ABI Research (News - Alert) says end-to-end encryption eliminated nearly 60 percent of the video and audio optimization market in 2015. Another week, another "It's doom" story for the Internet? Streaming media encryption of audio and video is certainly on the rise, between the desire for private phone calls and content providers wanting to ensure quality rather than a stepped-on product because of a service provider's "optimization." I'm thinking we're more into a ying/yang cycle, with the current surge in end-to-end encryption awaiting collaboration between service providers and vendors to provide bandwidth optimization.
The surge in end-to-end encryption is well documented, with WhatsApp already turning the feature on for messaging voice and presumably having end-to-end turned on for its forthcoming video calling rollout. Facebook (News - Alert) Messenger is expected to roll out end-to-end encryption in the coming months and Google's new Duo mobile video calling app coming this summer will have encryption turned on out of the box. Netflix moved to encrypt customer streams last year using HTTPS to ensure privacy for their customers. Using end-to-end encryption ensures what customers are watching stays secret.
But there's rarely a free lunch, especially when it comes to network engineering. Encryption clobbers deep packet inspection (DPI) tools that both gather information about what people do on line and optimize traffic flows by assigning priority to real time and streaming audio and video. If a service provider can't tell if a session is a phone call or someone binge watching season two of Daredevil, the service provider is left to shoveling bits as fast as it can without the ability to try to delivery higher priority to voice and video.
Caching solutions that rely on DPI and other tricks are also left high and dry for the same reason. Being able to delivery and mirror popular content closer to the edge of the network translates to faster service for the customer at the edge and a reduction in bandwidth both within the service provider's network and between the service provider and content provider. But you can't intelligently cache if you don't know what people are viewing. Encryption ensures privacy for the individual but at the expense of network efficiency, a cost that may affect the individual's quality of service when conducting real time communications along with on-demand audio and video streaming.
ABI predicts 85 percent of mobile broadband traffic to be encrypted, optimistically viewing opportunities in the 15 percent that is not. Telecom operators are left -- or stuck -- with trying to manage mobile data traffic without the ability in the short term to figure out what needs to be treated as a speedy (real time) bit or that can be cached for better network performance.
In the longer run, it will behoove carriers, content providers, and network vendors to develop and deploy solutions to provide the privacy customers are coming to expect and the performance customers demand. Already Facebook and Google (News - Alert) are presenting a choice to users between opting-in for absolute security via end-to-end encryption or leaving encryption off to enable machine learning tools to read content and provide enhanced recommendations for everything from "better" (well, more appropriate) in-page advertising to chat-bot services providing ease of use.
If the ad bot or AI can't read your communication, it can't "help" you. Some users might prefer not to have assistance from an AI Big Brother, but others will become quickly annoyed at advertising that they have no interest in.
Media encryption also provides a new opportunity for vendors to create tools to manage such traffic. Exactly how such tools will work and look like is unknown, but carriers will be among the first to buy.
Edited by Maurice Nagle