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Announcing the 2010 Cisco VNI Usage Study Findings

Few things get me as fired up about this industry as being able to dive into some serious data about, well, data. By now, most of our readership is quite familiar with our Cisco Visual Networking Index study or VNI. It’s comprised of several separate efforts, with the VNI Forecast being the best known of the bunch and the one that is most often quoted in the media, used by regulators, and factored into architectural plans by our customers. The Forecast is, as its name conveys, offers a forward looking view. Using third party subscription growth forecasts and advanced modeling techniques, we deliver an estimate of the amount of traffic that will be crossing global IP networks over the next half decade.

But what is real traffic looking like now, you ask?

For that, we have the Cisco VNI Usage study – unlike the Forecast, which uses third-party subscription growth inputs, VNI Usage assess the activity taking place over networks every day.  It’s a compilation of anonymous data sourced from millions of broadband subscriber lines from over 20 service providers worldwide.  While we don’t know the names of the user or the specific content viewed, this unique, primary data does provide subscriber-level insights into a variety of factors such as: the type of applications used; when and how much bandwidth is consumed; and a context for the networking trends and challenges that many network operators are grappling with today.  It’s real data on data that’s real interesting (and you can quote me on that).  Over a series of several posts this week, I’ll dive into details of the Cisco VNI Usage study that was just released this week and covers the research period of the third calendar quarter of 2010.

Here are some top takeaways:

  • The average broadband connection generates 14.9 GB of Internet traffic per month, up from 11.4 GB per month last year when we ran this same study – this is an increase of 31 percent when averaged out across the global subscriber base.
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing is now 25 percent of global broadband traffic – last year it was 38 percent of total traffic.  It’s important to know that despite this significant drop in percentage, the overall about to traffic generated by P2P in absolute terms is still growing – it’s just growing more slowly than visual networking and other advanced applications such as online video.  Which leads me to…

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Working Together to Attain MPLS-TP Interoperability

IP services are dominating overall network traffic growth and service providers are now truly architecting a transition from legacy Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) networks to packet transport networks. It’s no longer a question of if, but when. The Transport Profile for MPLS or MPLS-TP is the packet transport technology of choice, marrying the efficiency and flexibility of packet with the robust characteristics of a traditional transport network.  The telecommunications industry has embraced this emerging standard, mainly because it is subset of and interoperable with widely deployed IP/MPLS technology. To ensure this interoperability, it was collectively decided by both the ITU-T and IETF that the IETF will be responsible to define the protocol and functionality of MPLS-TP. The embeded spreadsheet specifies which RFCs have been completed and which contributions have been accepted and are in progress as Working Group drafts.

This vision is finally coming to fruition. For the first time since its inception, a standards-based interoperability test for MPLS-TP was conducted by Isocore. The results of this interoperability test were announced this week and demonstrate to the market the reality of a true MPLS-TP standard and that the vendor community is following and adopting this standard.  The interoperability focused on showing how systems from multiple vendors can work together while enabling transport-like characteristics such as statically provisioned paths, protection switching, in band OAM and OAM verification. All of the capabilities tested have been defined in RFC 5860, RFC 5654, RFC 5586 and RFC 5921 which are currently published standards from the IETF.

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SCTE 2010: What is Cable’s Path to ROI with IP-Delivered Services?

In this brief video discussion, Cisco’s Director of Video Solutions Marketing, Murali Nemani talks candidly about “what’s in it for cable” to deliver a suite of IP video services. In his view, it’s a three-step process that’s already beginning.

First, sending video services over bonded DOCSIS channels means pursuing the only path to those 15 billion video-hungry, IP-enabled end points which analysts predict will be present at the end points of the broadband network within 5 years. Whether “managed” (by the cable operator, such as cable modems and set-tops) or “unmanaged” (purchased by consumers), those IP end points will be seeking video over broadband.

Second, the continued attention and investment in DOCSIS 3.0 rollouts will help fend off competitive broadband “speed wars” while laying the foundation for video delivered over IP. Cable operators have the plant capacity, spectrum, and scale to reach an unprecedented footprint of IP end devices.

Lastly, cable’s continued work on the “video back end,” from content delivery networks (CDNs) to set-tops and next-generation gateways, will help the industry permeate the IP video marketplace and drive adoption across the U.S.

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The Intelligent Mobile IP Network: The Engine for Profitability

Contributed by Ash Dahod, Cisco SVP/GM of the Mobile Internet Technology Group

Mobile communications are expanding rapidly, and this is changing the way we all work, live and entertain. We are now truly able to stay connected virtually anywhere, anytime. The market and its associated technological advancements are moving very quickly and this was even more apparent as I met with customers, partners and colleagues at 4G World in Chicago.

We are all aware of the Mobile Internet tidal wave that is upon us and a lot of the talk at the show was how we can prepare for this next wave of technical advancements.  Additionally, what was on most of our minds was how we can do this profitably.

I had the opportunity to speak at the conference and shared some thoughts on how the right network with the right combination of performance and intelligence will drive mobile operator profitability.

In the simplest form, we have to change the way we are looking at the market from a technical and business point of view.

We need to look at profitability and the ways we will address revenue and expense. Intelligence will be central to our new business models, new revenue streams and the efficiency of the network. From this perspective, we see that we need to increase the investment in network intelligence.

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SCTE 2010: How Cable Can Lead in the IP Transition

In this brief video discussion, Kip Compton, Director and General Manager of the Video Content Platforms Business Unit for Cisco, hits upon a topic that’s top of mind for lots of people at this week’s SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in New Orleans: What it will take for the cable television industry to extend its lead in IP to its core business – video.

If IP video is about delivering a great user experience across a lot of devices, cable’s getting there. If it’s about extending the reach of today’s premium bundles, integrating content from the Internet onto the TV – without having to pay multiple providers or getting locked in to multiple set-tops – then cable isn’t just “getting there” – it’s in a truly great competitive position.

Why? People want video mobility and a great user experience, with better search and usability. They don’t necessarily want it, though, from six or 10 different sources.

Cable television is a unique mix of broadband network reach and content aggregation. As the industry turns up the heat on its transition to delivering more video services over DOCSIS, it is supremely positioned to succeed. Read More »

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