IneoQuest Probes SDV

Video test system specialist IneoQuest Technologies Inc. has extended its existing capabilities into the emerging switched digital video (SDV) sector by introducing a PC-based application that helps operators emulate and monitor SDV services.

IneoQuest says its SDV troubleshooter, the IQDialogue Desktop Edition, can emulate as many as 100,000 SDV-enabled set-tops and verify whether they are working properly with edge QAMs and other elements of the operator's switching platform, according to Gino Dion, IneoQuest's VP of business development. (See IneoQuest Tests SDV Networks.)

The test vendor's move comes as SDV grows in popularity with U.S. cable operators. It has been deployed broadly by operators such as Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), with more limited deployments or trials at Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Cox Communications Inc. , and Charter Communications Inc. . SDV enables operators to conserve bandwidth by delivering channels in "switched" tier only when a customer in a given service group selects them for viewing, rather than delivering all channels to every customer. Operators are also expected to use SDV for targeted advertising in the future. (See Who Makes What: Switched Digital Video .)

IneoQuest says it developed its system in response to operator requests for better visibility into their SDV systems, including ways to track channel changes and determine the root cause of delayed channel changes.

"We take a look at every part of the signaling process and figure out the delay and where it's coming from," says Dion.

Dion says the new tool has been designed to support the industry's two primary SDV architectures –- Comcast's Next Generation On Demand (NGOD) platform, and Time Warner Cable's Interactive Services Architecture (ISA).

Dion says six North American cable operators have deployed IneoQuest's SDV system, with another dozen or so trialing it in their labs as they complete vendor selections.

But IneoQuest isn't the only video test vendor responding to the MSOs' service assurance needs. Although itaas Inc. , which makes an SDV client emulator, looks to be IneoQuest's closest competitor in this category, vendors such as Symmetricom Inc. (Nasdaq: SYMM) and Mixed Signals Inc. also have added SDV monitoring tools to their product portfolios. (See itaas Simulates SDV, Symmetricom Expands Cable Play, and Mixed Signals Checks SDV's Heartbeat .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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