You can find billions of websites and videos on the internet so it may be surprising to learn that most people watch the same Netflix movies, the same viral cat videos on YouTube, and even look at the same Facebook posts. All of these videos and images are stored in multiple locations hosted by major content providers such as Google, Netflix, and Microsoft.
Viewers in Hawaii access this content from data centers located on the West Coast, but being more than 2,500 miles away causes a delay (or latency) for Hawai‘I consumers before the desired content comes up on their screens. On occasion, high-definition (HD) video may be slower to appear or there are signs of buffering (starting and stopping of the video).
To eliminate these delays and buffering, content providers and internet service providers (ISP) like Hawaiian Telcom use a technology called caching. Caching stores popular content locally in our data centers here in Hawai‘i. Providers like Netflix monitor trends and regularly upload popular shows like the latest episode of Orange is the New Black to their servers in our data center so it appears almost instantly when pulling it up on your internet-connected device.
The result of this collaborative effort is a solid win for our customers who can see their content a lot sooner and with almost no buffering. Content providers pay for the servers but save on bandwidth costs. ISPs pay for the electricity and cooling for the servers. While we do not know what content gets stored, we have happier, more satisfied customers, which is our ultimate goal.
The next time you are at home viewing trending YouTube videos, see how quickly the video begins playing and how fast it restarts when you jump around in the video timeline. That performance is caching in action.
Jason Thune is director of network development at Hawaiian Telcom. Reach him at Jason.email@example.com.
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