If video degrades on Facebook, Instagram, are TikTok doomscrollers to blame?

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The videos of silly cats and prancing adolescents come with a price, because nothing is free. The more TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube videos we’re watching, the more data traffic we generate. The mobile networks carry this traffic. They’re not happy about it. It’s about money. It always is, right?The latest Reuters report underlines how global traffic grew 25% in the 12 months to the first quarter of 2024. Video accounted for 73% of all mobile traffic by the end of 2023. These are some serious numbers.

That’s why telecom operators (like Vodafone) have been complaining about the cost of it all – at the end of the day, they have to shoulder the cost of upgrading networks, while the Big Tech companies that benefit get a free ride.

Not to sound like a 1920s Soviet propaganda poster (you know: sturdy peasants, hammers, and sickles), but with every TikTok video you’re watching, you’re making it harder for telecom operators to profit. On the other hand, if that’s your goal: cool, you’re doing great. It’s just that in the meantime we’re getting costlier and costlier plans. And not all of us watch TikTok…

So, back to the report: Meta (owner of Facebook, Instagram) has collaborated with Vodafone to increase capacity on 11 European mobile networks by optimizing the delivery of short-form video “without noticeably compromising the viewing experience”.

However, it remains to be seen whether this claim holds true and video isn’t degrading.

The surge in demand for video content on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube continues to drive substantial growth in mobile data usage.

Efforts within the EU to compel major tech firms to invest in 5G infrastructure stalled last year and are unlikely to be revived before year-end, if at all.

Vodafone views partnering with Meta as a practical approach to address debates on equitable resource allocation.

–Alberto Ripepi, Vodafone’s chief network officer

During a trial in April, Vodafone reported a significant reduction in Meta’s data traffic on its UK network, freeing up capacity in high-traffic areas such as shopping centers and transport hubs.

Spain’s Telefonica said last week it was also working with Meta on optimizing video traffic delivery on its networks. Let’s see how this one ends!


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