Ex-Cisco and Juniper execs unveil a pre-funded start-up that aims to help carriers cope with the increasing volumes of video traffic. Guy Daniels reports
Video delivery start-up Qwilt has been quietly developing its technology and business plan for the last two years. It’s already raised $24 million from Accel Partners, Redpoint Ventures and other investors (including former RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser), and is now ready to unveil its solution to telcos and ISPs.
According to research from Cisco, video will make up about half of all network traffic next year, rising to 62 per cent by 2015. Networks are already struggling to cope with this rapid increase in data traffic, so how can they re-engineer their networks to handle tomorrow’s even larger volumes? Alon Maor, co-founder and CEO of Qwilt, told Forbes:
“The recent rise of bandwidth-usage caps shows how difficult and costly it is for carriers to deliver sophisticated video services today. Their networks are simply not architected for it. It’s a huge strain on carriers’ networks and it will accelerate by a factor of ten over the next few years.”
Adding more lines, fatter pipes and more routers is one answer, but this starts to get expensive very quickly. The most cost-effective solution, according to Qwilt, is edge caching.
According to Maor, Qwilt’s solution is five times more cost effective than current solutions for ISPs and telcos.
Rather than serve multiple versions of the same content from deep within the telco’s network, a better solution would be to get the most popular content as close as you can to the customer. This means firstly, using proprietary algorithms to identify what’s popular and what’s not (Qwilt has three patents pending), then secondly caching this content at the edge of the network, in sight of the last mile. Bit like an in-house content delivery network then? As Maor says on his website:
“If carriers are going to be part of the video delivery value chain, they need a solution that can work out of the box without prerequisites or inter-dependencies such as content provider agreements. Qwilt’s products allow carriers to create a universal video delivery layer that works transparently, without interruption or changes to content provider or network infrastructures.”
In so doing, says the company, it helps telcos contain the cost of growing online video traffic while keeping their options open for future business models that leverage the video delivery layer.
Serving video streams from closer to the end user should also result in higher quality, as well as helping with the core objective of offloading traffic. According to Maor, telcos could expect to see a reduction in traffic overhead of 60 to 80 per cent, and have less reliance on third-party CDNs such as Akamai. According to Maor:
“We’re looking at a more balanced equilibrium where carriers would be carrying the most of the bulk of video delivery but every entity in the value chain would be sharing the wealth so to speak. That is, carriers, CDNs and content providers in cooperative manner that is not being done (now). Qwilt offers a win-win-win solution for carriers, content providers and, most important, users.”
One win is good, two is a bonus, but three? That’s big talk for a small company. Qwilt only employs about 30 people so far, with its engineering efforts based in Israel. So does this small company have what it takes to solve one of the biggest problems faced by telcos? The company is apparently in talks with around 50 ISPs and is trialling the technology with five of them.
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