The following blog post is by David Hering, product line manager at JDSU.

Video use continues to change rapidly as more people demand to view it anytime, anywhere, and on any device. While more convenient for viewers, it leaves network operators with a serious problem to solve. How can they offer high-quality video services when they lack control of the end device, the location, and, in some cases, the network it travels through?

The days of dedicated video networks are waning as operators converge traditional linear video networks with data networks to keep up with demand. Data networks are better suited for on-demand video, but these services are unpredictable and can create massive traffic volume swings, straining networks carrying an operator’s multiscreen video services.

“These new software-based networks are cheaper to operate and they can change their characteristics in real time to meet the needs of today’s video viewers.” – JDSU’s David Hering

To make matters worse, competitors like Netflix and YouTube use operator networks and mine data regarding service provider performance. This information is then published to viewers, even to the point of ranking service providers or qualifying them for standard definition or high definition. To remain competitive, operators need better visibility into viewers’ quality of experience (QoE) now more than ever before.

These issues have created a challenge for operators, as current networks are hardware-based with specific hardware trying to solve quality issues reactively. The fact that video changes on a network in real time means hardware-based solutions cannot keep up with the needs of today’s content providers. Operators can either build out their networks to handle heavy peaks, or they can design agile networks that can scale immediately.

This last problem is the key to solving the video issues that operators face. In order to make their networks less costly and more efficient, many operators have begun moving away from hardware-based to virtualized networks. These new software-based networks are cheaper to operate and they can change their characteristics in real time to meet the needs of today’s video viewers.

The only piece missing is a software-based video-monitoring solution that can monitor the video—regardless of its source—from its origination point all the way to the viewer’s device. Such a solution, known as video service assurance (VSA), is now available with continued development that will give network operators detailed visibility into video service quality. VSA works across different access networks, including Ethernet, xDSL, fiber, HFC, WiFi, 3G, and 4G LTE, so operators can monitor video quality in any network used to access videos. VSA works by placing software agents throughout a network that can qualify video service at different locations, even to the end device. By combining real-time end user QoE data with quality measurements made at different points in the network, trending issues are quickly identified and fixed before they become major problems.

For the first time, network operators can gain real-time control of the video quality running throughout all of their networks. This capability will provide better video quality for viewers and will allow operators to increase revenue by offering new products to viewers and premium SLAs to content providers that rely on these networks to reach their customers. Finally, because VSA solutions are software-based, they can help operators reduce monitoring costs as they continue to virtualize their networks.

[Reminder: Working with the largest digital and communications service providers from around the world, JDSU is participating in several Catalyst programs and speaking panels – including “Ensuring the Best Multi-Screen Customer Experience” –  at TM Forum Live! in Nice, France (June 1 – 4).]

David Hering manages JDSU products used to monitor and troubleshoot video services from ingest to the end user.  Joining JDSU in 2006 David leverages more than 20 years of test and measurement experience to enable visibility to all parts of the delivery chain including headends, IP transport, access, as well as home networks and devices. 

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