Akamai vs Comcast CDN

Comcast is a new regional based CDN offering video delivery services, and large file delivery. Their CDN platform runs on the Apache Traffic Server. Since there is limited information from Comcast on their CDN, we can make some assumptions. If Comcast is able to deliver video files, than they can delivery large non-video based files. In addition, they most likely offer token authentication, SSL, and some basic reporting. It takes years for a CDN to build an extensive feature set. On the other hand, Akamai is a full service CDN offering an extensive feature set that has been developed over the last decade. If I were to guesstimate the number of features in the Comcast portfolio, I would say it’s about 5% of Akamai’s.

Comcast and Telco CDN Cost Structure

Does Comcast or any other Telco CDN really have a lower cost structure than Akamai or Limelight? I doubt it. The only credible individual that is qualified to speak on that matter is the Telco CFO and her team of accountants. Dropping fiber in ground, servicing it, and maintaining is a very expensive proposition. Not only is a lot of equipment needed, but a large staff to keep it up and running. Lets not forget about fiber cuts; fixing fiber cuts is expensive costing a few hundred thousand dollars per fix. That of course depends on many factors. More than anything else, there are lots of overhead expenses to owning a fiber network. I won’t cover that topic now, only to say that Telco cost structure for a Telco CDN is an unknown, unless Comcast or any other Telco CDN wants to reveal their cost structure.

Comcast Last Mile Content Delivery

Comcast owns the last mile for a specific region, does that mean they are faster than Akamai? Of course not. The last mile is one of about 20+ pieces of the CDN infrastructure that plays a part in the performance equation. What if Akamai uses better servers, with SSD drives, 6TB of RAM per server, that plugs into Arista switches, where a bulk of the data is stored on a high performance Isilon storage arrays, and so on. These are also important pieces to performance. If a Telco CDN owns the last mile, and their infrastructure equipment is inferior to an Akamai, than the last mile delta disappears. Besides that, Akamai and AT&T have a very strong relationship, and I’m sure AT&T does all in its power to ensure that Akamai’s traffic is delivered fast over the AT&T  last mile, being just as fast as if Akamai did own the last mile. Akamai vs Comcast CDN