Have you ever wondered why certain videos on YouTube seem to run more smoothly than others? Over the years, I’ve consistently noticed that some videos on my home connection will run without interruption while others are as slow as molasses. Upon further consideration, I determined a simple common denominator for the videos that play without interruption — they’re popular. In other words, they’re trending. And, the opposite is usually true for the slower videos.
To ensure better performance, my Internet provider keeps a local copy of the popular YouTube content (caching), and when I watch a trending video, they send me the stream from their local cache. However, if I request a video that’s not contained in their current cache, I’m sent over the broader Internet to the actual YouTube content servers. When this occurs, my video streams are located off the provider’s local network and my pipe can be restricted. Therefore, the most likely cause for the slower video stream is traffic congestion at peak hours.
Considering this, caching video is usually a win-win for the ISP and Internet consumer. Here’s why…
Benefits of Caching Video for the ISP
Last-mile connections from the point of presence to the customer are usually not overloaded, especially on a wired or fiber network such as a cable operator. Caching video allows a provider to keep traffic on their last mile and hence doesn’t clog the provider’s exchange point with the broader Internet. Adding bandwidth to the exchange point is expensive, but caching video will allow you to provide a higher class of service without the large recurring costs.
Benefits of ISP-Level Caching for the Internet Consumer
Put simply, the benefit is an overall better video-viewing experience. Most consumers could care less about the technical details behind the quality of their Internet service. What matters is the quality itself. In this competitive market and the rising expectations for video service, the ISP needs every advantage it can get.
Why Target YouTube for Caching?
YouTube video is very bandwidth intensive and relatively stable content. By stable, we mean once posted, the video content does not get changed or edited. This makes it a prime candidate for effective caching.
Should an ISP Cache All Of The Data It Can?
While this is the default setting for most Squid caching servers, we recommend only caching the popular free video sites such as YouTube. This would involve some selective filtering, but caching everything in a generic mode can cause confusion with some secure sites not functioning correctly.
Note: With Squid Proxy you’ll need a third party module to cache YouTube.
How Will Caching Work with My NetEqualizer or Other Bandwidth Control Device?
You’ll need to put your caching server in transparent mode and run it on the private side of your NetEqualizer.