picoNETS – Deep Edge Caching at Massive Scale

In this edition of the Industry Spotlight series, we take a look at picoNETS; a startup focused on building Deep Edge Content Delivery Networks or Deep Edge Caching for Telcos and Content Providers.

Let’s take a look at their product, journey, USP, and what sets them apart from the rest, shall we?

Who is picoNETS?

picoNETS is a Deep Edge Content Delivery Network provider started in 2016, and they primarily work with telecom and content providers. Some of their USPs and accomplishments are –

  • They are a Deep Edge CDN for media delivery and also provide edge computing resources.
  • picoNETS is a partner of the Rural Cloud Initiative in the US and is engaged with top OTT platforms in India
  • They are live in 5G Labs for a US Telco and have gained traction with Carriers, Telcos, and ISPs in the US, UK, India, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Fiji.

How does picoNETS’ Edge Caching Work?

Before we dive into the “how,” let’s understand why there is a need for a deep edge CDN like the one offered by picoNETS.

Let’s take the example of rural America.

A recent article from The Verge highlighted the struggle faced by rural Americans in their pursuit of high speed Internet and how this problem was exacerbated in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. A raging debate on the same article in Reddit underscored the struggle of everyday, rural America.

In addition to a lack of high-speed internet, if a CDN provider does not have a point of presence (PoP) near your city/town/village, then you are going to face problems with streaming video.

Video streaming problems manifest in different ways – a long delay in showing the first picture (startup delay or latency), buffering issues during playback, or while seeking back or forth in the video, and in the worst case, complete stalls or fatal errors. Apart from these problems, a low-bandwidth connection is quite likely to result in a low resolution (or bitrate) video being delivered to your device.

All of these problems amount to an abysmal viewing experience, right?

So what’s the solution to these problems?

Well, one could argue that it’s up to the CDN provider to establish more POPs (geographically distributed) and improve their coverage. While this is a reasonable argument, it can be challenging in terms of infrastructural costs and the RoI for the CDN provider.

However, if you continue this train of thought, you end up with a business model that establishes POPs at a much more granular level.

What do I mean by this?

Well, instead of establishing a POP in every town or city, why not go deeper and install a POP at every airport, shopping mall, school, university, or post office?

Is it possible? Well, it sure is and this is the USP of picoNETS.

picoNETS go “deep” and establish “deep edge caches” right next to your underserved target audience to ensure that they get a fantastic QoE.

A prototypical customer of picoNETS could be a university that uses the deep edge cache to provide buffer-free, high quality, online classes for their students (live or on-demand).

Here is an illustration of the concept we just discussed.

picoNETS edge caching

The benefit of using picoNETS

Now that we’ve established that picoNETS brings caching closer to your customer (the “why” and the “how”), the benefits are evident and critical to a good user experience.

With picoNETS, you get,

  • low latency media delivery – this is important in reducing stalls, and time-to-first-byte, startup-delay
  • reduced buffering during playback and during seeks.
  • the ability to scale and deliver media when content goes viral especially, in a geo-localized manner.

Another cool use-case for picoNETS is in the online multiplayer gaming industry.

It is important for gaming engines to synchronize each player’s location with the rest of the players, or else the game-play is spoiled, and there could be unfair advantages to certain players over others.

picoNETS tries to solve such problems by providing edge-computing in addition to their edge caching capabilities. By moving the decision and synchronization engines closer to the players (edge, i.e.), game-play is improved, and the latency incurred in player-synchronization is reduced.

All this sounds nice, right? But, my mind went straight to a commercial deployment scenario and I wasn’t sure how picoNETS would work alongside a traditional CDN. Do you need to use both or either one?

Well, let’s find out.

How Do You Choose Between a CDN and picoNETS Deep Edge Cache?

While speaking to Ashish Bedekar, picoNETS’ COO, I asked him what a typical deployment looks like and how does it impact their customers’ operations?

He mentioned that the deployment is quite straightforward (similar to other CDN deployments). And, the decision to switch between a customers’ incumbent, traditional CDN and picoNETS happens at the CMS level.

At the CMS, a decision is taken to playback a stream using the CDN or with the picoNETS Deep Edge Cache. The decision is based on the ASN value, and Ashish told me that the rules could be more fine-grained as needed.

For example, their multi-CDN router allows you to add rules to direct premium subscribers’ traffic vs. others. Also, they have fail-over policies to ensure that the end-user is never left hanging!

This multi-CDN approach is smart and allows you to fine-tune your deployment to take advantage of each service (CDN & picoNETS) in its “area of strength”.

Here’s an example of their architecture that demonstrates this.

picoNETS edge cache

Again, it’s best to get in touch with picoNETS to discuss specifics.

Get in touch with picoNETS

To learn more about their technology and to talk to the picoNETS team for further information, you can either visit their website or email Ashish Bedekar.

Conclusion

It is critical to get your content delivery strategy on point when it comes to OTT and I think there is a lot of scope for improving the current techniques used in CDNs, Edge Caching, P2P, etc. with the ultimate goal of providing a sublime viewing experience for the end-users.

I think the work that picoNETS is doing is great, serves a very underserved segment of our population, and helps them enjoy the same benefits as those in urban areas!

Do share this article with your friends on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Until next time, take care, Subscribe, and continue reading OTTVerse.com!

About The Author

I’m Dr. Krishna Rao Vijayanagar, and I am the Founder and Editor of OTTVerse.com. I've spent several years working hands-on with Video Codecs (AVC, HEVC, MultiView Plus Depth), ABR streaming, and Video Analytics (QoE, Content & Audience, and Ad). I hope to use my experience and love for video streaming to bring you information and insights into the OTT universe. Please use the Contact Page to get in touch with me.

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