06.21.2010 11:47 AM
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Western Broadband improves operations with Volicon Observer

Western Broadband, a cable television operator serving several communities in central Arizona, has installed the Observer Remote Program Monitor (RPM) 100 system from Volicon to provide continuous quality of experience (QoE) monitoring for the company’s top-tier lineup of 14 off-air and 14 HD channels.

Since installing the RPM 100, the cable operator’s transmission troubleshooting has gone from a reactive process driven by incoming subscriber compliant calls to a proactive system in which it can accurately identify and troubleshoot problems before they turn into customer complaints, according to Jerry "Chief" Scullawl, director of technical operations for Western Broadband.

"As a result, the overall number of trouble calls has been reduced, and our staff is freed from having to perform manual scans,” he said. “I know instantly when an error has occurred because the RPM 100 automatically sends me an e-mail notification on my BlackBerry, complete with a clip showing the problem.”

Western Broadband provides triple-play services to the Arizona communities of Saddle Brooke, Sun Lakes, SunBird and Robson Ranch. A fiber-optic link brings in broadcast channels from Tucson, and these channels go through two repeater stations before reaching Western Broadband subscribers. In the past, this made it more difficult to isolate and solve transmission problems. Previously, when the company received a customer complaint, operators used a Slingbox device to view the broadcasts and try to identify the problem.

Now, the Observer RPM 100 installed at the company's headend in SaddleBrooke continuously scans all 28 top-tier channels, automatically issuing an e-mail alert when it detects a video or audio fault such as black screen or low audio with the RPM 100's QoE module. This process traditionally has required human intervention to spot the on-screen problems.

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