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At NAB, Content Will be at the Mercy of Connectivity

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As thousands of broadcasters, content creators, and connectivity providers prepare to head to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) exhibition in Las Vegas in a few days, a quiet transformation is unfolding within the world of content and, more specifically, content delivery. For years, the NAB's tagline has fittingly been "Where Content Comes to Life," and that's largely achieved through connectivity. Without connectivity, there is no audience; with no audience, the very life and purpose of content are brought into question.

It isn't just content that's evolving, but the way we consume it. According to one 2024 study, video streaming now ranks third in the list of top internet usages globally, right behind "finding information" and "keeping in touch with friends and family." The amount of time spent watching broadcast television is also plummeting, particularly among younger generations, falling 8.2% year-on-year. In many ways, the content we choose to engage with now depends on its availability and the mode of delivery. Perhaps that's why one of the big themes at NAB in a few days is going to be connectivity.

Connectivity today is based on a variety of technologies. Mobile data traffic is surging, fuelled by high-resolution video streaming, social media, and online gaming – not to mention the countless industry applications emerging with the rollout of 5G – and the expectation for reliable, high-speed connectivity is beginning to peak. Yet while there's an understandable buzz around cellular technologies like 6G, it is only one part of a bigger picture. The unsung hero in this tale is likely to be Wi-Fi and its interplay with cellular networks and data centers. Wi-Fi has the potential to bridge cellular gaps, provide robust indoor connectivity, and onboard and offload users seamlessly under the right circumstances. For enterprises looking at these next-gen, data-intensive technologies, the speed and efficiency of their connection, or how fast they can move their data traffic from A to B and back again, becomes paramount. 

Convergence of network technologies for changing content consumption

As we move through 2024 and beyond, the interplay between mobile networks and landline networks will become increasingly significant, shaping the very foundation of our content consumption habits. This interaction is crucial as it determines the quality of service and user experience across various platforms, from streaming high-definition videos to engaging in real-time online gaming and facilitating efficient remote work environments. Mobile networks, with their ubiquitous presence, ensure connectivity on the go, while landline networks, often overlooked, serve as the backbone of internet infrastructure, providing the stability and high-speed connections essential for the seamless delivery of content to the end user.

The advent of Wi-Fi 7 introduces a new dimension to this ecosystem. With its promise of faster speeds, lower latency, and greater capacity, Wi-Fi 7 is set to enhance the way we interact with digital content at home and in the workplace. Wi-Fi 7's advancements offer tangible benefits for end users by improving the reliability and efficiency of connections within the last mile of content delivery. Along with the rollout of 5G Advanced later this year, this progression represents a significant leap forward, ensuring that as our digital needs evolve, our networks are equipped to support the next generation of internet usage and content consumption.

All the delegates at NAB know that Wi-Fi technology is going to be critical to the future of telecommunications, as is cellular, fiber, and satellite telecommunications technology. The convergence of a variety of network technologies, and the use of multiple devices in parallel and on the go, will shape the future development of content consumption. That is the fundamental importance of the Internet for the delivery of all types of content, enhanced with software overlays to provide individually customized viewing experiences.

Ensuring the quality and reliability of digital experiences

The evolution of content consumption towards Internet-based services over such a variety of platforms and devices has placed a focus on Internet Exchanges (IXs), which aggregate networks of all kinds in highly interconnected and efficient digital ecosystems. By facilitating direct, peer-to-peer connections between networks, IXs optimize data exchange, resulting in significantly reduced latency and enhanced performance, as well as more resilient connectivity. This architectural evolution is critical not only for the seamless streaming of high-definition content, but also for supporting the real-time, interactive experiences demanded by modern applications such as augmented reality and online gaming. As content becomes increasingly sophisticated and data-intensive, the role of IXs in ensuring the quality and reliability of digital experiences will emerge as central to content delivery.

What's more, the strategic use of IXs illuminates a path towards a more interconnected and resilient digital infrastructure. By enabling different networks to interconnect directly, IXs minimize the distance data must travel, thereby reducing potential points of failure and ensuring a smoother content delivery process. This level of interconnectivity is essential for meeting the growing expectations for instant access and interaction with digital content, irrespective of the user's location. So, as we look beyond the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center and towards the future, the expansion of internet exchanghes will undoubtedly play a central role in shaping the next generation of connectivity, setting the stage for a digital age where content delivery is as swift as it is secure.

Ivo Ivanov has over 20 years of experience in the internet industry. As former COO and CEO of DE-CIX International, he spearheaded global expansion efforts, establishing nearly 40 locations worldwide. Recognized as a top influencer in the telecom industry, Ivo’s strategic vision drives DE-CIX’s mission to provide neutral, high-performance interconnection services globally. He’s also pioneered the DE-CIX/UPF Global Interconnection Academy, aiming to set a global standard for interconnection experts. With a background in Law and Business, Ivo is fluent in German, English, Russian, and Bulgarian.

[Editor's note: This is a contributed article from DE-CIX. Streaming Media accepts vendor bylines based solely on their value to our readers.]

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