Viblast bPDN: the algorithm for solving broadcasters’ problems [3/4]

April 5, 2016

In the previous article, we talked about what is P2P, how does it generally work and how it’s implemented in video streaming. In case you have missed it, you can read it here.

And if you prefer reading something that is not too technical but will still give you a good idea of what this series is all about, the introductory article to the Viblast PDN series is a must!






The Business

In today’s world broadcasters are one of the greatest and most influential sources of information - be it news, events or, basically, any sort of video streaming (not only informational but also entertaining).

Being that video is slowly working its way to becoming the cause for most of the internet traffic overall, these fellas must find a way to stay up to date and manage their business growth.

There are many ways to do this, sure. But here comes the always accurate business question - what is the best way?



The Questions

  • What are the challenges broadcasters face as providers of live video streaming services?

  • How can these problems be dealt with without compromising the video quality or the QoE?

  • Is the P2P approach always the best alternative?


  • Read this and more in the following paragraphs!



The Situation

Broadcasters provide OTT (over-the-top content) services. This means they are dependent on the state of the network - it’s infrastructure, bandwidth capacity, etc.

The purpose of the CDN is to resolve issues exactly of this sort. But there is another problem arising considering CDNs - last-mile video delivery which they cannot always deal with but should also be considered when searching for a solution to the broadcaster’s problem.

Moreover, they provide a video stream to a number of viewers which, in the common case, is not defined and varies depending on the hour of the day, the type of video, you name it. However, if the stream is live - a sports event, an online TV channel, etc. - a viewership peak is inevitable.



Imagine you want to broadcast live the Super Ball, or the NBA finals, or the Oscars… just take the last event as an example and remember the hype around this year’s Oscars - bears and Leonardo everywhere! Imagine how many people will watch such a live stream! Respectively, think about how that would affect your network infrastructure - it will probably be overwhelmed and your bandwidth capacity will be low.

Considering the network itself and its’ capabilities, you need to ask yourself one question - “Is my network capable of this and what should I do if it isn’t?”


So, how can you prepare your network and yourself so that you can provide a high quality video stream to your subscribers and not compromise their QoE in any way (especially with service outages in the culmination of the event they have been waiting a long time to watch)?

It is easy - you just need to find a solution that will optimize your network resources. Why not decentralize the central load, for example? Is this an option?


However, prior to asking yourself more questions and seeking for their answers, you need to clearly define the problems you’re facing.



The problems

  • insufficient bandwidth - viewers can’t load and watch the stream

  • viewership spikes which cause service outages during peak hours


All broadcasters seek a solution that can both reduce bandwidth usage and deal with viewership spikes.



The solution

Viblast bPDN addresses the problems broadcasters face in several important ways:

  1. By decentralizing the network resources, it offloads the CDN (and the overall network infrastructure) and increases bandwidth capacity

  2. Insures against spikes - the peer network builds a naturally scalable shield against service outages during viewership peaks

  3. Improves the quality of the stream and leads to a higher QoE - no buffering and fast start time


However, there are some cases in which the P2P approach would not work for broadcasters because there is an elephant in the room - the network’s topology. It is such a major issue because there is no knowledge about it whatsoever.


To clarify the subject a bit more, we decided to define the different scenarios (or cases) broadcasters are in, i.e. the situation of each broadcaster is different and thus, there is no universal way to approach the problem with the P2P solution (Viblast bPDN). The cases will point out when is best to add P2P layer to your delivery solution and when you don’t really need it or it simply wouldn’t work.


Each case is defined based on two criteria:

  • number of viewers watching the stream

  • their geographical dispersion.


Case One: Broadcasters who do not have a large number of subscribers.

They don’t need a P2P solution. Because they don’t really have any streaming problems concerning bandwidth insufficiency, video quality, or service outages.


Broadcasters who have a lot of subscribers form the more interesting cases as they are in great need of the optimization that the P2P approach can provide.


Case Two: Broadcasters who have a lot of subscribers and their viewers are not too much topologically dispersed.

In this case, the network optimization is incredibly good, because the peers form a large number of good connections among each other and the principle “the more, the merrier” is completely applicable! The more peers are watching the stream, the more resources they share among each other and the bigger the CDN offload is. The quality of the video and the QoE are significantly improved and the Viblast bPDN algorithm is working at its full potential.


Case Three: Broadcasters who have a lot of subscribers but they are too much topologically dispersed.

Even though the number of viewers is high, the optimization in this case cannot be too good. For comparison, in case two we were talking about a 50 to 60% network offload. In this scenario, the optimization can be maximum 15%. So, the P2P approach works and the solution is applicable but it could not work as well as if the viewers were part of a closed network which topology is known, or, as it was in case two - if they were simply closer to each other.


If you found this interesting, wait until you see how the Viblast PDN algorithm for enterprises - Viblast ePDN - works! See how the P2P approach works in a different scenario and in what way it addresses the problems big corporations face when it comes to internal live video streaming services. Why can’t the implementation for broadcasters work well for enterprises and vice versa? Read this and more in the conclusive article of the Viblast PDN series!