Why should service providers care about the user experience of OTT (Over the Top) services? Netflix, Skype, YouTube, Pandora, and other voice/video/data services are all riding over the top of mobile and fixed line broadband networks and essentially getting a free ride. Why should a carrier spend its precious capital budget on monitoring these OTT services? Well, it’s for the very simple reason that from the subscriber’s perspective, they will always blame the service provider if an OTT application doesn’t work well. It doesn’t matter if it’s the device codecs (causing voice and video problems), the browser incompatibility preventing the application to load, the OTT server, network or application that fails to respond or often low bandwidth issues with the access network that they don’t realize they are on, or the actual service provider network, the subscriber will still blame the carrier be it Verizon, Comcast, AT&T….whomever their service provider is.
It’s really all about perception. Sure, there are many things that can happen in the network to degrade or deny an OTT service. First, there is the access network and the available bandwidth. With all carriers, there can be problems with service enablers, such as DNS, which is utilized to translate domains to get to the IP Address of the OTT application(s), and Diameter messaging for Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting (and Policy), that enables subscribers to start a data session. And of course, the packet core networks can experience latency, errors and failures in serving data sessions.
Indeed, there are so many more issues, outside of the control of the service provider that can impact the user experience with an OTT application.
The carrier does in fact have a self interest in monitoring OTT applications. OTT applications are coming onto their networks whether they want them to or not. Net Neutrality guarantees it. So why not see what OTT services are running roughshod over the network and consuming the most resources? What OTT services are experiencing poor service and leading to subscriber trouble tickets? Is there a way to organize the network or route the traffic to better manage the top bandwidth consuming OTT apps? Is there an opportunity to offer a substitute home grown OTT application that produces new revenues?
And finally, what about monetizing the information on the consumption of OTT applications? Service assurance solutions produce metadata on KPIs and Subscriber sessions for monitoring purposes that can be anonymized, that is removing all subscriber and network information to protect the innocent, and then shared in aggregate or with single subscriber resolution. This anonymized data is quite valuable to OTT application providers, as well as device makers.