Slow Video Streaming Issues in Pakistan May Soon Be History

Consider this. You’re casually browsing when a friend sends you a link to a video. You open it and it’s slow to load, reminding you of horrible days when modems used to make unholy sounds when connecting to the internet. Browsing seems fine, download speeds too but for some reason, the videos take too much time to load.

If this has happened to you, you aren’t alone.

Local Internet Service Providers or ISPs get these kind of complaints regularly where despite getting the advertised speed for an internet connection, the user’s videos won’t stream. The issue isn’t just limited to Facebook or Twitter, others encounter this problem with other video streaming sites as well.

It makes sense to blame the ISP or your internet if the video isn’t streaming, right? Not quite.

The real problem lies with the streaming provider or social media websites’ respective CDNs.

What Is A CDN? How Is It At Fault?

A CDN or Content Delivery Network is a system of distributed servers (the network) which deliver webpages and other content on a website to the end user. The CDNs are placed by content providers including social media giants, broadcasting and over the top TV companies etc. at various geographical locations depending on the number of users in that area or the amount of data used in that area.

The problem is that social media networks and video sharing platforms like Facebook, Google and YouTube do not have adequate CDNs in Pakistan.

This means that Pakistani users have to access that data from another country or region’s CDN, most probably from Singapore or in Europe in majority of cases when accessing these websites from Pakistan.

These CDNs, which are already handling the data in their respective regions can get overloaded as it is designed with a specific volume of data in mind and is incapable of handling more data resulting in those endless video buffering and low quality videos you see on YouTube, Facebook and other sites.

Importantly, accessing the CDNs in another country will carry higher delay than if the CDN is placed in Pakistan. With video delivery (which most commonly uses adaptive bit rate streaming) this usually also means a longer time to load the video, more time buffering and also significantly more time before the stream quality improves: most videos start at Standard Definition (SD) quality and then gradually increase to HD as the client senses more bandwidth is available.

[Hint: if your Netflix video stream quality is poor, you can try stopping and starting the stream again (using either pause then unpause or rewind several seconds and then play) and then wait 30 seconds to a minute for the quality to improve. This delay and ramp up to a higher quality stream is caused by the latency in reaching the far-end streaming server].

How Storm Fiber Is Going To Fix This

StormFiber, a local ISP, has stepped up to resolve this issue by working closely with social media giants as well as YouTube and Netflix to place their respective CDNs in Pakistan.

Some of these giants such as YouTube have already placed their CDNs and are constantly increasing their capacity as StormFiber’s traffic grows. In addition companies such as Akamai (the world’s largest CDN provider) are also in the process of placing their infrastructure with Stormfiber. This will fix the problem of overloading other CDNs and dramatically reduce the latency users experience when loading streams and improve the experience of viewing HD and 4K streams.

These steps by StormFiber will enable Pakistani users to have content delivery network with-in our own country and ultimately better video quality without any buffering or delay.

  • Indeed a good step. Akamai is used by giants to deliver static contents in Asia. The impact is not just limited to Facebook but any site which uses AKAMAI CDN will be benefited to improve user experience.

    I think, PTCL has some partnership with Youtube/Google to cache static contents.

    • Stormfiber is actually Cybernet, and if Cybernet is deploying CDN then you know what comes next… so the article seems damn true..!

  • How come a local ISP’s move is going to benefit all internet users in Pakistan. I am sorry if I am not getting it but anyone who can describe this would be greatly appreciated.

    • The author didn’t write well about what is a CDN. For example, I have a website, it’s hosted one of the hosted companies in Lahore. If a person who lives in Lahore wants to open it, for him, the site will load faster. But if Barack Obama wants to visit, the site will load somewhat slower because he is living in the USA, the data will transfer slow due to high latency.

      To get rid of this problem, a CDN is used as most people of the world use Cloudflare which gives a free CDN for a website owner. If you establish it, your site will load faster because it has servers (CDNs) all over the world – 40 countries. Propakistani also uses CDN, it means, even you’re living in the USA or Pakistan, the website will load faster as you can check with by using different countries locations.

      Now come to the point. If local ISP acts as a CDN for any site, if you visit the site which is using the CDN, the site will load faster. If Youtube places a server in Changa Manga, the site will load extremely fast for them because the data will cache faster. Facebook videos don’t stream well in Pakistan because it has a few CDN, if a lot of CDNs are placed, the steaming will not be an issue.

      • Tu matlab agar main theek samajh raha hon tu koi bhi ISP CDN ki tarah act kare overall Pakistan ke users ko faida hoga, beshak woh kisi aur ISP ka internet use kar rahe hon?

        • G Bilkul…!! CDN ka faida sab ka hoga…becz us website ka data jo load ho rha hoga wo us ky nazdeek tareen CDN sy ho rha hoga….it doesn’t matter which internet you’re using PTCL, Zong etc.

          • That is NOT TRUE. Until there are proper IX (Internet Exchange points) in Pakistan, not everyone will benefit.

            I cannot remember the number of times I tried to update some software and it thought the nearest location was the CDN at LUMS in Lahore yet link between PTCL and LUMS was always choked. Far faster to download from outside Pakistan.

            • It means the problem in the CDN at LUMS that has no much bandwidth and faster connection. A CDN depends on various factors – bandwidth, speed, server load, RAM, latency etc. If it has a server having a connection of 10Mbps for uploading and a lot of people try to download or upload, it will work very slow. Google uses extremely fast connections and high end servers for the CDN, that’s why, Youtube runs fast. I downloaded Counter Strike Global Offensive via Steam, it was downloading faster through a Pakistani server as compared to others. I hope you’ve understood.

              • No, you are missing the point. When I used to have that problem, it was because downloading from the server at LUMS was very fast — if you are at LUMS. Because there was no IX at all in Pakistan back then, even if I was on PTCL or Worldcall, my traffic to LUMS went all the way out of Pakistan and back in.

                Now there are IX points but I don’t know how good they are for such traffics between all ISPs in Pakistan. For the record, few days back I tried to upgrade a Steam game and I was getting 20-30 kilo bytes/sec. I restarted my modem to get a new IP address and it jumped up to maximum speed on my DSL. SNR and Attn ratios before and after reboot were the same, just IP address was in different range.

                Even inside PTCL their routing is so messed up it’s incredible how many incompitent people work there. Even I noticed at times if I tried to download Google Chrome, I would be downloading from a Google cache server inside PTCL’s network and still getting only 30-40 kibobyte/sec. Reboot modem, get an IP in the same range, still slow. Reboot modem get another IP range and it’s dead fast.

          • thats not correct. If you are being forwarded by TLD or Root to the locally hosted server, only then you will get benefit out of it. It depends how your DNS queries are being handled, and to be more precise “who handles it”.

              • Dear,
                CDNs and transparent caches operate in different modes. even different CDNs operate in different modes. You cant just say if i put CDN in my network everyone or everything is going to get benefit from it. You gotta check how the CDN works which you are going to deploy. no one is a joke :) its just how it operates.

                • Ok, Bro! If you have time, can you explain further what does mode mean in CDN? What is the mode of Cloudflare CDN, and the CDN being run by Google in Asia for the best speed? Thanks!

      • that’s the same thing PTCL did with Netflix? It is hosting a CDN?

        Basically CDN is like a local server that is a mirror of the original server?

    • If an ISP has a CDN, it doesnt mean everyone around it will benefit from it. CDNs work in different ways to serve traffic to end users. Its in control of the provider or CDN controller to define who is going to get benefit out of it.

      • Ji bhai yehi keh rahe hain kuch log, sab alag alag rae de rahe hain aur discussion upar buhat technical hogayi hai aur apni samajh se bahar hai :-) I guess is SPONSORED post se ProPK ne confuse kar dia hai readers ko. Unko khud hi likh dena chahiye tha ke is CDN ka sare internet users ko faida hoga ya nahi.

        • you are right. like i said before, it depends how that CDN works and what you allow that CDN to serve.

  • So facebook shift their cdn for pakistan on stormfiber. That is the real reason i am able to stream from every video except fb.

  • The information in this article is not entirely correct. Storm Fiber is NOT the first and only one to go for CDN. Different ISPs have different CDNs/Caches (Google, Akamai, Netflix) already placed in their network for quite some time(4-5 years). Even if Storm fiber deploys CDN, whole Pakistan will benefit from it? Thats a totally different conversation. Huge resources are required to entertain whole nation’s traffic via CDN in one ISP network.
    IX has been working for some time now, and traffic would grow out of it soon. So if someone wants to benefit whole nation, place it in IX setup and not in some service provider.

  • I still doesn’t understand how streaming gets better with a CDN. In case of a website with few pages, data can be cached and hence load faster when get loaded from a local CDN. But in case of youtube or Netflix even with a CDN only a small amount of videos can be cached and hence videos mostly would have to be loaded from the main server which is not in Pakistan. So how a local CDN will help in better streaming. can anybody clarify this!

    • A lot of commonly access content – known as “hot” content – is cached locally. For example if 3 people stream the same movie, CDNs or caches as they are commonly called store a local copy of the file such that the 4 person (and on) download only the local copy. This improves the video quality and throughput because the 4th to the millionth viewer of that content will be served locally.

  • Yar mujhe koi ye btaye Ye Stormfiber or flana flana ISPs jin k names sirf pe sunne ko miltay hain. Ye apna coverage area barhatay Q nahi hain? Mtlab Islamabad mein jo k aik country ka Capital hai wahan totally 3 ISPs available hain Witribe, Qubee or PTCL. Nayatel hai lkn sirf Main areas tak.
    Ye dusre ISPs apni services Q nhi barhatay? QK Jitna competition zyada ho ga utna users or ISPs dono ko faida ho ga or Internet ki quality bhi achi ho gi.

  • Any one else is facing slow facebook android app. I cant even load videos sometimes. Other websites/apps work fine. Problem is with facebook app only.

  • CDN from social giants (Facebook, Google etc) normaly have private deployment and regional/public deployment. For private case, servers are deployed in that ISP premises and users of that particular ISP will able to benefit for better experience, for regional public CDN that normally huge infrastructure and open to all users in that territory. if the CDN deployed by Stormfiber is public kind than it would benefit for all users even their ISP provider hosting local CDN or not.

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