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How COVID-19 Has Made Streaming More Bi-Directional

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Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Peter Chave: We saw, in March, years' worth of growth happened with one month. This is because, suddenly, with everyone having to work from home, children not being able to go to school, where we would normally be concentrated in our offices on well-connected business-class services or at schools and very well connected digital environments. Now we're all logging on from home. And we're all basically coming in over our home connections and coming up through the DSLs and the CMTS systems--which, quite frankly, when we built the network, we didn't anticipate the network traffic shifting so quickly. And as you know, the internet is not just one network, it's a bunch of autonomous systems that are all connected together. And when we built the CDN, the idea of the CDN was to really solve the peering problem: the way these networks connect to each other.

Ted Stevens wasn't too far wrong when he said the internet is a series of tubes. It's a weak analogy, but there are tubes between these things. The peering point problem was, if everyone tried to get back to the same piece of content, you'd overrun that peering point connection. What happened with everyone moving to home is the peering points are okay because the CDNs are there at the edge to help serve that traffic.

Now the pinch points--the CMTS, or the DSLAM, which the ISPs are operating--suddenly have got a lot more streaming traffic, while it will juggle the connection. And we have this thing called adaptive bit rate, which we developed to try and help share out the bitrate. Suddenly, you've got an awful lot of other traffic, like Zoom calls, for example, and all this remote working and everyone logging in with VPNs.

And so a lot of that traffic is now bi-directional, whereas before, the internet, and a lot of these edge networks were really kind of asymmetrical. They were designed for big forward capacity to serve content with a relatively limited upstream for two-way conversations and for moving data back up the network.

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