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Friday, March 26, 2010

Nokia acquisition of Novarra - fragmentation of optimisation?

Very interesting to see Nokia's acquisition of web/video optimisation & transcoding vendor Novarra, which has been quite widely deployed in operators looking to reduce data traffic sent over mobile networks.

The fascinating thing for me is that it's being pitched as a way to optimise web browsing on low-end Series 40 devices - in other words, it's *not* primarily about reduction in outright traffic levels for operators, which are dominated by laptops & top-end smartphones.

The other stand-out is that the acquisition is by *Nokia* and not NSN.

I've been giving a lot of thought recently to various ways to optimise / compress / offload / policy-manage mobile broadband networks, trying to work out a way of reconciling the different options available to operators.

As part of this, I've been looking at the approaches to transcoding and proxying of web traffic - either in centralised boxes from Novarra or peers like ByteMobile and Flash networks - or by specific client/server implementations like RIM's NOC for BlackBerry Internet traffic, or the Opera Mini platform.

My view is that there will be no "one size fits all" approach to traffic management, and that operators will have to be smart about treating different use cases in different ways. This is less about treating traffic differently on a per-application basis, and more about device/business model/customer scenario segmentation.

My current thinking is that laptop traffic will probably be offloaded close to the edge of the network, especially with WiFi, or femtocells once it's easier to use techniques like SIPTO or Direct Tunnel to avoid congesting the mobile core with traffic that is 99.99% destined for the wider Internet.

Smartphone traffic will be part-offloaded, and part-optimised or policy-planned.

And, based on this acquisition, it increasingly looks like featurephone traffic will be optimised at the application level.

In addition, there are likely to be a range of general capacity improvements and efficiency gains in the RAN, backhaul and elsewhere - dealing both with total traffic volumes and signalling load.

More on this topic to come...

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