Techno-economic analysis of Internet content delivery

Nan Zhang

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


The Internet traffic volume, especially of heavy content, has increased fivefold in the past five years and is estimated to grow threefold in the next five years. At the same time, traffic volume originating from cellular data is growing three times faster than fixed IP traffic. Caching is utilized to efficiently cope with the growing traffic volume, and new in-network caching solutions enabled by, for example, information-centric networking (ICN) or software-defined networking (SDN) are being researched by the Internet community. For the in-network caching solution to be successfully adopted, it needs to efficiently solve the technical traffic optimization problem, but also meet the demand of the relevant market actors. This work complements the technical development of in-network caching by analyzing its economic feasibility from the perspectives of the different market actors. First, this research analyzes the changing Internet content delivery ecosystem by identifying the relevant market actors and their respective relationships as well as constructs different scenarios for the future Internet content delivery market. The second part of the research quantitatively models the cost efficiency of SDN-enabled in-network caching compared with the current caching solutions. Several methods and theories are utilized in the research process. Value network analysis is used to study the relationships between the relevant actors, whereas scenario planning is used to analyze alternative industry scenarios. The net benefit of SDN-enabled in-network caching is quantified with techno-economic modeling. In addition, data collection is based on interviews, brainstorming sessions and literature as well as network simulations. The qualitative analysis shows that the success of content delivery networks (CDNs) is highly dependent on the existence of a two-sided platform, which induces cross-side network effects and provides quality guarantees, centralized billing and ease of use to the content providers. Distributed in-network caching solutions, such as ICN, need to solve the coordination problems in order to be widely deployed by the Internet service providers, mobile network operators and content providers. On the other hand, the SDN solution has a centralized controller platform, which potentially provides similar two-sided market benefits to the actors as the CDN solution. In addition, SDN-enabled in-network caching is shown to be cost efficient compared with current caching technologies in mobile networks.
Translated title of the contributionInternetin sisällönjakelun teknis-taloudellinen analyysi
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Hämmäinen, Heikki, Supervising Professor
  • Smura, Timo, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-6826-8
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-6827-5
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • content delivery
  • internet
  • mobile data
  • techno-economic analysis


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