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Building the Right Content Delivery Network (CDN) for Consistent Edge Performance in China

7 Minutes Read

The Chinese market for content consumption is massive.  More than 802 million citizens are now actively using the internet.

For the first time, adults in China now spend significantly more time with digital media than with traditional media.  The average citizen spends 3 hours and 54 minutes with digital, representing more than 58 percent of their time with digital media.

Taking advantage of this large and growing appetite for content in China can be tricky if you don’t choose the right Content Delivery Network (CDN) provider.

Content Delivery Networks (CDN) In China

Distributing content to users in China is not the same as it is in many other places worldwide.

Implemented in 2006, the Golden Shield Project established a complex filtering system for online content.  Websites are required to be licensed and content must adhere to Chinese regulations.

Working with a provider that is licensed in China is crucial to overcoming some of the challenges Chinese regulations create.  You want to work with a CDN provider that has experience working with Chinese regulatory agencies and a strong understanding of what is acceptable.  Make sure they are a licensed Network operator and can help you with following the right steps for Internet Content Provider (ICP) registration administered by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

Without this license, storing, caching, or delivering content within China is not allowed.  CDNs must be licensed even if they deliver content from outside of China.  If they are located outside of the country, however, they can face significant hurdles to delivery.

Global CDNs will deliver content anywhere in the world.  They will have servers throughout the world to provide low latency and fast online delivery.  However, not all CDNs are registered for content delivery to Chinese internet users.  If you choose to work with a global CDN, you need to make sure they partner with Chinese CDN providers licensed to do business in the country.

Be careful of CDNs located in Hong Kong.  While content may be delivered using servers outside the mainland, Hong Kong’s networks are separate from mainland China.  Performance can be greatly reduced, and some content may be blocked.

China Edge Delivery

Companies that are not able to secure an ICP license to deliver content from inside China may still be able to provide content by using an Edge Delivery infrastructure.  Content can be cached from servers in the region and then connected to exchanges the provide IP-peering to networks within China.

This bypasses the requirement for an ICP license as long as you work with Edge network providers like China Telecom that are licensed.

Important Factors To Consider

Here are some of the other important factors you should consider if you want to deliver content to Chinese consumers.

Fast Online Speeds

You need a CDN that is highly responsive and fast.

Online performance can dictate whether someone engages with your content or moves on to something else.  40 percent of internet users will abandon websites that take more than three seconds to load.  Even a delay of as little as one second in response can reduce conversions by 7%.

You will also want to make sure your CDN provider allows for dynamic acceleration.  This will allow dynamic data and content delivered from servers to bypass standard Chinese internet nodes and deliver through a more direct path.  This increased efficiency speeds up delivery and reduces latency.

CDNs that have a presence in China often achieve speeds 50 percent greater than those using servers outside of China.

Optimized For Mobile

Government improvement in developing rural infrastructure has increased mobile usage by older adults.  Mobile usage itself has increased and now represents 98 percent of internet users.  Your CDN should optimize delivery performance for mobile.

Distributed Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A CDN that can efficiently deliver content throughout China will have PoPs (Points of Presence) dispersed throughout mainland China.  While they may have prominent positions in large metro areas, they should also have PoPs closer to rural areas.

Congestion can occur at chokepoints between China’s largest ISPs due to the sheer volume of traffic, so be sure to know what network your end-users subscribe to in order to make sure you deliver a fully on-net user-experience that avoids chokepoint congestion between peering partners.   ChinaNet (AS 4134) is the largest internet network in China in terms of eye-balls so using China Mobile or China Unicom to deliver website content on ChinaNet could negatively impact performance and availability for your ChinaNet users.

Efficient Delivery Of Video Programming

84% of Chinese residents report they watch video programming at least occasionally, according to a study by Nielsen. 75% say they watch on-demand video content at least once a week.  That’s more video consumption than any other country in the world.

Meeting this significant and growing appetite for online streaming and video content means selecting a CDN that can manage large volumes of traffic efficiently.

The Fastest Growing Online Market In The World

China is the fastest growing and potentially largest online market in the world.  Failing to work with the right CDN provider can limit access to your content or potentially lead to it being blocked completely.

If you need a reliable CDN provider in China with owned Tier-1 network infrastructure for more consistent edge performance and premium user-experience in China,  read more about China Telecom’s CDN solutions.