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Akamai Intros Media Acceleration for OTT, Video Game Publishers

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Even the most die-hard over-the-top (OTT) video streamers know that broadcast and cable provide consistently better delivery. Hoping to improve OTT quality, content delivery network (CDN) Akamai is launching Akamai Media Acceleration to improve performance for OTT viewers and video gamers, bringing broadcast quality to broadband, it says. The feature is available to customers starting this week, and will be in beta until April 28.

Today's viewing issues come from network congestion, explains Scott Brown, Akamai's vice president of product management for media. As viewing shifts online, congestion grows and quality suffers. Akamai's approach prior to this was to optimize the parts of the network it controls, adding servers and moving them closer to end-viewers. However, this still leaves areas between the edge server and the viewers where Akamai has no control.

The idea behind Media Acceleration is to flip the problem and tackle last mile issues from a user-centric view.

“By integrating Akamai technologies directly into consumer applications we extend the opportunity to optimize the connection between the viewer and Akamai," Brown explains. "The technologies are designed to optimize quality during congestion, but also can reduce congestion on the network to improve the viewing experience, extend the life of operator capital investments, and ultimately contribute to sustainable economic models.”

Viewers using Akamai Media Acceleration can expect better viewing quality, reduced buffering, and less bitrate switching, Brown says. This last-mile solution uses the quick UDP internet connections (QUIC) framework as it provides secure transmissions over UDP while letting Akamai use its own congestion control mechanisms.

Vimeo has been testing Akamai Media Acceleration since December 2016, and notes that immediately after putting it in place it saw a significant increase in demand for HD-quality playback. Over 10 other companies have been testing the feature, but Akamai doesn't have permission to name them.

Besides improving OTT delivery issues, Media Acceleration helps video game publishers speed the delivery of games and other software. Media Acceleration will be added to Akamai's Adaptive Media Delivery and Download Delivery Products at no additional cost. To use the feature, customers will need to integrate the SDK into their app or browser environment.

Those interested can get an in-person look at Akamai Media Acceleration during next month's NAB conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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