Dynamic and Flexible UHD Content Distribution over 5G CDNs

Internet users have access to an increasing wide variety of access devices for consuming audio-visual content, such as smart-phones, tablets and goggles. At the same time, content is growing both in volume and quality. These trends are driving a significant increase in the use of bandwidth as well as computation resources. In addition, users are creating and uploading an increasing volume of multimedia content via social networks. Content distribution is dependent on underlying network capabilities and requires a reliable and high quality content-aware network that is open (in terms of open standards, interfaces and protocols) to potentially everybody and pervasive in all areas of the Internet. Here, telecom operators, manufacturers, content providers have the opportunity to participate in the value chain by implementing the necessary functions for replication, distribution and adaptation of content, without the need to be attached to legacy CDNs.

This use case enhances the Open CDN concept by the use of a flexible network architecture with a number of new capabilities to support developers in providing apps which can make use of 5G networks to distribute UHD content (4K and 8K) with the minimal consumption of resources. The UHD over CDN use-case will start from a CDN approach but will be based on a dynamically adaptable configuration of virtual CDN nodes and the network segments interconnecting them and the users, with the aim of efficient distribution of video streams with significantly reduced consumption of network resources. A new NFV flexible network architecture is needed to accommodate flexible resources and dynamicity in the allocation of computing resources and cloud-distributed functionalities.

The advantage compared to existing solutions, making content available with lower delay, jitter and consuming less network resources than current approach will allow i) to avoid the need of already established replica servers and pre-fetched allocations, thanks to the use of micro-cloud at the edge which can dynamically instantiate network applications closer to the user, ii) to reduce the overhead of media delivery and reduce latency (compared to some current CDNs imposing delays of up to several seconds) by the use of a cognitive network optimizer, iii) to dynamically allow balancing and caching, by using a mixture of edge and central computational resources as required by varying supply and demand patterns.

The UHD over CDN use-case will provide a reduction of cost with a flexible and adaptable solution. Its main benefit can be summarized as: i) decentralisation of network caching, media processing and application execution, ii) advanced security, privacy and trust of the content that traverses or is cached in the network, iii) better QoS/QoE for end-users, given that the requested content, being stored within the network, is closer to them, iv)  improved capabilities and reducing network resources with a flexible architecture, v) new and enhanced market opportunities for small ISPs and SMEs to join the market of audio-visual content delivery (or to expand their existing role), as it is avoiding vendor lock-in to a small number of dedicated CDN providers as in today’s market.

Scenario 1

Content distribution to mobile and fixed receivers for live content is needed with lower delay than current CDNs and with a similar quality to regular aerial broadcasting, but for UHD content. The scenario should be tested comparing the regular broadcasting of content in the Digital Terrestrial TV network versus that achievable through the 5G platform used. Performance should be assessed in terms of the quality of the content delivered and the impact on the QoE of the users.

Scenario 2

Large sport events are examples of events where millions of people wish to consume the same or similar content simultaneously. Very large numbers of users accessing the same content simultaneously is posing a challenge in terms of quality and costs for the operators and today’s mobile networks cannot provide the bandwidth required to provide all viewers with high-quality media streams. Delivery over 5G networks combined with flexible and dynamic provisioning of CDN infrastructure, caching capabilities and user adaptation can offer the possibility to tailor the viewing experience for each viewer, e.g. interchangeable audio tracks and alternative video angles.