Title: President and CEO, Mixed Signals
Broadband Background: Conley is responsible for Mixed Signals’ strategy, long-term growth and day-to-day operations. Prior to Mixed Signals, he was SVP of operations and a member of the original team at GoldPocket Interactive, which developed advanced media solutions for broadcasters, operators and wireless carriers. He went to GoldPocket from Penske Capital Partners, a New York private equity firm focused on acquisitions and operations of large private and publicly traded companies. Conley holds a bachelors in economics from Davidson College.
Mixed Signals was at the IPTV World Forum last week. Is it your sense that video quality monitoring is still an urgent matter for IPTV service providers?
Absolutely. Video quality monitoring is more important than ever. In fact, IPTV service providers, like cable operators, are realizing that monitoring actual video and audio quality has a tremendous impact on reducing subscriber churn and increasing profitability. Historically, video and audio quality monitoring in the IPTV space has been reduced to overly simplified measurements such as MDI or MOS, which do not point the service provider to the root cause of a problem. Because of this, service providers are now looking to products like Mixed Signals’ Sentry to give them an edge on the competition, even after they have made investments in older probe-type equipment.
Even more so than for traditional cable MSOs?
Yes. Like any new entrant to the video distribution space, an IPTV service provider faces an uphill battle for subscribers. These providers need every advantage they can muster to both attract and retain subscribers. While they can certainly draw subscribers to them with lower prices and differentiated services, unless they offer consistent uptime with a high quality product, they will never find long-term success. In addition, many IPTV service providers have engineers who are knowledgeable in IP networking, but have little understanding of video and audio content. Once they achieve an ongoing operation with a significant subscriber base, actual video and audio quality monitoring becomes the primary need.
You also play in the digital program insertion (DPI) space. Does it take anything extra to monitor DPI streams?
Mixed Signals recognizes the challenges involved in delivering local avails early on. Real-time program insertion requires nearly flawless communication and timing among technologies from a variety of vendors. Although it is a challenge to monitor this activity on the content level, Sentry has the ability to decode embedded data, such as SCTE-35, in real time. Sentry’s local avail audit reports contain key information to help operators maintain the low failure rates required by advertisers. Sentry can be upgraded with this capability without any degradation in overall performance.
How is your OCAP/Tru2Way work progressing? We have you down as providing carousel management diagnostics for a leading MSO in our February issue.
Through a software upgrade to Sentry, Mixed Signals provides Tru2Way test and monitoring tools for most of the top MSOs in the United States. This continues to be an important product for operators in 2008 as additional Tru2Way carousels and applications roll out across divisions of each MSO. Sentry provides real-time decode capability for Tru2Way (and other) carousels. Reports generate the entire multi-dimensional tree structure of the carousel, and Sentry’s database tracks all changes and problems over time. If any issue occurs with the carousel or its applications, Sentry notifies the appropriate engineers. Sentry’s Tru2Way enhancement is best used for launch testing of applications, verification of changes made to data and applications, and ongoing uptime and performance monitoring.
Isn’t this technology, however, trending away from carousels?
In the cable space, carousels and carousel-based solutions are still the best means of delivering critical data and applications to digital set-top boxes. In the IPTV space, there are alternatives, which take advantage of direct IP connections from set-top boxes to servers in the headend.
What are the applications developers up to? Are they beginning to write to this platform?
Application developers are beginning to take note of the opportunity Tru2Way provides. Before third party applications hit the mainstream, operators must roll out both the server-client (set-top box) infrastructure and the certification testing capabilities to facilitate mass deployment. Time Warner Cable, currently the deployment leader in Tru2Way-enabled set-top boxes, is having great success with its advanced navigation application. This serves as a showcase application for the capabilities of the platform. We believe that application developers will begin to participate actively once the infrastructure is fully in place at both Time Warner Cable and Comcast. This will give them the critical mass they need to generate substantial revenue with the applications. I actually believe that multi-platform developers like Google and Microsoft are best positioned to take advantage of this new medium.