As online video traffic surges to ever-greater volumes, the emergence of 4K UHD as the next generation in display resolution makes it clear that current modes of online video distribution will be inadequate to meet consumer expectations once 4K usage takes off.
A clue to what lies ahead can be seen in the surge of viewing traffic levels between the 2012 Summer Olympics, when online viewing of the 100-meter final won by Jamaica’s Usain Bolt set a peak traffic record on the Akamai content delivery network (CDN) at 873 Gbps, and the 2014 Winter Olympics, when a new traffic record was set at 3.5 Tbps. That summer, the World Cup semifinal match between the Netherlands and Argentina peaked at 7 Tbps. It’s not hard to imagine a time in the near future when half a billion people could
be simultaneously viewing big events in 4K UHD at 15 Mbps or higher, which would equate to an aggregate global concurrent consumption rate of 2,000 Tbps.
No one understands the need to stay ahead of this curve better than Akamai, which led the development of a CDN infrastructure that has made video the force it is today. From the beginning of the online video era, Akamai has ensured content owners and distributors would always be able to capitalize on the opportunity to deliver a better viewing experience as video moved from the days of Video Graphics Array (VGA) formatted content, through the SD era, to the current environment where 720p HDTV video is the dominant mode and 1080p is rapidly taking hold.
It’s now clear the forces are aligned to drive 4K UHD into the mainstream in the years ahead at a pace that requires the Internet ecosystem to begin preparing for the next leap forward. In the discussion that follows we explore the drivers behind 4K UHD adoption and the preparations Akamai has made to accommodate this new reality.