Why Mobile Data Compression No Longer Works
Could compression technology help to reduce the amount of mobile data your organization uses each month?
Many of us are familiar with the concept of compression. I’m sure you remember the days of creating zip files to reduce the size of document and presentations you were sharing. The purpose of compression was to deal with bandwidth constrained environments on fixed networks. However, this issue has largely disappeared with the advent of high bandwidth networks over WiFi and Ethernet.
The Promise of Mobile Data Compression
Cellular networks, on the other hand, do not offer boundless high-speed broadband. Unless you are fortunate enough to have an all you can eat data plan, there is a cost to every byte of data. So, you’d think that compression might have value in mobile. And you’d be right – up to a point.
It is absolutely true that compression can have a significant impact on mobile traffic. Chrome for Android recently introduced video compression and reported that it resulted in a 67% data saving. A test of another browser, Opera, demonstrated that using its ‘extreme compression’ feature you could reduce the data required to load a webpage by 93%.
The Impact of Data Encryption
Unfortunately, compression will only work on unencrypted traffic. And unencrypted traffic is fast disappearing. As recently as two years ago, industry analysts reported that less than 10% of traffic on the web was encrypted. By the end of 2016, this percentage will have risen to 75%. This change has been driven by a combination of consumer privacy concerns and the desire by web giants to hide their end-users activity from competitors.
In 2014, high bandwidth video streaming applications like Netflix were typically unencrypted. Today, virtually all Netflix traffic is over HTTPS. Google recently reported that 97% of YouTube traffic is now over the internet’s standard encryption protocol. And, it’s not just websites – by the end of 2016, Apple will insist that all communications to and from apps must be over HTTPS.
What does this mean for 3rd party compression tools?
In short, it’s impossible to compress what you cannot see. Third party compression tools rely on being able to take the original content e.g. image or video and make it smaller while still retaining its view-ability. If the third party tool cannot see the content because it’s transmitted over an encrypted tunnel, well, then there is nothing that can be done to compress the file.
The Bottom Line
Tools that claim to reduce your mobile data consumption by compressing each byte of data down to a smaller size are unlikely to deliver on their promises. Don’t waste time on these tools which will have only a marginal effect on your company’s overall mobile data usage. Instead, focus on promoting responsible use by your employees. One proven way of doing this is to deploy an Enterprise Mobility Control product like Corrata.
With Corrata Mobility Control, organizations can help their employees act responsibly by preventing them inadvertently accessing high bandwidth sites and applications over mobile connections. In addition, Corrata gives employees clear visibility of their usage, and timely advice on how to avoid unnecessary expense. A mobile control solution will put your organization in control of your employees’ use of mobile data. And, it will help you keep your business’s mobile service expenses in check.