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Apple is about to vastly improve its content delivery speeds

Apple is apparently working hard on improving iTunes content download speeds for users, Streaming Media reports, with the company having already deployed its own content delivery network that’s already serving some digital content to users, and having inked interconnect deals with ISPs to make sure content delivery gets prime treatment. Apple has already turned on its CDN in the U.S. and Europe, although it’s not clear to what extent it operates, as it tries to replace the CDNs it’s currently using – Akamai and Level 3. For example, OS X downloads arrive directly from Apple’s CDN, Streaming Media has discovered, by doing trace routes on them from multiple ISPs.

Earlier this year we heard that Apple was starting to build its own content delivery network, instead of relying on third-party CDNs like Akamai and Level 3 to deliver iTunes media content and software updates. That plan has come to fruition sooner than expected, according to CDN expert Dan Rayburn: Trace routes from downloads of OS X now show data coming directly from Apple infrastructure. But that’s not all: According to Rayburn’s sources, this isn’t a standard CDN, it’s positively massive, with ten times the capacity currently needed — multiple terabits per second — ready to be deployed. He estimated the buildout, which includes paid interconnection deals with ISPs, will cost more than $100 million, much of it going to Level 3, which is selling network services to Apple in lieu of the CDN business it stands to lose. This fall, Apple will release OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, which are free updates to its operating systems. Often, there’s a rush on the first day as millions of iPhones or Macs try to download the huge files. Rayburn thinks Apple will make use of its CDN to deliver these operating system updates this fall. But yesterday The Information reported that Apple still has designs to launch a TV service that can “make any show available at any time—live broadcasts and old reruns alike—using remote storage.” A service like that would need a burly CDN, but it’s years away if it’s even a possibility. No matter what Apple decides to do with its CDN, it’s certainly an area to watch the Cupertino giant.

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