Sandvine is currently deployed in over 250 different operators, and until just a few months ago those deployments were limited to subscribers on the ground.
That all changed in early 2015 when a European mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) who provides satellite Internet services to a number of airlines selected Sandvine to help them protect subscriber passenger quality of experience.
In this deployment (shown above), Sandvine’s Policy Traffic Switch (PTS) carefully manages traffic for dozens of airlines, and thousands of planes and daily passengers. The PTS identifies traffic and provides real-time policy enforcement to prioritize applications, while also measuring subscriber quality of experience and making that information available in reports.
The PTS provides detailed measurements that let the MVNO and the airlines understand how the in-flight Internet service is used. This information can later be used to study the potential of new services and to optimize the management policies that are used to share the available bandwidth. Example reports include:
- Latency by aircraft, airline, and network-wide
- Bandwidth by application for each aircraft and airline, and for the network as a whole
- Policy enforcement actions triggered by set conditions
So what are the three most popular applications (by bandwidth) used by travelers when flying? They are:
- Web Browsing
- Apple’s iMessage
Why no streaming video? Application such as YouTube or Netflix are often blocked on flights due to the fact of their high bandwidth demands. If you had 200 people on plane trying to stream video, there wouldn’t be enough bandwidth to go around and it wouldn’t work for anyone. Lower bandwidth applications like web browsing, Facebook, or messaging use far less bandwidth and work fine when trying to be simultaneously accessed by hundreds of subscribers over a satellite connection.
This airplane use case is easily extended to other environments in which a large number of users are sharing a relatively limited amount of bandwidth—as an example, the same situation applies on cruise ships, but instead of a few hundred subscribers there are several thousand!
Anyone have any ideas as to when space tourism will take off? I’m eager to write my next blog post on “Sandvine in Space”.