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Test & Measurement

Test Firms Tackle IPTV, VOIP

IPTV and VOIP are the hot topics among the telecom sector's test-and-measurement firms at present, with big-name vendors and specialist players touting new services, tools, and capabilities.

Telco video's test beds
IPTV test tools are in hot demand as carriers fire up video-over-broadband services, and equipment vendors battle to develop deployable kits. (See IPTV Testing Goes Standard and IPTV: New Signs of Life .)

Now the IPTV test sector has moved onto another stage, with vendors touting the availability of ready-made test beds where carriers can check out various network configurations and video applications.

The most notable of these is the initiative by HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), which have set up two IPTV Centers of Excellence, one in Grenoble, France, and the other in Richardson, Texas, for service providers. (See HP, Intel Test IPTV.)

The firms say the centers allow "performance and scalability evaluation, characterization, sizing, full proof-of-concept testing, and integration of IPTV solutions into the network and the operational and business support systems."

Along the same lines is the expansion of the Resilient IP (Resip) laboratory in Munich, run by Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) and Siemens Communications Group , to add IPTV capabilities to VOIP test beds. Naturally, the infrastructure in place comes from the vendor partners. (See Juniper, Siemens Test IPTV.)

BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), meanwhile, has been putting the Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) CRS-1 core router through its paces in its own lab, to ensure that the product can take the strain of handling up to 40,000 separate video streams simultaneously. And apparently, it can. BT is set to launch its IPTV service, BT Vision, some time in the coming weeks. (See KT, BT Tout Cisco CRS-1.)

Other recent IPTV test news of note includes: video quality testing enhancements to Shenick Network Systems Ltd. 's diversifEye platform; new video monitoring capabilities from Radcom Ltd. ; the addition of video generation capabilities to the JDSU (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) DTS-330 test tool; and an upgrade to the Ixia (Nasdaq: XXIA) Triple Play tester. (See Shenick Enhances diversifEye, Ixia Triples Triple Play, Radcom to Unveil IPTV Monitor, and JDSU Tests IP Video.)

Adding to VOIP test noise
VOIP has long been fertile ground for test vendors and is growing fast, with the market set to be worth nearly $640 million in 2008, from $163.5 million in 2003. And with voice service quality such a big issue, there's room for specialist vendors to take a piece of the action from established players. (See Study: VOIP Quality Getting Worse, Survey: VOIP Quality Is Breaking Up, and Report Hisses at VOIP Quality.)

Companies such as Brix Networks Inc. and Empirix Inc. are well known VOIP test specialists, but until recently, privately held Canadian service assurance firm Minacom had hardly registered on the scene.

The Montreal-based firm has engaged in a publicity blitz in the past few months, launching a self-install VOIP test tool, reporting on VOIP service quality, and announcing partnerships. (See Minacom Unveils VOIP Test Service, Study: VOIP Quality Getting Worse, Tollgrade, Minacom Team Up, Minacom, Cedar Point Interop, Minacom, Telarix Partner, Minacom, Sunrise Partner, and Edgewater Supports Minacom.)

The company, which says it generates profits from annual revenues of $10 million, claims more than 70 carriers, including BT, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Orange (NYSE: FTE), and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), and a host of softswitch vendors among its customers.

Minacom isn't the only company that's been shouting about VOIP testing recently, though. Here's our pick of other recent news highlights:

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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