How System73’s solutions help content providers and broadcasters achieve low latency

In the competitive world of live streaming, low latency has never been a greater concern than it is today. For better or worse, consumer expectations have shifted to prioritize immediacy.

Latency, defined as the lag between the content leaving the streaming source and it arriving at the end user’s device, has various causes and can manifest in different ways such as buffering and reduced on-screen video quality. System73’s cutting-edge solution, Edge Intelligence, is capable of helping content providers and broadcasters achieve impressively low latency and enhance quality of experience (QoE) for viewers around the world. 

This article takes a deeper dive into the concept of latency and explores how Edge Intelligence is instrumental in helping many content providers achieve low latency, enhance QoE, and ultimately increase viewer satisfaction.

Understanding low latency and ultra-low latency

In the context of content delivery, latency refers to the time it takes for content to be displayed on the end user’s screen after being released into the network by the content provider, also known as glass-to-glass (G2G) latency or end-to-end (E2E) latency. Increased latency may be caused by several factors, including network congestion at the CDN, encoding techniques and transmission protocols. The goal therefore, and where System73 can help, is to reduce this latency as much as possible by mitigating or even eliminating the above-mentioned risk factors involved in last-mile delivery of the content.

Concerning the difference between low and ultra-low latency, there are several definitions depending on the target application and considered threshold. In general, low latency is commonly considered to be achieved when the G2G latency is lower than 5 seconds. Ultra-low latency, or real-time latency, further reduces this delivery time, aiming for the minimal possible delay between content production and delivery. This is particularly crucial for real-time applications such as video conferencing and gaming, where responsiveness needs to be under one second.

By leveraging our Edge Intelligence solution, content providers can drastically reduce the time it takes to deliver live content delivered to end user devices by creating a unique content delivery tree powered by peer-to-peer (P2P) connections. This tree mimics the behavior of traditional broadcasting systems that fan out content across a physical network, but achieves substantial benefits, such as increased delivery speed and scope.

How Edge Intelligence helps content providers and broadcasters achieve low latency 

If content providers go it alone, achieving low latency can be an expensive endeavor involving significant investment in high-performance hardware, networking equipment and potentially expensive storage solutions. Managing and maintaining low-latency systems can also increase operational complexity, with the need for highly-skilled engineers and sophisticated management solutions that all come at a price. 

However, as we mentioned above, System73 has already created an intelligent solution that is helping content providers around the globe achieve low latency at scale, increasing the value of the content delivery workflows. Edge Intelligence, our AI based solution, works by creating a content delivery tree that leverages end-user P2P connections to share content across the network of viewers. In other words, instead of all end users being connected to a single CDN to receive content, they receive the content from other users already connected to the CDN. This creates a progressive content delivery network.

As far as low latency is concerned, Edge Intelligence offers several advantages. First, by reducing the number of end users connected to the CDN, the risk of congestion, and by consequence, slower response times, are mitigated. Second, the Edge Intelligence network anticipates content playback requests from the content source by propagating the discovery of media assets across the network, which reduces the risk of wait times and buffering events. Third, this solution offers organic and efficient scalability to support the largest events around the world. Edge Intelligence is able to leverage the P2P network to anticipate and favor content synchronization, which greatly reduces the risk of buffering and ensures all end users enjoy seamless video no matter their place in the content delivery tree. 

As end user players request segments of live video from the content source, Edge Intelligence delivers content across the tree network topology progressively. Edge Intelligence sends the most recent video segment to all end users as soon as it is requested by the first device to discover the content. In this way, individual user devices have the media assets available in the device cache before the video player needs them. This immediacy dramatically reduces the risk of wait times and buffering to enhance overall QoE and viewer satisfaction.

The future of Edge Intelligence

Nowadays, one of the most relevant challenges in the media delivery industry is solving the distribution of live streaming events at scale with ultra low latency requirements, which implies effectively breaking the one-second barrier while keeping the key benefits of traditional content delivery networks such as compatibility with caching mechanisms, ad-insertion, DRM and other content protection mechanisms.

System73 is committed to integrating solutions that will enable our customers to achieve ultra-low latency at scale with solutions tailored for each use case. While WebRTC is the standard for delivering real-time live streams, distribution at scale is today both expensive and missing some desirable features. As previously mentioned, System73 understands ultra-low latency as breaking the one-second latency barrier and achieving split-second responsiveness.

As soon as other techologies such as Media Over QUIC (moq) appear and mature, System73 will continue working towards offering solutions that could help significantly reduce latency for applications such as live streaming, gaming and media conferencing, as well as permitting even more efficient scalability.

The cumulative benefits of Edge Analytics 

In order to enable such intelligent decision-making, System73 needs to be able to see and analyze the content provider’s network. As such, all System73 solutions are based on the advanced and precise network visibility offered by our complementary solution, Edge Analytics. 

Content providers and broadcasting services can leverage Edge Analytics to see what is going on under the hood, especially when it comes to last-mile delivery. It provides customers with the visibility they need to understand the origin of issues hidden within ‘the open internet’ where congestion occurs. This real-time information, which is updated every second, allows them to take proactive steps toward achieving optimal and stable QoE for all viewers.

In short, with great visibility comes great power. Customers are able to anticipate bottlenecks, assess encoding requirements and monitor the performance of CDNs and ISPs, all of which can lead to more efficient troubleshooting processes and greater overall customer satisfaction.

In the competitive landscape of live streaming, System73's Edge Intelligence leverages peer-to-peer connections in order to minimize CDN congestion, mitigate buffering and enhance overall QoE. With the added benefit of Edge Analytics, content providers and broadcasters achieve unparalleled network visibility, allowing them to proactively identify and address issues, such as poor CDN performance, and optimize content delivery speeds.

As System73 further explores advanced protocols, our aim is to break through the one-second barrier and offer our customers lightning fast, ultra-low latency, as an increasingly critical benefit in the demanding world of live streaming.

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