In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 58


58

Monitoring Digital Media Networks
By Simen K Frostad, Chairman at Bridge Technologies
Now that media delivery chains almost always include a combination of IP and broadcast stages, monitoring the integrity of the signal is a more complicated business than it used to be. There are specialised monitoring tools for broadcast and IP, but the hybrid nature of today’s delivery chains creates problems that these tools were not created to detect. Broadcast monitoring tools only operate in the broadcast domain and IP tools only on the IP stages of the chain. In this new hybrid environment, engineers need a complete and coherent overview in order to have a full understanding of where errors are being introduced. This is a realisation that operators often come to only through experience: typically, an operator’s in-house expertise divides along broadcast/IP lines, so that IP specialists know little about the broadcast domain, and vice-versa. As a result, many operators attempt to create a monitoring solution from a patchwork of existing broadcast and IP tools under a network management umbrella. The difficulty they encounter arises from the interactions between the domains, and the often unexpected errors that creep in as a result of those interactions. Conventional tools are designed to report on the state of the signal or the integrity of the data as defined in broadcast or IP terms, and these terms or parameters sometimes do not take into account the conditions of a hybrid network, defined as they were for pure broadcast or IP networks. If a signal is passing along a chain that includes an IP fibre contribution link, followed by upload to a satellite and download at the digital headend, progress through an IP core network to one of several edge networks and finally into the subscriber’s premises, it’s passing over the broadcast/IP threshold and other network crossing points many times, and at each of these points, there is the potential for trouble. Operators who create a patchwork monitoring system have to cope with an in-built inefficiency: their monitoring tools may flag up errors, but offer little or no indication of why the error is occurring or where the cause is. Limited as they are to their own domain, these conventional monitoring tools cannot see up the chain to where the root cause occurred. It’s a bit like the cops having to call off the chase as the villains cross the state line. Similarly, irregularities in the signal at any one stage may be within acceptable parameters at that stage – and therefore go undetected as ‘errors’ by the monitoring device deployed there – while still causing problems downstream. The result is that the true cause of errors takes longer to analyze and correct, leading to increased cost and reduced quality of service. A system purpose-designed specifically for hybrid networks overcomes this costly situation by giving engineers one coherent view of the data along the entire chain, ‘seeing’ the data at all points, whether in the broadcast or IP domains, and offering a clear end-to-end correlation and analysis across the domains. So if an error is reported halfway along the chain, it will be much easier for the engineers to trace the cause if it lies further upstream, using the intelligently correlated analysis for the whole data path. And ‘the whole data path’ is the key here. Most viewers today are consuming video in a complex environment, with at least an electronic programme guide and usually some interactive and conditional access functionality involved: cable subscribers may also be consuming video as one service from a connection that also provides internet access. The complexity of this environment at the end-user’s premises means that there are many potential sources of service-quality affecting problems, and to the subscriber, it doesn’t matter if the problem is caused by some error at the headend or a malfunction in the set top box. Without the ability to quickly locate and resolve issues reported anywhere in the chain from satellite to set top box, operators face an uphill struggle to maintain service quality and grow the subscriber base. Until recently, there has not been a viable way for operators to monitor at the subscriber premises, leaving no option but costly site visits to investigate problems reported by viewers. But with the introduction of Bridge Technologies’ microVB probe, there is for the first time a real end-to-end monitoring solution, with the pocket-sized user-installable microVB providing non-intrusive and continuous deep packet data for the operator to analyze remotely.
Bridge Technologies Chairman Simen K Frostad

The microVB integrates into the wider VideoBRIDGE monitoring environment, a complete system with probes for every part of the digital media delivery chain from the satellite, through headend, core network, edge networks and into the subscriber’s home and the set-top box. The VideoBRIDGE system provides the critical requirement of 24/7 remote analysis of every point in the delivery chain, combining not only monitoring of data integrity during its journey to the subscriber, but also of quality of service at the subscribers’ premises. The system delivers detailed real-time monitoring of data using the ETSI ETR 290 parameters for measurement of DVB satellite, cable and terrestrial, and related digital television systems, and combines it with accurate real-time data on key IP performance and integrity measures, to provide a unified monitoring and analysis environment. The very large amounts of data generated by the system are gathered into easily readable graphic displays that give engineering maintenance staff the ability to monitor hundreds of channels at a glance. Instead of spreadsheet-like grids of numerical data and banks of monitoring screens, engineers see colour-coded real-time status indicators that provide an instant overview of the entire service gathered on to a single screen, and a potential problem anywhere in the infrastructure is immediately obvious. If performance tested against any parameter causes concern, the system generates an alarm and the engineer can immediately click on the link to displays of more detailed data that pinpoint the cause. Operators such as Virgin Media who use this end-to-end system experience greatly reduced maintenance costs arising from the ability to pinpoint the true cause of errors quickly while saving on truck rolls and engineering time. Most importantly, the service quality is greatly improved, with swift resolution of problems when they occur, and a happier subscriber base as a result.

Bridge Technologies microVB


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of In Broadcast - July/August 2011

In Broadcast - July/August 2011
Contents
Whats New in Our Global Village
iPad The Game Changer
Outside Broadcasters Feel the Pinch
Innovative Camera Supports - Beyond the Tripod
IP-Based Remote Television Studio Control
Trilogy's Gemini - Pioneering the Use of IP in Broadcast Intercom
The Ears Have It: The Drive for Better Sounding Mobile Content
IBC Sneak Peak
Monitoring Systems For Today's Digital, Multiplatform Era
New Developments in Broadcast Test and Measurement
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - Intro
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - In Broadcast - July/August 2011
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - Cover2
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - Contents
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - Whats New in Our Global Village
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 5
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 6
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 7
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 8
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 9
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 10
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 11
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 12
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 13
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 14
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 15
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 16
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 17
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - iPad The Game Changer
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 19
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 20
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 21
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - Outside Broadcasters Feel the Pinch
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 23
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 24
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 25
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 26
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 27
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 28
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 29
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 30
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 31
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - Innovative Camera Supports - Beyond the Tripod
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 33
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 34
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 35
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 36
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 37
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - IP-Based Remote Television Studio Control
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 39
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - Trilogy's Gemini - Pioneering the Use of IP in Broadcast Intercom
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 41
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 42
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 43
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - The Ears Have It: The Drive for Better Sounding Mobile Content
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 45
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - IBC Sneak Peak
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 47
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 48
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 49
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 50
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 51
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 52
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 53
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 54
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 55
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - Monitoring Systems For Today's Digital, Multiplatform Era
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 57
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 58
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 59
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - New Developments in Broadcast Test and Measurement
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 61
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 62
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 63
In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - 64
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In Broadcast - July/August 2011 - Cover4
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