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82 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | MARCH/APRIL 2014 TECHNOLOGY Caching popular content is a necessary strategy for service providers aiming to avoid congestion in their networks. Building an Ecosystem For Content Delivery An open framework for CDN collaboration can help service providers deliver content efciently without losing control of their networks. By Masha Zager / Broadband Communities D elivering content efciently has challenged Internet service providers ever since the earliest days of the Internet. Unlike traditional pay TV, Internet content is unicast – that is, each user request for content generates a separate response, even if thousands of users make the same request at the same time. Tis is true not only for video but also for software, online courses, photos, audio and all other types of content. Heavy trafc can congest networks and degrade user experience. In addition, service providers must usually pay to carry trafc that originates outside their networks unless they have peering agreements with the originating networks. Larger providers are more likely than smaller providers to have peering agreements, but most providers pay something for transit. Even though transit prices are falling, customers download more content each year, so service providers try to keep as much trafc inside their own networks as possible. Content delivery networks (CDNs), which store copies of popular content at multiple locations, help service providers mitigate these problems. With CDN servers in their networks, service providers can reduce the amount of bandwidth entering their networks and improve user experience at the same time. Several CDN strategies are available. Service providers can allow content providers (Netfix, for example) to place servers in their networks. Tey can allow third parties paid by multiple content providers (Akamai, for example) to place servers in their networks. Or they can build their own CDNs. Now a hybrid approach is gaining traction – a combination of service provider–owned and third-party CDNs. An example is the Content Service Extension initiative begun by PeerApp, a company that develops caching platforms for service providers. PeerApp's initiative, which has been joined by two leading third-party CDNs, EdgeCast and Limelight, allows third-party CDNs to extend their reach by connecting to service provider–owned caching infrastructure that uses PeerApp servers. (EdgeCast is now being acquired by Verizon.) Trough an open-network application programming interface, operators ofer third- party CDNs access to cache control, quality of service, resource management, reporting and other capabilities. Operators beneft by having a scalable, open alternative to "black box" private caches that are dedicated to and controlled by a single OTT provider. BBC_Mar14.indd 82 3/14/14 3:22 PM