HD streaming takes up 38% of wireless traffic, says study

LG UHD TV

As consumers turn to their mobile phones to access OTT video content, the growing availability of high definition (HD) quality content is taking a more prominent role in overall mobile video traffic.

A new Openwave Mobility report revealed that 38% of all mobile video traffic globally is now HD—exceeding mobile operator expectations.

What’s compelling about this trend is that it’s up from only 5.7% four years ago. It is expected that HD video will reach about 50% of video traffic by the end of next year, reflecting the popularity of OTT streaming video services such as YouTube and Netflix on mobile devices.

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Over 820 million consumers worldwide watch YouTube and Netflix from their mobile devices.

Openwave Mobility’s research is based on analysis of data aggregated from the company’s live deployments in more than 30 mobile operators around the globe between 2013 to 2017. The findings are part of Openwave Mobility’s Mobile Video Index report which looked at the impact of mobile video, Quality of Experience (QoE) and OTT encryption.

Openwave Mobility
Openwave Mobility HD video trends

Interestingly, the report revealed that 75% of all mobile traffic is now encrypted and this is stifling the mobile operator’s ability to maintain subscriber Quality of Experience (QoE). This is because encryption protocols prevent operators from being able to profile or optimize data using conventional traffic management tools.

John Giere, CEO of Openwave Mobility, said in a release that customers increasingly want a similar user video experience when they access content from their mobile smartphone or tablet.

“As users get accustomed to HD quality at home, they expect the same QoE on mobile,” Giere said. “Whether binge watching Stranger Things 2 or ogling over cute pets, subscribers find mobile video more important than voice calls. That’s why QoE is a deal-breaker.”

UDP-based encryption has also grown faster than initially forecast. The emergence of Google’s QUIC protocol threatens to outpace anything the industry has seen so far. Since QUIC was introduced two years ago, it has grown at a CAGR of 284%. Openwave Mobility has forecast that by November 2018, approximately 90% of all mobile internet traffic will be encrypted.