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Vodafone and Broadcom develop API to cut down on web waste

Photo of Vodafone API software

Vodafone has developed a new application programming interface (API) with VMware (owned by Broadcom) to help cut down on web waste and is showing it off at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2024.

The two companies explained that in recent years many platforms have started implementing infinite scroll to improve the user experience, however, much of this content is downloaded but never viewed by the user - this is especially problematic in the case of short videos which are bigger files.

The new proof-of-concept API runs on Vodafone’s network using VMware’s RAN Intelligent Controller to provide information about network congestion or areas with low coverage. Mobile carriers can then set certain parameters to help the network function better.

Vodafone was keen to point out that the information the API collects is purely technical and doesn’t include any customer data. It’s designed solely to help reduce the estimated 20% of traffic flowing through mobile base stations that include unsolicited content that nobody ever uses or sees.

Many websites use infinite scrolling, including Neowin, however, this typically involves a bit of text and an image thumbnail which isn't a lot of data. The real target of this API are platforms like TikTok and Facebook with its Reels feature which preload the next video - of course, we exit TikTok at some point so there are always videos at the end of the session that have been downloaded that we won’t see.

Commenting on this news, Santiago Tenorio, Vodafone’s Director of Network Architecture, said:

“If a restaurant cooked and served me every dish on the menu as soon as I sat down, although I only had the appetite for one, that would be a waste. In the same way, uncontrolled prefetching is leading to web waste. Capacity that could be better deployed serving other users for more important matters is going on addictive and unnecessary content.”

If it’s not already clear, the widespread deployment of this API would not require any end user participation and in most cases the end users wouldn’t even know anything was happening behind the scenes. However, it would lead to less data usage and energy consumption so it could ultimately lead to lower mobile subscription costs and a greener planet.

Source: Vodafone

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