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Telcos scramble to maximize bandwidth to meet rising OTT usage demand, says IMS Research

The popularity of free over-the-top video, OTT subscription services and the coming onslaught of Internet-connected video devices has sent telcos scrambling to meet growing demand for bandwidth, says new findings from IMS Research.

According to the research firm, last year peak bandwidth use was 44 percent of capacity, and bandwidth use per household is expected to grow by more than 50 percent between 2010 and 2015.

Recognizing the increasing demand for bandwidth, telcos are actively seeking ways to optimize it, says IMS Research analyst John Kendal. “OTT is here to stay, and the telcos have accepted that,” he says.

While fiber to the home offers a solution, it is prohibitively expensive and takes time to deploy, according to a recent report from Kendal. To maximize their legacy infrastructure to meet growing bandwidth demand, they are looking at cost-effective solutions, such as reducing crosstalk across bonded copper pairs using the ITU-T G.vector standard, turning to software to maximize network logistics, and using caching in the network. Local content delivery networks are also being considered to keep traffic local and hold down costs.

"In countries like France, where IPTV has been a great success, ADSL can be leveraged effectively due to shorter loop lines,” Kendal adds. “In France in 2010, peak potential bandwidth demand sat at just over 37 percent of network capacity. However, by 2015, that number will jump to nearly 60 percent, mainly due OTT and multiscreen video. In a country with pronounced OTT content demand like the United States, average data usage by an IPTV household will rise to nearly 25Mb/s in 2015, up from the current 19Mb/s. While the increase may not seem significant, IPTV households are expected to double, creating a need to address possible congestion issues.”

The most acute bandwidth congestion, however, will present itself where there is lower broadband penetration and longer loop lines. IMS Research identifies Eastern European and Latin American DSL as being more likely to struggle with video-generated congestion