Measuring IPTV Quality

If you’re implementing IPTV, it’s important to know what metrics to monitor to ensure the transmission of high quality video. Managing performance entails more than tracking response time. Let’s look at the key metrics for managing IPTV in the following table:

Performance Area Metric Description
IPTV Service Metrics QoE Video quality of experience measured via Media Delivery Index (MDI), most often displayed as two numbers separated by a colon: delay factor (DF) and the media loss rate (MLR)
Packet loss Defined as the number of lost or out-of-order packets per second. Since many receivers make no attempt to process out-of-order packets, both are treated as lost in the MLR calculation. The maximum acceptable value for MLR is zero, as any packet loss will impact video quality.
Jitter Measures the variability of delay in packet arrival times
Latency Time taken by transport network to deliver video packets to user
QoS Verify precedence settings are the same for all components of IPTV transmission
IPTV System Metrics CPU Amount of CPU available and used
Memory Device memory available and used
Buffer utilization Quantity used and available
Network Metrics CIR utilization User utilization relative to Committed Information Rate (CIR)
Queue drops Queue drops due to congestion

With a basic understanding of key metrics and the technical specifications from your IPTV solution, you can set thresholds and alarms on metrics to notify you of potential issues before they impact the user.

Thanks to Network Instruments for this Article


Rogers expands LTE to St. John’s

Canada’s Rogers Communications announced yesterday that its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network is now live in St. John’s, making it the first operator to launch the 4G mobile technology in Newfoundland. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Rogers launched its commercial LTE services in July 2011 and by January 2012 the high speed mobile broadband network covered 32% of the country’s population.

Thanks to TeleGeography for this article


5 IPTV Monitoring Best Practices

5 IPTV Monitoring Best PracticesChances are you’ve seen Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) but didn’t know it. Different types of IPTV are popping up in our daily lives ranging from Video-On-Demand to being greeted by pre-recorded video messages at the gas pump or ATM. And many businesses are adopting IPTV to broadcast live or on-demand video content to employees, partners, customers, and investors.

But what does this mean for the network team? In this article we’ll outline IPTV basics and focus on primary management challenges and best practices.

IPTV Basics

In regards to your company, IPTV simply means it has systems in place that can send, receive, and display video streams encoded as IP packets. IPTV video signals can be sent either as a unicast or multicast transmission

  • Unicast: involves a single client and server in the process of sending and receiving video and communication transmissions. Video-on-Demand is a great example of this.
  • Multicast: the process of one party broadcasting the same video transmission to multiple destinations. An example would be a retail chain broadcasting the same video to kiosks in all their stores.

Monitoring Challenges & Best Practices

Implementing best practices can ensure IPTV runs smoothly on your network and performance issues are minimized. As IPTV is deployed, make sure your team is doing the following:

  • Get Visibility, Get Resolution: To ensure video quality, monitor at several points along the video delivery path: headend (point of origin), core, distribution, access, and user/receiver. Critical for capturing accurate metrics and isolating problem source.
  • Minimize Delay and Packet Loss: IPTV video quality can often be compromised by small variations in delay or any significant packet loss. Track, baseline, and alarm on IPTV metrics to proactively identify issues.
  • Avoid Bandwidth Surprises: Transporting video across IP infrastructure consumes considerable bandwidth. Monitor regular use to avoid exceeding thresholds and assist in capacity planning. Reduce the impact of outages by confirming backup network paths have required capacity to carry video.
  • Don’t Monitor in a Vacuum: Confirm your existing performance monitoring tools can track IPTV traffic and metrics alongside existing applications. Incomplete performance views will cause your team to waste time attempting to guess IPTV performance or the impact of other applications on IPTV transmissions.
  • Play Nice with the Video Group: On a converged network, troubleshooting any video issue will involve working with the video group. Attempt to establish processes for coordinating troubleshooting efforts, before problems occur.

This article serves as a starting point for understanding IPTV performance challenges and best practices to implement for ensuring success. For more in-depth information on the technologies, critical network preparations, and IPTV monitoring metrics, check out the following resources:

Telnet Networks thanks Network Instruments for this article

Expanding Visibility with NBAR and IP SLA

IP SLA and NBAR are important monitoring technologies that should be utilized for cost-effectively improving visibility and understanding of network and application performance.

What are NBAR and IP SLA Technologies?

Cisco offers enhanced monitoring functionality on select routers via NBAR and IP SLA technologies that examine, analyze and classify network traffic. Each operates independently and enables more effective management and improved performance, especially where the ability to install probes is restricted or network visibility is otherwise limited. Here is a summary of what each offers:

Network Based Application Recognition (NBAR)

A mechanism that classifies and regulates bandwidth for network applications to ensure that available resources are utilized as efficiently as possible. Read more.

Internet Protocol Service Level Agreement (IP SLA)

Enables the creation of time-based network and services performance data which can be used to validate service level agreements. Read more.

Observer Infrastructure is designed to automatically request NBAR and IP SLA metrics when completing device discovery and polling. As a result, no setup is required and the resulting router parameters are comprehensively presented within a single interface.

We thank Network Instruments for providing this content


Telus notes rapid smartphone, data growth in Q4 results

Canadian quadruple-play operator Telus has posted a 5.3% year-on-year rise in consolidated revenues in the fourth quarter of 2011 to CAD2.69 billion (USD2.68 billion), and a 4% increase in quarterly EBITDA to CAD874 million as sales growth was offset in part by higher costs to acquire and retain wireless customers and to support expansion in its IPTV and fixed broadband service divisions. Net income for the three months to the end of December 2011 climbed 5% year-on-year to CAD237 million, with CAPEX spending reduced by 9.2% to CAD512 million compared to the same period of 2010.

Total customer connections across Telus’ fixed, wireless, internet and TV divisions increased by 3.9% year-on-year to 12.73 million at the end of 2011. Wireless net additions of 129,000 in October-December 2011 – higher by 8.4% compared to net adds in Q4 2010 – included 148,000 new post-paid subscribers and a net loss of 19,000 pre-paid subscribers, as smartphone adoption continued to accelerate, causing quarterly wireless data revenue to increase by 43% to CAD466 million. Data ARPU increased by 35% to CAD21.65, and smartphones represented 74% of post-paid gross additions in the fourth quarter, as compared to 46% a year earlier. As of end-December 2011 smartphone subscribers represented 53% of the post-paid subscriber base, compared to 33% at end-2010. This increase helped more than offset declining wireless voice revenues, resulting in blended ARPU growth of 1% – the fifth consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth. Total wireless subscribers grew by 5.3% year-on-year to 7.34 million at end-December 2011.

In the wireline segment, Telus added 56,000 TV customers in 4Q11 to bring its total subscriber base to 509,000, and attracted 24,000 new high speed internet subscribers in the same period, helping drive wireline data revenue growth of 15%.

MTS Allstream Reports Q4 Results

Canadian full-service telco MTS Allstream has reported full-year revenues for 2011 which declined by 1% to CAD1.765 billion (USD1.762 billion), although consolidated earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) climbed to CAD594 million from CAD565 million the previous year. Wireless revenues increased by 8.6% to CAD356 million for the full-year, driven by a 46.1% increase in wireless data revenues that generated a 4.1% increase in ARPU for the year. At 31 December 2011, 41% of all post-paid wireless subscribers had data plans, up from 27% in 2010. Fixed internet revenues grew 6.8% to CAD103 million in 2011, with average revenue per user (ARPU) up 8.1% to CAD38.56 when compared to 2010, due to fewer customers on promotional plans, subscriber growth and price increases. Annual IPTV revenues grew 19.3% to CAD71 million, driven by the same factors. Long-distance carrier division Allstream’s converged IP revenues were up 8.7% to CAD235 million in 2011, representing approximately 30% of Allstream’s total revenues.

Telus extends IPTV service to mobile devices

Canadian quadruple-play operator Telus has revealed that it is extending its ‘Optik’ IPTV service to mobile devices under the ‘Optik on the go’ banner. Existing fibre-based Optik TV customers in Alberta and British Columbia will be able to view IPTV channels on multiple devices on the move, using Cisco’s cloud-based Videoscape Media Suite to manage and publish content across multiple screens, reports Rapidtvnews.

Rogers Continues to Rollout LTE Network

Rogers Communications has notified its customers that its Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless network is now available in additional cities surrounding Montreal, including: Laval, Terrebonne, Brossard, Longueuil and Vaudreuil, with plans to expand to more than 25 additional cities this year. The planned rollout will bring LTE to more than half the Canadian population by the end of 2012. Rogers was the first to launch an LTE network in Canada, starting in Ottawa last July, with expansion to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver following in September. John Boynton, Rogers’s chief marketing officer, announced that the LTE network currently reaches a population of over eleven million, and stated: ‘By the end of 2012 we will double this with 20 million Canadians able to use LTE devices to download apps, stream HD videos and music or play online games, with no delays or buffering.’ TeleGeography notes that the Rogers LTE network has reached approximately 32% of Canada’s population and the company’s rollout plan should see it get close to 60% LTE coverage before next year.

Article by TeleGeography

So, What is The Customer Perspective of your Contact Centre

Enterprise contact centers are becoming extremely complex, using technology from multiple vendors to meet specific customer requirements.  Today, clients are using new media types such as smart phones and tablets to reach out so you need to explore new technologies such as cloud services to consolidate and improve your delivery.

Why Test the Customer Quality of Experience?

When you change or deploy new technology you need to understand the caller’s perspective, from the greeting through to the agents desktop.  Testing will do three things for you:

  1. Maximize ROI by reducing your system down time and accelerate payback when deploying new technology
  2. Reduce your Risk, with multiple vendors within our systems. Interoperability issues can occur and can be addressed before deployment
  3. Improve Customer Satisfaction by validating the actual customer experience.

What do You Test For?

  1. Infrastructure – This encompasses everything from the carrier network through to the desktop.  By placing real calls from the outside in, you effectively test your voice gateway, the PBX, SIP trunks, load balancing rules, and the effect Data traffic could have on Voice Quality.   You should be able to understand how many calls per minute the system can connect, how the carrier handles overflow, the number of failed calls, busy signals, and ring no answer, etc.
  2. Self Service Applications – technologies such as speech recognition and IVR are crucial to ensure that calls are handled efficiently.   By testing you can understand if the correct prompts are being heard, if your time to connect is acceptable, if the database lookup performing correctly under load conditions, or simply if the responses correlate correctly to the user input.
  3. CTI Routing –  is the integration between the IVR and external systems working correctly, and is the CTI application receiving the correct data
  4. CRM Integration:  Are the screen POP’s coming on time and are the agents getting the right information, with the right call, at the right time.

With a comprehensive plan you can test connectivity by changing the volume of calls or the mix of calls to simulate your defined and expected real world customer conditions and record accurate results.  Detailed behaviour reports are important to allow you to create actionable tasks that address details of what level of load any failures occur.

StressTest allows you to understand how your systems will react to callers rather than letting your customers react to your system.