Over-The-Top streaming of video content has got more mature and robust as the media industry continues to evolve rapidly due to the growing number of delivery channels and consumption devices. Today, viewers consume content anytime, anywhere. Operators are shifting focus to experience-led, data-driven, digital platform-based solutions to transform next-generation video services and provide immersive customer experiences..
Naturally, finding a customer’s location becomes imperative for service providers as this information helps to customize and enhance user experience, such as suggesting local channels for streaming, local sports highlights to watch, or local news stories to read. Here comes the need for IP Geolocation of devices that makes it possible to obtain information in real time and locate users with pinpoint accuracy. Geolocation is a technology that uses data acquired from user devices to identify or describe the user’s actual physical location. IP addresses have no association with a physical location, and the resources that they are associated with can change over time. An IP address can move between different physical or virtual devices and geographies.
IP Geolocation typically is a means of associating IP addresses with physical locations like continent, country, state/province, city, as well as extended information like postal code, area code etc. This is done either by leveraging third-party vendor solutions that provide this database or by proprietary solutions developed for own use. However, accuracy of IP geolocation data varies widely, and inaccurate data can cause several problems.
So why is this important to OTT Service Providers?
IP geolocation helps OTT service providers know where subscribers are located. This helps them deliver services with greater QoS and enables compliance to any geographic restrictions that may have been imposed by content producers or regulators. Some advantages include:
Impact of inaccurate data:
Inaccurate IP geolocation data can create issues for customer-facing use-cases and impact service delivery related scenarios. If the customer does not get the services they have paid for, customer service teams may have an uphill task to address unhappy customers thus running up operational costs.
There is no ground truth for IP-based geolocation services that tie IP addresses to a physical location. Therefore, the approach to address this problem must be multifold. IP-based geolocation may not be delivering the most accurate data every single time but it can still provide some accuracy up to a certain extent. Let’s look at a few options that can be used to provide a holistic solution to the problem:
IP geolocation is nothing but a guessing game. It may never get perfect. However, we need ways to keep closing in on the accuracy of the solution. Industry leaders like Netflix address the problem by using smart algorithms to distinguish between IPs belonging to ISPs and VPS providers along with GeoIP databases that get continuously upgraded based on business rules to handle proxies, VPNs, blacklisted IPs, network routes etc. Telcos and OTT video service providers need to work together to help solve geolocation problems. There isn’t one size that will fit all, but by collaborating and bringing in a multifold approach, we can solve the problem, thus delivering a highly customized and enhanced user experience.
Distinguished Member of Technical Staff at Wipro Ltd.
Manish is a Media Consultant working closely with Multi-programming video distributors globally for the past 20+ years. In his current role, he incubates media solutions and consults in System Architecture and Engineering development for NextGen OTT Video services.