Openwave Mobility 2018 predictions - The fightback begins:

Oops... Something broke.

Openwave Mobility, the market leader in mobile data traffic management solutions, today released its predictions for 2018. The forecasts are based on two major pieces of analysis from Openwave Mobility in 2017. The Mobile Video Index (MVI) is based on live data gathered from over 30 global mobile operators and summarizes the state of play in mobile video. The NFV Playbook was based on NFV trials and deployments with insight from leading industry analysts.

2018 could be make or break for operator QoE
John Giere, President and CEO: What was your favorite show of 2017? The Handmaid’s Tale? Game of Thrones? In 2017 alone, it is estimated that nearly 500 TV series were produced. But “TV” series are increasingly being watched on mobile – and operators are struggling to cope. In 2017 nearly 40 percent of all mobile video traffic was HD. HD requires 3-4x more bandwidth than standard video and this is stretching some networks to breaking point.

In 2018, we forecast HD to reach 50 per cent of mobile video traffic. Subscribers now say that mobile video quality is more important than voice calls and yet mobile data revenues are under attack from…you guessed it….OTT players like Netflix, Amazon, Google and Facebook. 2018 is a make or break year for mobile QoE. Forward looking operators have started the fightback to take control of their networks and subscribers.

Going, going gone – mobile operators in the dark
Indranil Chatterjee, SVP of Products, Sales & Marketing: Encryption protocols from Google, Facebook and others continue to darken mobile networks for mobile operators – and operators can’t manage what they can’t see with conventional traffic management technology. To get a feel for the sheer scale of this growth consider Google QUIC. QUIC has grown at an astonishing CAGR of 284%. Nobody saw this coming.

Based on this, in 2018, we predict that 90% of internet traffic will go dark for operators. Google QUIC will be 32% of global internet traffic. This is another nail in the coffin for operator’s ability to manage subscriber QoE unless they take proactive steps.

NFV: Reality dawns
Matt Halligan, Chief Technology Officer: Our research in 2017 revealed strengths and weaknesses in mobile operator NFV strategies. On a positive, AT&T’s initiative with Open Source software and clear objectives tied to annual bonuses provided inspiration to a number of other operators. But on the negative, some operators have misaligned the financial and business case for NFV. For example, the majority of an operator’s budget, typically 80-90%, is still Capital Expenditure. This is fundamentally misaligned with the very DNA of a cloud model, which is a pure Operational Expenditure. This is a cultural issue and we anticipate tough conversations between finance and operations groups to continue in 2018. Additionally, some operators risk crippling their NFV strategy before it gets off the ground, by creating vendor lock-ins and technology siloes. Ironically these are some of the very problems NFV was set up to resolve.

From our observations successful operators appear to spend 70% on VNFs and 30% on NFV infrastructure. We expect that to continue.

The X factor for Security
Aman Brar, VP, SDM & Global Alliances: The iPhone X created a buzz when it introduced the world to facial recognition. Rather than allowing OTTs such as Google and Apple to ‘own’ subscriber identity and security, mobile operators have been working with industry initiatives such as GSMA Mobile Connect on authentication platforms. Yet, OTT data encryption has impacted this too. Header Enrichment, a security identification method used by operators, does not work with secure traffic. New technologies able to manage encrypted data are turning the tide for operators.

In 2018, a handful of forward thinking operators will start to use identity and security mechanisms to alleviate the headache of remembering usernames and passwords. Our research conducted in 2017 in the US and Europe found that 76% of subscribers want help from mobile operators to offer them single sign-ins for apps and services – to make life easy.

The outlook for 2018: A tale of two halves?
John Giere, President and CEO concludes: The continuing convergence of media and communications presents phenomenal opportunities. Success will be defined by how mobile operators manage and navigate their mobile data, which has once again grown 100 percent year-on-year. A key challenge is that video accounts for 76 percent of that growth. There’s also a dramatic shift in the cloud, as an increasing amount of network traffic is getting delivered via NFV, and 92% of network traffic will be delivered via the cloud by 2020.

Given these trends, mobile operators require a unified identity profile for each subscriber. This would take into account the subscriber's requirements and ensure they receive the best possible QoE however and wherever they consume media. This puts the operator on the best possible footing for 2018 to monetize their data and sustain this virtuous cycle of mobile video and cloud.