Viettel’s OTT services among platforms over-driven on World Cup live streams

Vietnamese football fans are complaining about technical issues while streaming World Cup 2018 matches via set-top box devices.

Mr. Vu Trung in Co Nhue ward, Bac Tu Liem district, Hanoi complained that his Internet TV began to freeze and could only lag after a World Cup match started for a couple of minutes. These issues really discomforted all his family members .

Sharing Trung's situation, Mr. Nguyen Duc Phuong in Hai Ba Trung district, Hanoi, lamented that he bought a set-top box device to watch movies and television programs. However, when he watched World Cup games via this device, he found out that signals were much slower than those in the normal cable television. Trung and Phuong were two among many people experiencing poor quality of streaming services in Hanoi during this World Cup season.

Today, WiFi and 4G connections have become so popular for watching football games via their smartphones, tablets or laptops. However, customers have not really felt satisfied with services of local suppliers because of unstable speed mobile networks.

At present, there are two television services in Vietnam: Over-The-Top (OTT)-based service and Internet Protocol TV (IPTV)-based service. Regarding operation principle, IPTV uses the Multicast mechanism, while OTT uses Unicast.

The OTT television service operates on OTT technology. Users only need to have a set-top-box device connected with their TVs, smartphones, tablets to watch television programs and VOD (video on demand) catalog everywhere at any time via the Internet.

The biggest disadvantage of OTT is that the service's quality totally depends on the Internet traffic. Thus, a hike in viewership at the same time to a television program could lead to lags and connection losses. Similar issues were experienced by viewers on their FPT Play, Smart box, ViettelTV, ClipTV platforms at the opening match of the World Cup 2018 on June 14.

Particularly, as for the Unicast mechanism of the OTT service, each user will occupies a separate bandwidth that connects with streaming servers of the Content Delivery Network (CDN).

Each mobile service company in Vietnam now has a system of distributed servers with bandwidth capacity ranging between 300Gbps and 400Gbps. Hence, the telecom providers can only serve concurrently 60,000-80,000 users when subscribers watch a Full HD (1080p) stream at 5Mbps, and around 120,000-160,000 users for HD (720p) video quality at 2.5Mbps.

Another reason is that the OTT service uses the Internet transmission cable lines, that it is not prioritized for bandwidths. As a result, traffic could be delayed unintentionally due to signal congestion on these lines.

Meanwhile, IPTV is the delivery of television content using Internet Protocol (IP) networks over the Internet. This service provides television programs and VOD via a digital-to-analogue converter or DAC (known as a television box) connected with a TV. However, this service is only available through a private, dedicated network. This is the primary difference between IPTV and OTT.

As its content is delivered by an Internet service provider's own infrastructure, IPTV can serve an unlimited number of users and broadcast high-quality videos. In other words, Vietnamese football fans are able to use IPTV service to watch live events like World Cup 2018 without interruptions.

Because IPTV requires devices to be connected via a broadband cable based connection, popular IPTV services in Vietnam are provided by local mobile service suppliers: FPT TV (by the Financing and Promoting Technology Corporation - FPT), MyTV (by the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group - VNPT), and NextTV (by the Military Industry-Telecoms Group - Viettel). And the contents of IPTV and OTT television services of the same television providers may vary depending on the mobile service suppliers.

Deputy General Director of VNPT Media Corporation Nguyen Van Tan said that up to this time, their MyTV service has quadrupled its Internet connection bandwidth. The number of MyTV customers increased day by day after the World Cup 2018 started officially. Though the company had mapped out plans ahead of the event, the surge in traffic exceeded the provider's expectation. Up to 50 times the usual traffic and four to five times against the expectation were recorded during peak hours or some football matches.

Tan added that the number of football fans using MyTV soared suddenly because it offered free service, while other suppliers charged for similar services. Another reason is that when other mobile service companies' television services are overloaded or even disconnected, viewers will flock into MyTV. Meanwhile, the VNPT Media Corporation still want to maintain MyTV's high-quality videos to serve its audiences. These above-mentioned issues sometimes caused the service overcharged.

Due to the sudden increase in the number of users during the World Cup season, VNPT upgraded their servers to beef up its network capacity. From June 19, MyTV's video quality was improved and the service could serve a large number of viewers watching at the same time.

IT specialists suggested that customers should select television services in accordance with their demands.

If they want to watch television service of a supplier via the Internet connection provided by another one, they can buy OTT-based television devices such as FPT Play Box, VNPT Smart Box, Viettel's XMIO Box, and Vega Group's ClipTV Box.

Meanwhile, if they need more stable signals for television services, they should choose IPTV-based television devices including FPT TV, MyTV, and NextTV.

Source: People's Army Newspaper