To get a feel for what happens technically, imagine that you’re watching a streaming video on a cell phone while in a train moving toward the edge of the phone carrier’s cell. Normally, the video would start jerking, flashing, or just disappearing altogether.
The Ortiva system, however, would notice that bandwidth is decreasing, and change the streaming rate, the frame compression, and the types of frames delivered so that the video would not be interrupted. Furthermore, using techniques that favor the parts of the image that the human brain focuses (because of the speed of movement, etc.) Ortiva can minimize the effects of the degradation on the user’s experience.
DeWayne Nelon, President and CEO of Ortiva Wireless, says the choices it makes for traffic shaping are multi-faceted and sophisticated. For instance, moving to the edge of the cell is a condition where there’s relatively low bandwidth but congestion is not a factor. In a different circumstance where congestion is high but bandwidth is still reasonably good (such as when many people try to contact the cell tower at the same time) Ortiva’s content delivery network might switch to sending fewer frames, but more primary ones. This would combat the effects of dropped frames due to congestion.
They are working to add more solutions in terms of how they handle status packets, error correction, and other features of streaming protocols.
Ortiva is entirely standards-based. It collects real-time information about the status of the network through the Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP), which all carriers use, and which delivers a status update once every four seconds. According to Nelon, Ortiva has simply figured out how to draw more useful conclusions in its resource monitor from the data offered by RTSP, and how to apply smarter responses to solve the problems they learn about. Ortiva can also work with input in all the popular audio and video formats, and communication with popular standard protocols.
Ortiva’s traffic shaping allow it to deliver the same quality as some of the competing solutions under conditions that are worse by 10 decibels. Often they can create video-quality effects under conditions that are only voice-quality. In other words, they sometimes eliminate entirely the pockets at the edges of cells where video reception is unfeasible. A side benefit appreciated by carriers is that they reduce network traffic.
As Nelon puts it, many content delivery networks shape traffic based on conditions predicted for the link, but Ortiva’s network bases content shaping on actual conditions as measured in real time.
The significance of Ortiva’s announcement is heightened by the recent announcement by the announcement of News Corp. and NBC Universal that they plan to join together and offer a YouTube-like video site. Content providers definitely want to offer more videos on demand, and cellular carriers want to accommodate them.
The “multicast” architecture used by the separate networks, in contrast to downloading over the regular cellular network with Ortiva, recalls the old dichotomy between broadcast TV and the peer-to-peer Internet, with some familiar themes from the broadcast era thrown in (MediaFLO offers DRM to content providers) and even some echoes of the “two-tier” network that phone companies want to build. Will video downloads lead to a battle over network neutrality on cellular networks?