New software from Rohde & Schwarz improves broadcast network QoS

Broadcasters now have a new tool to help ensure the fail-safe performance of their networks, called BC-Netstate. It's new network management software introduced by Rohde & Schwarz at the AES show in Rome. The remote access software is currently available for purchase.

A graphical configuration tool simplifies the integration of all devices, eliminating the need for time-consuming and costly complex third-party processes. The software works with cable, satellite and terrestrial broadcasting networks and makes it possible to monitor the entire broadcasting network from a central network operations center (NOC).

The software displays the broadcast network on a geographical map and integrates all devices (regardless of manufacturer) at a transmitter site or within a network. All device parameters are scanned, processed and displayed. Remote control is also possible over a web interface.

Users can set up the configuration themselves and modify it to meet changing requirements. If the network is expanded, new devices can be integrated. Logic circuits can be developed without programming knowledge. The logic generator includes comprehensive libraries that offer numerous ways to make logical connections.

The software offers major management functionality such as error management, alarm correlation and network quality testing. In many digital terrestrial TV networks, the modulation error ratio (MER) and the transmitter output power is important service attributes for achieving the prescribed network coverage. Any decrease in these values during broadcasting directly impacts TV viewers.

The customizable interface enables the user to immediately identify fault messages and quickly forward them as a text message or e-mail to the appropriate technician. The result is a significantly higher fail-safety. Acoustic signal tones can also be used to indicate new faults. When an alarm is assessed as an actual network fault, incident tickets can be created. These tickets are sequentially processed in the network.

Broadcast network operators have service level agreements (SLAs) with customers and must be able to prove that they have delivered the quality of service specified in the SLA. Using the new software, critical network parameters can continuously be monitored, stored and calculated in accordance with contractual specifications.

Alarms and fault messages are added up, statistically evaluated and documented. BC-Netstate controls the devices using simple network management protocol (SNMP). A protocol converter enables communications with devices that are not SNMP-compatible, for flexibility and an open system.