Spanish telco giant Telefonica has plumped for Canada’s Mariner for end to end monitoring across its new Global Video Platform (GVP), which will deliver its IPTV and OTT (Over The Top) services worldwide.
Already delivering both managed IPTV and OTT TV in Brazil, GVP is based on Microsoft’s Mediaroom middleware for the IPTV and OTT Networks’ MiB technology for OTT delivery. This enables GVP to provide two service types, managed pay TV delivered either via IPTV or sometimes a hybrid using satellite for some linear channels, and a pure OTT service called ‘PLAY’.
Having already chosen Mediaroom the decision to use Mariner’s xVu video monitoring package was little surprise given that this was the first monitoring product chosen by Microsoft for the middleware. xVu was already well integrated in Mediaroom making its deployment easier for Telefonica, and it addressed fundamental issues of IPTV service management that the telco had recognized as essential for ensuring Quality of Service.
“We chose Mariner xVu real-time IP video analytics software based on its unique ability to identify network and content issues affecting multiple consumers, as well as provide in-home and neighborhood status for individual consumers,” said Luis Velo, Head of Media Services at Telefónica Digital.
Velo was referring to Mariner’s focus on the end customer experience through monitoring of activity on the customer’s set top box, rather than just within the network. This makes it more likely to pick up short lived or intermittent problems that often arise in the access network or the customer’s home, caused perhaps by a faulty HDMI cable, software incompatibility, or interference from a powerful electrical appliance plugged in nearby.
Such problems often do not register with traditional network focused IPTV monitoring equipment because they are too transient, and often lead to unnecessary onsite visits that fail to resolve the problem, sometimes with the operator swapping out the set top box in desperation. Meanwhile the customer becomes more disenchanted because the fault still occurs and ends up churning to another service provider.
Such factors are leading major IPTV operators like Telefonica to seek monitoring solutions that are well integrated with the rest of the platform and measure QoS right into the home, as well in the network. It is important that the right measurements are taken, since the Quality of Experience (QoE) is also determined by higher level aspects of the service such as the performance of the EPG (Electronic Program Guide) and channel change time, audio/video synchronization, which can all cause problems for IPTV.
The ability to have this information quickly available to help desk staff so that they know what customers are calling about and do not have to ask them to explain the problem in detail is also an important contributor to the QoE.
The decision by Telefonica, Europe’s second-largest telco after Deutsche Telekom, to unify video delivery on a worldwide basis via a cloud-type infrastructure, is a growing trend among multinational pay-TV providers to rationalize their operations for the multiscreen era. It no longer makes sense to maintain separate silos for different broadcast delivery sectors such as satellite, cable and IPTV. In 2012 Orange France started migrating its pay-TV customers onto a common infrastructure from separate IPTV and DTH platforms using a platform provided by its sister company Viaccess-Orca, although that does not have the same scale or reach as Telefonica’s proposed GVP.
Like Orange and also Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica’s pay-TV services are mostly IPTV with some DTH to reach subscribers outside its fixed line footprint or, as in Brazil, to get going in markets where it had little presence on the ground. GVP will combine the managed IPTV and DTH infrastructures with unmanaged networks, to incorporate emerging OTT services within a common transport platform. With Mediaroom at the core, it will also utilize associated Microsoft technologies, notably its PlayReady DRM, and Silverlight media application framework, as well as now the Mariner monitoring.