Voice, video, and data service combinations are fueling demand for triple-play test tools

October 18, 2006

5 Min Read
Triple Play Fires Up Test Sector

The emergence of triple-play services is having an impact on the test and measurement sector, with a number of companies announcing new products and customer wins in recent days.

The most notable is the news from Irish specialist Shenick Network Systems Ltd. , which announced Tuesday it is supplying T-Com , the domestic fixed-line operating division of German giant Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), with a number of its diversifEye platforms to be used in multiple labs around Germany. (See T-Com Tests With Shenick.)

T-Com is using the four-slot diversifEye 8400 product in a number of test labs around Germany to stress-test VOIP, video, and broadband equipment to ensure it's up to the task of delivering a triple-play package. The Shenick platform does this by simulating multiple end users that are simultaneously requesting and using video, voice, and data services (See Shenick Adds IPTV Enhancements.)

The news comes as T-Com announces the official launch of its triple-play service, T-Home, which includes IPTV services based on Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s technology, high-speed broadband, and VOIP services. (See Microsoft Wins IPTV Deal at DT.)

The German carrier has been investing heavily in building out a new access network in Germany's 10 main cities to enable it to provide bandwidth-hungry service packages, though it is facing some regulatory intervention. (See Alcatel, ECI Land DT Gig, DT Flings Billions at Fiber Access, and Achtung! Regulators Force DT to Share.)

Without carriers such as DT developing such triple-play packages, Shenick would be sunk, as it has bet the company on the takeup of the diversifEye platform, which also comes in a two-slot version. But it has hit a sweet spot with some of telecom's biggest players, having picked up deals with the likes of Chunghwa Telecom Co. Ltd. (NYSE: CHT), Orange (NYSE: FTE), KT Corp. , NTT Group (NYSE: NTT), Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), as well as vendors such as Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) and Redback Networks Inc. , says Shenick founder and chief marketing officer Robert Winters. (See Redback Tests With Shenick and Lucent Selects Shenick Ethernet Testers.)

Winters says the company had just one customer in 2003 and now has more than 70 and is heading towards profitability in 2007. The vendor has about $10 million worth of backing from VCs including Innovacom . (See Innovacom Leads New Shenick Investment.)

So who is Shenick up against for these deals? Its competitors are "the traditional lab-based players –- Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A), Ixia (Nasdaq: XXIA), Spirent Communications ," says Winters. Agilent, as it happens, had IPTV test news of its own today. (See Agilent's N2X Tests IPTV.)

And what about other triple-play specialists? "Lab-based testing isn't an area that's really attracted specialist startups. The newcomers have been in the network monitoring space -- Brix Networks Inc. , IneoQuest Technologies Inc. , and QoSmetrics Inc. , for example," says Winters. Ineoquest, though, has already moved into the router test space. (See IneoQuest Stresses Video Switches, Moto, Juniper Target MSOs, and Brix Launches Triple Test for Triple Play.)

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Triple-play testing was also a topic of discussion at the Broadband World Forum Europe in Paris last week.

There, JDSU (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) announced it has added IPTV stream monitoring capabilities to its QT-600 probe that sits in carrier networks. The product already analyzes data and VOIP traffic. (See JDSU Adds Monitoring.)

According to the vendor's VP of sales for Europe, Peter Collingwood, the probe can decode and analyze more than 500 MPEG-2 and/or MPEG-4 streams for impairments, and report on quality metrics such as delay, jitter, and packet loss. He says Orange (NYSE: FTE) has been trialing the new video capabilities for a while.

The vendor also recently announced an IPTV test equipment deal with China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CHA) for field testers and network probes. (See JDSU Wins at China Telecom.)

JDSU also added a 10-GigE module to its ONT lab-based test tools that enable carriers and vendors to check metro Ethernet equipment -- critical infrastructure for triple-play service delivery -- for standards and specification conformance across a range of interfaces. (See JDSU Adds 10GigE to ONT.)

Collingwood noted that this doesn't put JDSU up against the 10-GigE test tools from the likes of Agilent, Ixia, and Spirent, which provide equipment for stress testing such gear in the labs. "This is testing at the physical layer, not at Layer 3 and above," says the JDSU man. It does, though, bring JDSU into direct competition with Anritsu Corp. , he added.

Spirent's team in Paris was also talking up IPTV testing as a hot area, announcing Tiscali SpA 's Dutch broadband operations as a new triple-play testing customer. Tiscali is using the vendor's TestCenter to test the capabilities of its IPTV, data, and VOIP infrastructure by simulating thousands of users making simultaneous IP address requests, requesting video streams using IGMP (Internet Group Management Protocol), and generating Internet traffic. (See Spirent Wins Tiscali Deal.)

Spirent, which is getting back on its feet after a company-wide reorganization, also highlighted a problem for service providers wanting to analyze the quality of their video traffic. (See Spirent Stabilizes.)

Jeff Schmitz, marketing VP at Spirent's service assurance division, noted that DRM (digital rights management) protection can sometimes make it difficult for service providers to analyze the quality of their video streams, as it "can mask some of the information needed to perform full quality-of-experience testing."

Also at the Paris show, Spirent announced its involvement in the upcoming Global MSF Interoperability (GMI) event organized by the MultiService Forum , as well as a deal with Siemens Communications Group 's professional services division, which will use Spirent's SwissQual mobile network performance monitoring tool to test the quality of carrier customer wireless networks. (See Siemens Selects Spirent and Spirent Wins Tiscali Deal.)

Other recent test-and-measurement news of note includes:

  • F-Secure Unveils Internet Security

  • Aeroflex, AT4 Test WiMax

  • Ixia Delays Q3

  • Agilent, AT4 Win WiMax Deal

  • Speakeasy Picks Empirix

  • Anritsu Fields WiMax Tester

  • Telchemy Intros Tester

  • Ixia, Anite Team Up

  • O2 Tests With Spirent

  • Tektronix Tests TD-SCDMA

  • Anritsu Uses PrismTech

  • Anritsu Adds ATM

  • Ixia Offers IMS, VOIP Tester

  • Ixia Shrinks IxVoice

  • EANTC Completes Ethernet Test

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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