Berlin, Germany ” At the 2007 Broadband World Forum here, Agilent Technologies showed off a new software option for its handheld Ethernet performance tester, FrameScope Pro. The new option simplifies the deployment and troubleshooting of IPTV services and enables service quality tests at the residential gateway.
According to Alois Hauk, vice president and general manager of Agilent's Photonics and Network Test Division, validating network integrity and transport quality of service are critical to ensuring a high quality of experience to new video-service subscribers.
“Technicians of telecom service providers who deploy Ethernet-based video need appropriate tools to analyze the network and service conditions at a residential gateway,” he said. “Visual and aural inspections of the delivered content are less reliable methods to detect marginal network conditions; analysis of the transport stream and service transactions can reveal undesired network behavior before artifacts and drop-outs become visible and audible.”
With the new option for the FrameScope Pro, he said, technicians can connect to the residential gateway and acquire statistics of MPEG-2 transport stream issues such as loss of synchronization and continuity and transport errors.
Measuring the Media Delivery Index (MDI) and analyzing service transactions like channel changes provide metrics that closely relate to the subscriber's quality of experience.
A customizable, three-stage scoring scheme allows service groups to implement commonly agreed acceptance levels for all relevant quality metrics; marginal or unacceptable parameters are highlighted automatically.
This simplifies the deployment process, said Hauk, and lets technicians interpret test results faster and with less technical training. The FrameScope Pro's built-in remote control allows expert users to remotely assist service technicians through Web access.
With the new software option, FrameScope Pro supports both IGMP (Internet Group Management Protocol) and RTSP (Real-time Streaming Protocol) to control the IPTV channel setup, which enables test of multicast video streaming as well as of RTSP-based Video on Demand streams.
Transport quality metrics derived from the sequence and timestamp information in the RTP header include packet count, packet loss ratio and packet jitter. MPEG-2 transport streams carrying MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 multicast video are measured for ETSI TR 101 290 parameters and Media Delivery Index, as defined by RFC 4445. In addition to transport-quality metrics, the FrameScope Pro also measures average throughput, and key service transaction parameters such as IGMP join/ leave latency and channel-zapping time.
The new Agilent FrameScope Pro software option N2620A-071 combines IPTV Transport Stream Statistics, Media Delivery Index and Transaction Analysis. It is available today; prices start at $1,880. Current FrameScope Pro users can purchase an individual license code to upgrade their instruments.