One of the hottest areas in broadband is the move toward edge computing. One key driver is the need to minimize cloud latency to match the low latency of 5G networks to support near real-time applications. And as an announcement from Verizon and Disney about Open Caching today illustrates, another driver is to further minimize latency for content providers by moving caching closer to the edge.
Verizon said it already has begun testing advanced content caching technology on its Fios fiber broadband network that will improve the experience for customers streaming Disney+ content. In recent months, Verizon and Disney have collaborated on a trial using Verizon’s new Open Caching platform.
Using that platform, the most requested streaming video content is stored in network facilities close to the customer which, according to Verizon results in “content starting faster, while also reducing freezing, pausing or playback failures during streaming.”
Caching has played a key role in content delivery networks for about 20 years as a means of reducing latency by reducing the distance content has to travel to reach end users. The idea behind Verizon’s Open Caching platform is to further reduce latency by moving the caching capability even closer to the customer.
According to today’s press release, the trial has confirmed that this approach provides faster start times for content, smoother streaming and less buffering.
Verizon Open Caching
In response to an inquiry from Telecompetitor, a Verizon spokesperson said in an email that the caching capability supporting the Disney+ trial is located in Verizon central offices – a logical choice considering that Fios service is distributed from the same offices.
While, in concept, this sounds a lot like what Verizon is doing to support its Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) offering, the spokesperson noted that “the MEC infrastructure, though similar, is housed in wireless infrastructure locations.”
Today’s press release notes, though, that open caching for wireless customers is currently under development. Verizon adds that “[w]ith the virtualization built into the wireless network and server space on the edge of the network developed over the past few years,” the company’s wireless network is well positioned to support open caching as well.
Verizon Open Caching is based on specifications developed by the Streaming Video Alliance, a global association focused on solving technical streaming challenges to deliver high-quality video at scale.
While continuing the trial with Disney, Verizon said it is also talking with other content providers including news organizations, gaming companies and other entertainment providers to use open caching technology to deliver their most popular content to Verizon customers.