Is Google’s mobile API a vision of the future?

Written by on May 9, 2016 in Guest Blog with 0 Comments

Businessman standing in front of bright big shining door.Google’s Mobile data plan API enables operators to share data plan information with an application in order to optimize the user’s experience.

Is this a vision of the future?

Imagine a world where the operators’ networks know exactly what type of resources the applications require in real-time? Imagine a world where applications can alter their behavior in response to changing network conditions. Imagine a world where applications improve their data use so less data is consumed or data is used more efficiently?

Somebody pinch me, I must be dreaming!

More than 50 percent of YouTube content is watched on mobile devices, typically some of this time is by using Wi-Fi connectivity. However, a large and rapidly increasing percentage is on cellular networks. At the same time most users have mobile data plans with usage limits/data caps. Users who exhaust their quota can incur overage charges, have their data connections turned off or speeds reduced. When this happens, application performance suffers and user satisfaction decreases.

At the root of this problem lies the fact that there is no sharing of information of Data Plan API. Users do not have an easy way to share data plan information with an application, and, in turn, applications cannot optimize the user’s experience. So Google/YouTube, in an effort to address the issue worked with a few partners in the mobile ecosystem to specify Data Plan API that will improve data transparency.

At a high level, the API comprises of two parts:

  1. A mechanism for applications to establish an anonymous identifier of the user’s data plan. The Carrier Plan Identifier (CPID), protects the user’s identity and privacy.
  2. A mechanism that allows applications, after establishing a CPID, to request information about the user’s data plan from the mobile network operator (MNO). Applications communicate with MNOs using HTTPS and the API encodes data plan information in an extensible JSON-based format.

2016.05.02-data-plan-api-3The Data Plan API will improve transparency and Quality of Experience (QoE) for mobile applications such as YouTube.

Examples given:

a. The cost of data can depend on the time of day, where users get discounts for using the network during off-peak hours.

b. While users with unlimited data plans may prefer high resolution videos, users who are about to exceed their data caps or are in a busy network may be better served by reduced data rate streams that extend the life of the data plan while still providing good quality.

Cellular network constraints are even more acute in countries where the cost of data is high, users have small data budgets, and networks are over utilized. With more than 80 percent of views from outside the United States, YouTube is the first Google application conducting field trials of the Mobile Data Plan API in countries, such as Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Guatemala, where these characteristics are more prominent. These trials aim to deliver data plan information as an additional real-time input to YouTube’s decision engine tuned to improve QoE.

The Data Plan API was designed in cooperation with a number of key partners in the mobile ecosystem, including the Telenor Group, Globe Telecom and Tigo, all of which have already adopted and implemented this API. Google also worked with Ericsson to support the Mobile Data Plan API in their OTT Cloud Connect platform.

Thanks to Eyal Y. for the heads up on this!

More here and here.

This article was first published on Pricing Data Plans.

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About the Author

About the Author: Jonathon has been lurking around the Telecoms and Internet space for the last 20 years. He is now a man on a mission – that being the reformation of the Industry Analyst business. He is working with his co-conspirators on transforming the Industry Analyst world forever as an Expert with EMI. .


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