Spirent Latest to Tackle Video Test
Spirent says it can replicate common IPTV and video scenarios encountered on telecom video platforms. The company says it has developed these scenarios by working closely with more than a dozen major carriers. Spirent says the scenarios show how different video service quality challenges can be overcome by using a combination of pre- and post-service deployment test tools, such as the firm's Avalanche and Abacus 5000 lab testers and service assurance software products, combined with professional services.
Spirent is combining a number of test processes, which include: voice, video, and data applications load testing; emulation of end-user devices; measuring channel zapping times; running IP network impairment tests; comparing video stream quality measurements; and monitoring all the network elements deployed in an Ethernet-based triple-play access network.
"Video quality is the key to success, but operators have limited experience of how telco video systems and services will work, and they need to ensure they can match the quality of service that the cable operators deliver," says Spirent's VP of technical strategy, Mark Fishburn.
Ensuring the quality of telco TV and video services is one of the major topics being addressed here this week. Spirent, which recently announced a video quality assessment partnership with test solutions provider Psytechnics Ltd., is just one of a number of test-and-measurement players on the show floor here aiming to attract the attention of service providers that know they need to deliver a top-quality video feed to customers if they're to challenge the cable operators and satellite service providers (see Spirent, Psytechnics Team on Video Testing).
Acterna Corp. already announced its approach, while Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) is also showing off a new suite of triple-play test tools (see Acterna Puts Video to the Test and Agilent Tests Triple Play).
These prominent players are joined by specialists such as IneoQuest Technologies Inc., which is banging the video test drum here (see IneoQuest Spews Video Test News). All these companies follow in the wake of specialist service assurance players such as Brix Networks Inc. and QoSmetrics, which already have their solutions out in the market (see QoSmetrics Offers Video Test Tools and Brix Launches IP Video Test Portal).
But because the carrier video test market is so new, and there are few industry standards or recognized ways to tackle the issues of IPTV/telco video service quality, each of these test vendors is taking a notably different, and often proprietary, approach.
Fishburn notes that while the Psytechnics Video Agent that's now embedded in the Abacus 5000 equipment tester is based on the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)'s J.144 standard for testing cable network video gear, and the company's Converged Network Impairment Emulator is based on a Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) initiative, there's still a lot of work to be done on developing industry standards in the IPTV area, especially in post-deployment scenarios.
The Spirent man notes, for example, that there are a lot of mechanisms that allow a service provider to determine the quality of a video stream in the network. He says the challenge is to take those mechanisms, such as determining packet loss, and provide a measurement that has some meaning for the carrier's operations team. "Packet loss is the key to the quality of video running over telco networks."
Fishburn says standards developments could come from a number of different industry bodies, but that Spirent is keeping its plans about any involvement in standards processes close to its chest for now. "We have some plans in place, but we're not commenting on them at the moment."
That's in contrast to Acterna, which is already getting involved in further developments at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading