the company – by Opera.

That acquisition highlighted that Opera, for one, sees operator-focussed optimisation as a good opportunity – one that it was willing to spend up to $150 million on. “The market opportunity for video/media optimization solutions geared towards operators and consumers is significant. After a thorough evaluation of this market, we strongly believe Skyfire is the clear leader for the future in this space”, said Erik Harrell, CFO/CSO of Opera, in the statement.

Then Israeli company Saguna Networks backed up news that Ubiquisys has incorporated Saguna software into its Smart Cell solution with a blind announcement (ie no operator name approval) that a “Tier One Mobile Operator in Europe” is using its Content Optimisation Delivery Solution (CODS) in its network.

Unlike other some caching and optimisation solutions Saguna’s is based both at the base station and on the GI interface, so that mobile backhaul demands are reduced.

Other companies with a backhaul-reducing edge intelligence approach include Altobridge (and previously Sycamore, which had a thing called IQStream that got nowhere, due to Sycamore having coporate issues – ie. folding).

Up till recently, operators would have run a mile at base-station based caching and optimisation, thinking it far too costly a way to take care of business. But by putting much of the traffic control in software running on commercial hardware, and then performing content caching, DNS caching and DNS serving, and RAN aware video optimisation on remote nodes that sit in the RAN, Saguna claims it can create an “application-aware RAN” without breaking the bank.

Up till now, the company had FibroLAN as its commercial reference, with the backhaul company licensing Saguna’s CODS for its Falcom Synchronous Ethernet demarcation units. Ubiquisys and the mysterious “Tier 1 operator” move the market on for Saguna.

Another Israeli data optimisation company, Flash Networks, Flash Networks then came in with a claim that it has boosted download and browsing speeds by up to 50% with five Tier 1 operator networks – winning those operators awards in local speed test trials.

“Five Tier 1 operators around the globe won first place in network regulator speed trials after implementing our TCP+ technology, most of which improved their former years’ competitive position,” said Merav Bahat , Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Flash Networks.

Flash Networks’ TCP+ optimisation adjusts transmission rates based on “real-time” network conditions.

Vantrix claimed that the solution is: “Significantly more scalable, cost effective, and deployment-friendly” than existing commercial-off-the-shelf solutions.

Finally, Vantrix, Vantrix, a video-focussed optimisation company and QuickFire Networks announced the availability of QuickFire’s T-Video V1100 applicance – based on Intel Core i7 processors. The companies claim a single appliance can replace a full rack of standard servers, while enabling new services and delivering better mobile video performance.

Vantrix claimed that the solution is: “Significantly more scalable, cost effective, and deployment-friendly” than existing commercial-off-the-shelf solutions.

Jim Knapik, President and CEO of Vantrix, said, “Our Bandwidth Optimizer solution easily adapts to the radical new implementation and allows us to scale far beyond what’s currently possible on other commercial platforms.”

The question of how to optimise networks to be application-aware is at the heart of these approaches. Operators welcome the so-called “OTT” traffic in many circumstances – where capacity is available and their “core” services are left untouched as a result. But in cells and on links where there are constraints, then optimisation, especially of the 10% of videos and content that makes up the bulk of views, makes sense.

LTE might bring more spectral efficiency and bandwidth, but it is being sold as the “watch video on your mobile” technology by many operators. As recently as last September, Vodafone Germany said that 80% of all its data traffic on LTE was video traffic. Where things get more tricky for operators is in the politics and commercial implications of how that optimisation or even prioritisation might be applied to this “OTT” content.

From a technology perspective, there is no doubt increasing competition amongst the optimisation vendors to supply the most cost=effective, scalable solution – what the operators then do with it is up to them.