Tuesday, July 5, 2011

BBTM Part 4:TIM & BitTorrent

Telecom Italy is facing the same issue most mature operators see today:
  • Mobile video traffic is growing explosively, threatening to overcome current capacity
  • LTE is a few years away and requires a completely new network overlay
  • The introduction of tablets and smartphone is accelerating the phenomenon
Additionally, TIM is lobbying GSMA to implement fast dormancy directives so that device manufacturers and apps can optimize signalling by batch sending messages rather than on an ad hoc basis.
End to end QoS via CDN interconnection and QoS guaranteed on a private backbone (IPX) is high on their agenda for video services.

TIM is answering these issues in a somewhat classic manner, introducing fair usage caps (daily, monthly), throttling, video optimization and policy management. The innovative part is in the introduction of tiered QoS (speed, duration) per class of service, urging the subscribers to select the speed and capacity the most adapted to their current or projected usage.

An interesting data point from TIM's presentation is related to signalling congestion. In many cases, signalling is as much an issue as actual bandwidth in congested network. Signalling is not only a function of the number of subscribers in a cell, but also the type of device and type of apps being used. For instance, Angry Birds on Android  represents a +351% signalling increase compared to the iOS version, due to in-app advertising. The app polls and displays an ad at each level change, creating signalling overload.

Eric Klinker, CEO of BitTorrent, walked in the room like a man with a target on his back. Seen as many as a powerful threat to the business model of content owners and telcos globally, BitTorrent is now advocating the use of their technology (mTorrent) as a highly scalable, secure way to transfer files, with a priority.
The plan for world domination means the replacement of TCP by P2P transfer, to allow capacity for the rest of the traffic.


What is interesting, is that BitTorrent has worked and is looking to work increasingly with carriers to help with P2P bandwidth consumption and traffic steering. For instance, in New Zealand,  BitTorrent works with Telecom New Zealand to prioritize to prioritize peer traffic on the island, reducing offshore traffic and associated costs .
Another example of opportunities for policies to transcend the core network, towards content and app providers.