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AT&T’s content delivery service relies on caching and acceleration technologies

Carrier exec explains the differences

AT&T’s new content delivery service, announced this week, relies on a mixture of caching and content acceleration technology. In an interview with Connected Planet, Joe Lueckenhoff, AT&T senior vice president of business product management, explained how each technology functions.

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The new offering, dubbed AT&T Content Delivery Network, targets web site operators and aims to reduce the time it takes for web page content such as images, videos and product information, to be delivered.

“The benefit to the content provider is that this is cloud-based,” Lueckenhoff said. “It’s a richer easier more cost-effective way to use content delivery.”

Lueckenhoff cited research showing that the average customer gives up if a web site is not refreshed in six seconds or less. The AT&T service is designed to help ensure that does not occur.

Caching vs. content acceleration
Both caching and content acceleration minimize the time required to deliver content by storing some of a web site operator’s content closer to end users. But as Lueckenhoff explained, “content acceleration is more dynamic and specific to end user needs.”

While caching technology might make an identical video available at all of a network operator’s content distribution nodes, content acceleration technology makes different content available at different distribution nodes based on content demand. Lueckenhoff pointed to the example of AccuWeather, an AT&T CDN customer that uses content acceleration technology to make weather information for a specific area available from the network operator’s node in that area.

End users increasingly are using mobile devices to access the Internet—and AT&T’s new CDN offering also has capabilities designed to accelerate content delivery for mobile Internet users. “In the mobile environment, you have to know the operating system of the mobile device,” said Lueckenhoff.

AT&T’s content delivery service has the ability to recognize various mobile operating systems such as Rim, Apple, Android and Microsoft and render content in a form optimized for use with that operating system, Lueckenhoff said. As a result, he said, a content provider using AT&T’s CDN service should be able to deliver screen updates 30% to 60% faster than if the CDN service were not used.

Lueckenhoff also noted another indirect benefit of using AT&T for CDN services. Because of its own base of wireline and wireless Internet users, AT&T has the “largest number of eyeballs of any CDN provider in the world,” Lueckenhoff said.

Downplaying Net Neutrality concerns
On the surface, CDN services—which involve content owners paying extra to have better content delivery to end users—sounds like the sort of thing Net Neutrality advocates might get upset about. But Lueckenhoff said the new CDN was “passed through all of our regulatory assessments.”

He added that AT&T is only one of several companies offering content delivery services (CP: Commoditized CDN offerings sprout)—and those other CDN providers have not run into Net Neutrality-related difficulties.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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