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Netflix deploys caches of its catalogue to Indian Internet providers

Netflix has deployed caches of its catalog to Indian Internet providers in Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, and Hyderabad, MediaNama has learned. Netflix had already deployed such caches, known as Open Connect Appliances, throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States. These caches allow users to directly stream titles from an Internet provider’s network, as opposed to streaming them from Netflix’s own servers.

So far, YOU Broadband, Hathway, and ACT Broadband are learned to have Open Connect Appliances embedded on their network (see methodology below).

Netflix declined to participate in this story. YOU Broadband did not respond to a request for comment. ACT Broadband didn’t have an immediate comment to offer; we will update this post if they make a statement. MediaNama has also reached out to Hathway for comment.

Methodology

Netflix’s debug console on desktop browsers displays information on which server a particular title is being streamed from, and how fast that stream is. I noticed last week that the data speed of my stream had increased tenfold from usual, and it turned out that the server Netflix was streaming from was an Open Connect Appliance. The URL was:

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c001.pnq001.youbroadband.isp.nflxvideo.net

Even in non-cache servers, Netflix uses three digit airport codes to designate the city where a server is based. PNQ is the code for Pune, where I live. And the URL also mentioned the name of YOU Broadband, my ISP. Therefore I could reasonably conclude that this was an Open Connect Appliance embedded in YOU Broadband’s Pune network.

By substituting the constituents of that server address with different ISP names and Indian airport codes, and pinging all the addresses that I got as a result, I found that YOU Broadband only has one OCA, in Pune, whereas ACT Broadband had three OCAs, in Hyderabad, Chennai, and Bangalore. Hathway has four OCAs: in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi, and Mumbai.

Bypassing the Internet

In the US, Netflix alone accounts for over 37% of all Internet traffic between 9pm and midnight. To manage this heavy load, it started the Open Connect program, where they deployed caches of their catalog, updated daily, to Internet providers for free. While this cache doesn’t contain the entire catalog, it is pre-loaded with enough regionally popular titles for Netflix and ISPs to bypass Netflix’s own servers for a major portion of user requests.

Shortly after deploying these appliances in India, the video streamings service,  yesterday globally started allowing downloads on Windows 10 devices, including PCs, laptops, and tablets. On ISPs with Netflix’s Open Connect Appliances installed, downloads have been much faster than they were before installation. My streams’ data transfer speeds, for instance, used to range between 4Mbps and 8Mbps. After Netflix installed caches on my ISP’s network, those speeds jumped to over 80Mbps.

India moves

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Netflix has been gradually stepping up their India operations. In a visit to New Delhi last month, CEO Reed Hastings announced that the company would open an office in Mumbai soon. The company has already registered this office with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, an LLP listing on the ministry’s website reviewed by MediaNama reveals. This came after a meeting with Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan, where it reportedly neared a deal with the latter. The company earlier signed a long-term deal for movies from Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment.

UPDATE (10/4/2017): Hathway is also learnt to have had Netflix caches installed on their network. This article has been updated to reflect that information.

Written By

I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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