Delivering IPTV Quality of Experience

Not too long ago, I recently authored a whitepaper on the importance of delivering subscriber quality of experience (QoE) for IPTV success, a project that was commissioned by Spirent Communications. I've been getting a lot of emails and calls lately about this paper, as it seems to have touched on a number of important considerations service providers must take into account as they go down the path of IPTV service delivery.

The paper addresses the current benefits and opportunities for telcos entering the video market, the challenges of developing the network infrastructure required to deliver the highest IPTV QoE, the best method for assessing subscriber QoE, and key requirements for IPTV testing and network assurance.

The gist of the paper is this: As telcos rush to deploy new IP-based network infrastructures and launch new video services, they are faced with a unique set of challenges. First and foremost, they must deliver optimal quality of experience (QoE) to their new and existing subscribers – if they don’t, they risk mass defection to their competition. It's essential, then, that telcos employ a comprehensive video and IPTV testing solution that ensures quality of service not only at each element in the network, but end-to-end in the network as well. Such service assurance initiatives must effectively deal with transport and signaling issues, employ the most relevant and accurate method of measuring customer quality of experience, and provide ongoing monitoring and management of the live network.

A lot of IPTV discussion has focused on QoS considerations -- making sure that the quality of the service delivered to the subscriber is as optimal as possible. However, just focusing on IPTV QoS is potentially shortsighted, since many impairments in video service can sneak under the thresholds established to detect problems. You need to be able to assess the quality of the subscriber experience -- the actual quality of the delivered video signal and performance of the service at the network end-point -- and not just rely on gathering metrics from the network core or edge. What's more, video is far more problematic than voice, and using the same VoIP service testing and monitoring methodologies for IPTV  simply won't do the trick.
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