Russian operators face olympic task to meet mobile video demand

Russian mobile networks require urgent upgrades to cope with rising video traffic, with nearly 40 per cent of all videos shown over current 3G networks affected by stalling or buffering, mobile browser company Opera Software has revealed.

Research carried out by Skyfire, Opera's cloud-based mobile-video-optimisation unit, shows that 37 per cent of video played on Russian 3G networks is affected by buffering and stalling to some degree. Of the total, 28 per cent suffers what the company calls "significant" stalling, where at least 10 per cent of the overall playback time of a video is affected by problems.

Opera predicts that mobile video traffic in Russia will grow at a CAGR of 85 per cent between 2012 and 2017, citing research by Cisco. The companies forecast that 58 per cent of all data traffic in Russia will come from video in 2017, compared to 43 per cent in 2012.

In the near term, the opening of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi next weekend is set to add to Russian operators' mobile video problems, said Nitin Bhandari, SVP of products, operator solutions at Opera. However, Bhandari points out that operators have the chance to address mobile video optimisation in tandem with LTE rollouts.

"With 2018's FIFA World Cup also taking place in Russia, the country's mobile networks will continue to experience surges in mobile video," Bhandari said.

Skyfire conducted the study by combining its global data on mobile video network loads with bandwidth test data from wireless network authority OpenSignal, using data on Russia's networks in 2013.

The research showed 16 per cent of videos streamed on 3G networks run at around 300-Kbps or less, which Opera notes is a very low speed for playback on mobile devices. HD video requires between five times and 10 times more bandwidth, the company said. Auto-play video features in popular mobile apps including Vine and Instagram need between 900-Kbps and 1,300-Kbps to run, and operators risk frustrating subscribers as lower bandwidths increase the load time for videos.

Opera said the Skyfire research backs up the results of a separate subscriber study conducted for the browser company by On Device Research in Russia last December.

In that research, 37 per cent of subscribers said they often experience problems with video playback on mobile devices, with a further 13 per cent reporting problems all the time.

For more:
- see this Opera Software release

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