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28 November 2019

Telestream adds fuel to DAA fire with QA monitoring warning

Emphasizing the recent integration of Tektronix video test assets, US video workflow vendor Telestream has addressed the imperative nature of rethinking video quality assurance (QA) monitoring when deploying R-PHY (remote physical layer), in a fitting follow up to our comprehensive Cable Congress coverage over the past fortnight. While not a direct supplier of cable network access equipment, Telestream’s network probe and analytics clout make it more than qualified to provide R-PHY advice.

Bringing video teams into the fold late in the strategic planning for deploying distributed access architectures (DAA) is a dangerous game to play, as we warned last week, potentially causing expensive problems further down the line.

From the QA perspective, Telestream cautions that cable operators risk being blind to technical issues bubbling away deep in the network without the tools to properly asses the health and performance of video services across hundreds or even thousands of R-PHY nodes. In a whitepaper cowritten with TV Technology, the case is argued for proper video monitoring technology in R-PHY deployments, otherwise cable operators risk being highly inefficient in the allocation of resources, technicians and service trucks, according to Telestream’s Director of Product Management, Kirk George.

“If something goes wrong – without the proper monitoring – it’s difficult and time consuming to identify which node is faulty,” said George. So, what Telestream proposes is a new probing technology for monitoring the IP access network and the protocols used on the R-PHY network to ensure video is delivered properly.

Its Surveyor TS monitoring probe and Intelligent Video Management System can together identify the problematic content and its location in the network – across the entire distribution network including the new R-PHY deployment. The technology correlates data from each monitoring location to head off issues before they can exacerbate, notes George.

Telestream’s Surveyor TS has done this at Unitymedia in Germany (which has recently changed hands from Liberty Global to Vodafone) where it ensures QoS across the Horizon video delivery chain, including Surveyor ABR for the OTT service Horizon Go – enabling passive monitoring of the output of the packager and accessibility assurance post-CDN. However, Vodafone has begun phasing out the Horizon platform for GigaTV which does not bode well for Telestream, but that’s a story to follow up another day.

Distance is another challenge when removing the PHY layer from the CCAP Core and placing it closer to the home, resulting in timing and synchronization issues. Telestream says Surveyor TS will tell operators when video traffic is delivered at the appropriate time, but doesn’t explain exactly how.

Telestream’s recent R-PHY push appears to be based on the combination of engineering teams from Telestream and Tektronix, following the deal’s completion in July. This involved integrating Telestream’s iVMS ASM management system across the full video monitoring product portfolio where relevant, specifically with Tektronix Sentry probes which the announcement credits for being key to bridging technology between the two product groups.

It followed this up more recently by adding new post-origin content monitoring capabilities for ABR streaming media within its iQ ABR monitoring systems. Being an ABR system, this is tailormade for monitoring OTT video and so its application in DAA deployments is apt, given the need to accommodate demand for streaming traffic over cable networks.

Telestream has therefore enhanced its Surveyor TS family of network probes, which are mostly targeted at monitoring ABR streaming, to monitor video delivery performance across R-PHY DAA networks.

Such adaptation by a vendor like Telestream suggests the rise of DAA networks and even fiber deployments could potentially disrupt the QoE video analytics space – where those diving deeper and deeper into the network to get something as close as possible to an end-to-end monitoring system will thrive.