The demand for Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and the stakes for triple-play providers have never been higher. Telecommunication operators must launch, deliver and market IPTV services effectively to attract more subscribers. Significant network stress from video on-demand services and high-definition video complicates the task of bringing consistent high-quality content to subscribers.

Home network-monitoring that empowers service providers to enhance the quality of their on-demand services will be increasingly critical to the delivery of high-quality content as the global popularity of IPTV grows. The number of global IPTV subscribers is projected to rise to more than 81 million by 2013, according to Multimedia Research Group.

For IPTV to gain enduring market traction, triple-play service providers must optimize the delivery of these services with the right tools. However, providers face diverse challenges to help ensure the delivery of high-quality IP video services and efficient customer service. To mitigate these challenges, triple-play providers are using a variety of test-and-measurement solutions.

Home network-monitoring solutions, for example, provide technicians visibility and service-assurance capabilities of the customer’s network and real customer experience. These solutions include video probes, home-networking software, operations support systems, and triple-play and Ethernet probes. In-service pro-active monitoring, diagnostic testing and on-demand, real-time data collection help determine service faults and the root cause. These capabilities help reduce the high number of truck rolls and call-handling times.

Several factors can contribute to degraded IPTV services, including stressed network bandwidth, IP packet loss, impulse noise from external sources and jitter. Stressed network bandwidth can result in the loss of video packets and deteriorated picture quality. Packet loss can cause subscribers to experience a brief missing video segment or extended picture-quality issues. Short impulse noise can cause service-delivery errors and an impact video picture quality. Jitter, shaky pulses in the high-frequency signal can disrupt the set-top-box decoding capability. Home network-monitoring solutions identify the stressor causing degraded service, capture critical data to measure the impact on the home network and pinpoint the root of the problem to help enable customer support teams to resolve the issues.

Telefónica, for example, operates Spain’s leading IPTV and on-demand service Imagenio to its nearly 800,000 customers. In addition to its IPTV services, Telefónica delivers diverse broadband and telecommunications services, including fixed-line and mobile communications, Internet and digital TV to 295 million customers in 25 countries in Europe, South America and North America. The company recently expanded its on-demand services in Latin America with IPTV deployments in Brazil and Chile. One JDSU product, Home PM, enables Telefónica to identify and demark problems automatically between the service delivery platforms, the core and access networks and the home network. In four months, Home PM helped Telefónica to lower its operating costs by improving customer service and reducing the number of truck rolls.

As the opportunity for triple-play providers to reach more IPTV subscribers grows, customers’ expectation for high-quality services also increases. The right tools to help test and eradicate service issues are imperative for providers to enhance the delivery of IPTV and eclipse their competitors offering similar services.

Jean Schmitt, Go-To-Market Video and Access Manager/Communications Test & Measurement Business Unit, JDSU

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