Draft IEEE standard for intelligent content delivery in mobile networks

It frustrates all of us when the streamed clip we are watching stops because the player’s buffer has just run out. The situation becomes pretty much insufferable when that happens on a mobile device. On the other side of the wireless link, inefficient delivery of content to mobile devices and the resulting poor quality of experience are a pain for mobile operators as well, because their network is congested by the growing user demand for mobile data. Efficiently delivering content to mobile devices is a rather complex problem that necessitates cooperation of several actors in the mobile ecosystem. To this end, Wireless@KTH is running the COSEM project which includes KTH, Ericsson, TeliaSonera as partners, in order to address the quality of experience problems created by the intermittent connectivity and varying data rates experienced by mobile devices.

It is quite interesting to see that the recently founded High Quality Mobile Experience industry group (HQME) also aims to tackle this problem by using caching and intelligent methods to deliver content to mobiles. The HQME industry group includes big names from content, mobile network and hardware industries: SanDisk, SoftBank Mobile, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Orange at the moment. At Mobile World Congress 2011, they announced a proposed industry standard “that leverages local storage and intelligent content caching to relieve network congestion and accelerate data delivery to the mobile device.”

The proposed draft standard IEEE P2200 has been approved by the IEEE Standards Board for development.

Although HQME’s and IEEE’s announcements are echoed in many tech blogs across the net, the particular details of the technology is hard to come by for the time being. The IEEE P2200 draft standard’s web page gives this rather generic description but does not provide any technical documents on the standard yet:

“This standard will define reference architectures and interfaces for intelligently routing and replicating content over heterogeneous networks to portable devices with local storage, without disrupting content providers’ direct relationship with end users.”

The most detailed information is still found in the HQME press release:

“Under the proposed IEEE P2200 standard, memory on the mobile device is viewed as the ‘last node on the network.’ This calls for compliant applications to download content when the mobile device is connected to AC power and Wi-Fi instead of during peak hours the next day. Preemptively downloading content to the device’s local storage allows consumers to access the content they want while circumventing the bottlenecks associated with mobile network congestion during peak hours.”

The concepts proposed in the HQME press release are curiously similar to the ideas championed by the COSEM project researcher Dr. Pietro Lungaro, some of which are published here, here, here and here.

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