The last time England played the World Cup semi-finals was 28 years ago. When the footballers hoisted up the trophy and brought it home was way back in 1966, right around the time four fab lads from Liverpool were about to invade America.
Frantic teens shared that news via Princess telephones and watched the Beatles make history on black and white televisions -- large pieces of furniture enveloped in wood. Some parents, generally mothers, worked as telephone operators; others were secretaries or receptionists, perhaps using a state-of-the-art Bell System that turns a telephone into a "versatile intercommunicating system at the touch of a forefinger," to quote the ad.
That system, designed "to give you fully integrated telephone/intercom service," has long been replaced, of course. And those World Cup viewers unable to travel to Russia have been freed from TV sets, just like the screens have long been liberated from clunky wooden frames.
'Yesterday's Not Here No More'
TVs were furniture in the 1960s, telephone operators kept busy connecting callers, the rotary phone was a household staple and this Bell business model was state of the art.
England's team celebrates a victory on its way to the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup 2018.
(Sources, in order, L-R:
Jeanne Demessieux/Wikimedia; eBay; Click Americana; SLGuardian.com)
Thanks to billions of dollars of global infrastructure spending, broadband investment allows football fans to watch every kick, header and goalie block live, regardless of time zone. Within the first two minutes of every 2018 FIFA World Cup match, more than half the globe's OTT viewers begin streaming games -- something that would stress broadband infrastructure just as much as the players on the field if networks aren't able to easily expand for the usage surge.
On the other hand, providers don't want to over-build their networks for peak uses driven by occasional events or seasonal use. Cloud-based platforms and software give operators the flexibility to meet subscribers' needs without huge capex investments.
A growing number of service providers have seen their content delivery networks' (CDN) peak streaming traffic double during this international competition, according to Edgeware, which develops TV CDN technology. The vendor's analytics data determined that popular, live events generate large surges in demand on OTT services -- and infrastructure will only garner more stressors during other live events such as the Olympic Games and Wimbledon.
We all know by now the oft-touted statistic from Cisco's Visual Networking Index: By 2020, video will represent 82% of all Internet traffic, much of that live video. Internet video to TV will represent 26% of consumer Internet video traffic by 2021 versus 24% in 2016, the network vendor's study found.
Within ten days, Russia's event overtook the Brazil World Cup's streaming record, streaming 65% more data by the end of the group stage before individual countries competed in the quarter finals, according to CDN vendor Akamai. Large audiences and the number of concurrent streams peaked at 9.7 million due to scheduling, as Mexico vs. Sweden played at the same time as South Korea vs. Germany, Akamai said.
“This compares to a viewing peak of 5 million for the entire tournament in Rio, which also occurred when two games were played at the same time – US-Germany and Portugal-Ghana," according to the vendor.
Something else is certain, something we can add to "death and taxes." Subscribers will increase live streaming of large -- and smaller -- events, and service providers will keep up with demand on mobile and fixed networks. The advent of 5G will only generate more use cases and more ways to meet that demand.
And hopefully we won't undergo another technological disruption in the time it takes for England to be back in the semi-finalist match.
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana