Vodafone, Meta optimise short-form videos to improve network efficiency

Almost four years after it first began investigating 5G network slicing in the UK, operator Vodafone is to collaborate with tech giant Meta to investigate methods to free up network capacity for all mobile customers, including allowing them to view more high-quality short videos.

In an initial three-week test conducted in the UK in April 2024, the companies said that they recorded a “meaningful” reduction in network traffic for Meta applications across Vodafone’s mobile network. The operator also freed up additional network resources on some of its most popular 4G/5G sites with the intention that all mobile customers at these busy locations – such as shopping centres and transport hubs – benefitted.

Both Vodafone and Meta said they are open to working with all players in the ecosystem to continuously improve the efficient use of network resources. Together, they will “combine their assets” to support growth in new digital services, keep critical applications free of congestion and save energy in the mobile network.

Within the context of the project, Meta said that it will be focused on building on its existing optimisation and efficiency work by continuing to make improvements in video engineering and infrastructure deployment, to enhance both the user experience and the efficiency of video applications.

“Our relationship with Vodafone is a long-term partnership, and collaboration on video optimisation is an opportunity to drive innovation and shape the future of the internet,” said Meta vice-president of network engineering Gaya Nagarajan.

“We are committed to continuing our collaboration with innovative partners like Vodafone, device manufacturers, equipment vendors and the wider digital ecosystem, to push the boundaries of video optimisation.”

The network optimisation has been applied in eleven European markets since the start of June this year – namely: Albania, Czechia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain and the UK. The level of reduction in network traffic varies based on several factors including network load and end user devices.

Commenting on the partnership and its ambition, Vodafone chief network officer Alberto Ripepi added: “Meta’s willingness to optimise the delivery of video for its applications leads the way for a more efficient use of existing network resources. Vodafone and Meta have implemented these optimisations across Vodafone’s European markets and intend to continue collaborating to foster additional efficiencies.”

The Meta collaboration comes hot on the heel of further network slicing activities by Vodafone. At the recent Glastonbury Festival, the operator said that it successfully completed a network slicing demonstration, offering a dedicated slice of connectivity to EBC, one of the largest beverages vendors at the event, to ensure business operations ran smoothly alongside record data usage.

Glastonbury 2024 brought together 200,000 attendees, with more than 100 stages and almost 1,000 trading stalls, generating 225 TB of data across Vodafone’s network, a year-on-year increase of 33%.

EBC trialled network slicing technology to speed up card transactions, reserving a small portion of the Vodafone network to increase reliability of payment machines on three of its 10 sites. The demonstration connected three sites via a slice, which in total served 102 tills. During peak times, each till processes two transactions a minute.

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