Say YES to HTTPS with enhanced mobile user experience

Mobile https

The share of secured mobile data is rising. According to Sandvine’s report for 1H 2014, it is estimated that 30% to 40% of downstream data in North America is delivered in a secure manner. SiliconANGLE’s John Casaretto addresses this Internet traffic security boom, stating that SSL traffic has doubled during the last year and that the share of secured mobile data is expected to grow in the future. The data we are consuming as mobile users is becoming more private. This is a good thing, but not entirely so.

Problematic user experience

There are three major disadvantages that affect the user experience when using mobile https.

The first issue is the HTTPS handshake. In the blog post announcing the default usage of secured browsing, Facebook’s Scott Renfro refers to the problem that a full HTTPS handshake between the terminal and the server adds two segments of roundtrip times. In fixed IP network with CDNs (Content Delivery Network), the round trip times are just few 10s of milliseconds. So, adding two additional segments is quite negligible. In mobile networks, on the other hand, the round trip time (RTT) between the mobile device and the CDN server is often 100s of milliseconds. As a result, the additional roundtrips dramatically degrade the user experience. In his post, Scott Renfro suggested placing the content as close as possible to the user. We couldn’t agree more, and this is exactly what we’re doing with Saguna’s new CDN-Extend.

The second issue influencing user experience is less obvious at first. For years now, mobile network operators have invested a lot in network elements designed to enhance user experience. Policy controls, optimizers and caching solutions manipulate traffic payloads in order to better utilize the limited mobile network resources and overcome limitations such as delay and bandwidth. One can argue that migrating the networks and devices from 3rd generation to 4G/LTE is addressing these exact limitations, but this isn’t accurate. As we discussed in our blog posts about throttling mobile users; mobile usage habits are evolving. Mobile users are consuming more and more data with new, shiny, fast, big-screen, multi-core smartphones and tablets. Very soon, 4G Networks will also be facing congestion issues, just like their predecessors.

But here is where HTTPS makes it worse. With HTTPS traffic, the mobile operator has no access to the payload delivered between the content server and mobile user. This means that optimizers, caching solutions and any other solution that manipulates the content payload itself cannot be utilized with HTTPS, which affects the overall mobile user experience in the network.

The third issue is not specific to HTTPS traffic but it is a major concern. It is the lack of information the content provider has with regards to the current radio conditions. Radio congestion fluctuates over time; a given cell may be heavily congested one moment and less so the next. Without full visibility into the real-time radio congestion level, it is impossible to adapt the video stream in order to optimize the user experience.

Since the mobile operator has fewer tools to improve the user experience with HTTPS traffic, real-time information is even more crucial to user experience.

Looking into a brighter future

Saguna CODS CDN-Extend

So what can be done?

One option is to bring the CDN providers as close as possible to the mobile user. To achieve this, Saguna has a new product – Saguna CODS CDN-Extend, which has been selected as a finalist “Best of 4G World Award”. Yeah!

CDN-Extend enables CDN providers to integrate a server-side CDN application into the mobile base station, running on the Saguna CODS Open-RAN platform.

This enables us to overcome the disadvantages mentioned above:

  • Overcoming the first disadvantage: we have the lowest possible latency. In fact, it is similar to the numbers we observe in the fixed IP network (i.e., matter of just few 10s of msec).
  • And the latter two, as Saguna Open-RAN platform knows the momentarily network conditions within the radio access network, the information helps the CDN server-side application to better utilize the current network resources. Another benefit is that decisions are taking place within the base station and not in the core network; a fact that reduces the delay between the report about the network condition and the action took to overcome it.

Come and see it in action

We will showcase this unique technology with a leading CDN provider (who is it? Who is it?) at 4G World/CTIA show in Vegas, 9-11 September in booth 3342.

You are welcome to book your demo or a meeting with us here.

Danny Frydman, our CTO, will talk about the product on September the 9th, 3:00-3:20pm at Expo Hall Solutions Theater, Booth 2875.

Mobile secure data share (estimation)

Estimation of secured mobile data share, North America

Estimation of secured mobile data share, North America (source: sandvine)