Heavy Reading

IPTV Phase II: QOE Is Mission Critical

With the number of IPTV subscribers now over 10 million worldwide, telco deployment of IPTV is moving into a new phase – the rapid ramp-up of subscribers. By 2010, about 50 million customers will subscribe to IPTV services, making video a critical application not only to bolster sagging revenues and stem customer churn, but also to provide an opportunity for telcos to firmly establish themselves in the entertainment market – and potentially add new applications and features to further enhance revenue.

Although IPTV is a new service for telcos, the actual service itself – delivery of conventional video programming to the consumer market – is well established and dominated in most markets by entrenched cable or satellite service providers. Those operators are already delivering many of the advanced features (video on demand, pay-per-view, HDTV) that telcos are counting on to drive customer growth. Ultimately, the key differentiator for telco video is IP, which can deliver a level of interactivity and new advanced services that conventional cable and satellite networks can't match.

But to leverage that IP advantage, telcos must first offer a viewing experience that meets the level of picture quality subscribers have come to expect. At minimum, IPTV has to provide as good a quality of experience (QOE) to subscribers as they get from competitive operators.

The need to deliver and maintain IPTV performance has led to the emergence of a relatively new sector in the test and measurement industry: products targeted specifically to monitor and calibrate IPTV QOE. Solutions are available from both established vendors and a much greater number of smaller firms, more than a few of which have their roots in providing test solutions for ensuring the quality of voice over IP (VOIP) and/or data services.

IPTV Phase II: QOE Is Mission Critical identifies and analyzes the core issues involved in determining the QOE of IPTV services. The report explores the issues that affect how to objectively determine QOE in a way that reflects the subscriber's subjective point of view. It identifies and evaluates key standards and sets out the most likely timetable for the emergence of standards that would give service providers greater confidence in choosing solutions for measuring the quality of their TV services.


The report analyzes IPTV QOE test solutions offered by 16 leading suppliers, focusing on the markets targeted by those vendors and the relative strength and weaknesses of their offerings.


Telcos need real-world metrics to be able to verify the health of the video signal as it traverses the live IP network. Consequently, the ability to measure the quality of the video signal delivered to real subscribers is a huge issue that will directly affect the success of telco TV. This is also the area of testing which, under certain circumstances, can be the most expensive for telcos. So while at the very least telcos need to know whether their IPTV delivery system is providing acceptable picture quality to the subscriber, there is one other key parameter that affects subscriber QOE: the time it takes the IPTV delivery system to change channels in response to the subscriber's command.

What algorithm a vendor uses for determining video quality, as well as other capabilities it might have for measuring certain key parameters, all work toward offering a more comprehensive calculation of subscriber QOE. In addition to stating what algorithm(s) they use, the 16 vendors in this report were asked whether they supported or did not support seven key QOE measurements. The parameters included in this report are:
Ability to decode at the packet header, payload, or pixel level
Support for 1080p (progressive scan) high-definition video
Channel-change times for multicast video
Ability to measure command/response (pause, fast forward, rewind) times for VOD
Ability to detect lip synchronization issues

[click on the image below for the full excerpt]

[click on the image above for the full excerpt]

Report Scope and Structure

IPTV Phase II: QOE Is Mission is structured as follows:

Section I is an introduction to the report, with complete report key findings.

Section II provides a technology background for understanding the core issues involved with assessing video quality of experience, explaining the role of technologies such as MPEG-4 compression and Group of Pictures (GOP) in IPTV delivery, and their importance to picture quality.

Section III examines the relationship between network quality of service (QOS) and subscriber QOE, the QOS issues that have the greatest impact on video quality, the minimum QOS thresholds for standard- and high-definition TV, and packet recovery.

Section IV focuses on the QOE aspect of IPTV delivery, clarifies the different types of measurements systems for video quality, highlights standardization efforts, and explains what measurement techniques specific vendors are using. It also includes a snapshot of the market and some indication of vendor revenues from IPTV measurement solutions.

Section V provides a detailed analysis of 16 leading vendors in the IPTV test and measurement market, describes their product offerings, and evaluates each vendor's relative strengths and weaknesses.

IPTV Phase II: QOE Is Mission Critical is essential reading for a wide range of industry participants, including the following:

IPTV test and measurement suppliers: How well do your products measure up to the competition when it comes to meeting telco needs to monitor and ensure QOE for IPTV services? What competitive advantages does your portfolio have? What are the potential areas of product weakness that must be addressed? How does your marketing message align with telco needs in this critical market sector?
Other IPTV technology suppliers: How does the need to ensure QOE affect telco purchasing patterns for infrastructure and customer-premises technologies and equipment? How can your company position itself as a key enabler of high-quality IPTV services? What are the potential pitfalls in IPTV QOE that you need to address in your product line?
IPTV network operators: How effective is your current testing environment to ensure acceptable QOE for your IPTV subscribers? Which products are available to improve your quality-assurance efforts? Who are the technology leaders in delivering IPTV QOE testing gear? Where does your supplier fit into the market?
Investors: Which technologies are emerging as the winning solutions for IPTV QOE test and measurement, and which companies are the leading providers of those solutions?

IPTV Phase II: QOE Is Mission Critical is published in PDF format.

PRICE: $3,995
Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading
Sam Masud has more than two decades of experience in the telecom industry as an editor and, more recently, as an analyst. His coverage at Heavy Reading is focused on IPTV and Internet video…
Click here for full list of suppliers included in this report
37 pages of analysis covering the key technology and performance issues affecting IPTV service QOE for end users, including such factors as picture quality, audio synching, channel-change time, and HDTV and VOD delivery issues
A detailed accounting of key standards to enable improved IPTV QOE assessments, as well as analysis of what's missing from current industry initiatives
In-depth product and strategy analyses for 16 leading suppliers of IPTV QOE test and measurement technologies
PRICE: $3,995
To view reports you will need Adobe's Acrobat Reader. If you do not have it, it can be obtained for free at the Adobe web site.