Head-end sites are a crucial part of the digital TV service delivery chain, as problems arising here have the potential to hit all viewers. Quality issues on the incoming feeds will have a direct effect on the delivered service quality that needs to be handled by SLAs, and operators need to be able to perform instant problem discovery and structured impact and root-cause analysis in order to minimize the end user impact.
The complex head-end environment has several stream and service transformation steps affecting the service quality and integrity on different levels, which require a 'multi monitoring point' quality assurance strategy. The monitoring locations entail different analysis capabilities and depth in order to secure the benefits of rapid problem discovery, impact analysis and root-cause analysis. These requirements range from concurrently monitoring availability and the IP and transport stream levels, all the way up to the most advanced levels of content monitoring, including video encoding MOS, EBU R128 loudness, and much more.
The Agama solution for head-ends
Agama has pioneered in offering massive but cost-efficient solutions for operational transparency and strategic insight into TV service QoE and QoS for the head-end environment, adopted by a wide range of TV operators worldwide. Agama's video quality assurance product line can be tailored for the operator challenges in the head-end environment with its best-of-breed support for interface flexibility, monitoring capabilities, scalability, top-level presentations, and complete support for the new OTT and multiscreen technologies. With Agama, operators can deploy a self-contained solution handling their need of transparency and advanced in-depth monitoring capabilities, all to ensure what enters and leaves the head-end really is the best is can be.
Solution characteristics and benefits include:
- Input and output SLA management
- Unique impact and root-cause analysis, instant problem discovery, and alarming
- High flexibility and versatility, supporting any combination of ASI, DVB and Ethernet 1G/10G input interfaces
- Massively scalable to any number of simultaneously monitored services at all analysis depths
- Fully concurrent monitoring on all services in real-time, including analysis of:
– all TR290 P1, P2 and P3 parameters
– video and audio stream elementary stream syntax compliance
– video and audio stream content issues, such as video encoding MOS, black screen, freeze frame, audio level and silence
– EBU R128 integrated and short-term loudness
- Built-in sophisticated features for confidence monitoring, visual inspection and triggered recording
- Real-time and long-term historical data mining and correlation capabilities
- Seamless integration into Agama's top-level management systems
Agama's products for a complete head-end monitoring solution
- Analyzer FLEX monitors the incoming feeds on all available protocol levels ensuring the correctness of stream multiplex using TR290 P1, P2 and P3 and content-level QoE. This allows for SLA management of the delivered quality and performance, ensuring that problems already present in streams as they enter the head-end are handled by the content providers.
- Analyzer H-E monitors and analyzes the services after reception and de-scrambling, as well as after the transcoding and/or encoding processes. The services in these points are in the clear, allowing for advanced in-depth content level monitoring in addition to TR290 multiplex monitoring, to ensure that video and audio elementary stream syntax is OK with, for instance, correct video encoding MOS, black screen and freeze frame detection, and EBU R128 integrated and short term loudness monitoring.
For adaptive streaming services, the Analyzer H-E monitors and analyzes each of the adaptive bitrate profiles after the transcoding and/or encoding processes but before segmentation, while the Analyzer OTT H-E performs content-level analysis after segmentation, together ensuring quality and integrity of the services ingested into the CDN origin servers.
- Analyzer NET monitors and analyzes the services after the addition of conditional access (CA). This location is the SLA point for the services handed over from the head-end to the distribution network. Together with the input SLA, head-end egress SLA monitoring ensures that the head-end can work with the highest quality and performance.
- Analyzer OMNIA monitors and analyzes Multiple Program Transport Streams and services carried over IP or QAM RF, for example at the cable TV head-end egress.
- Analyzer OTT Edge monitors and analyzes the output of the segmenters, ensuring the quality of the content pushed to the CDN origin servers, supporting the leading adaptive bitrate streaming formats including Apple® HLS and Microsoft® Smooth Streaming. It can also be used to monitor and analyze the CDN origin server function, performance and readiness to deliver the content profiles requested by users. The Analyzer OTT H-E does all of this, but also performs content-level analysis, detecting black screen, freeze frame, macroblocking and silence conditions.
- By bringing all gathered monitoring information from strategic locations throughout the head-end, together in the central Enterprise Server for correlation, presentation, alarming and reporting, you take the final step in creating a powerful foundation for rapid problem discovery, impact analysis, and root-cause analysis.
For many TV operators, Agama's solution for head-end monitoring is an integral part of a complete end-to-end video quality assurance solution.
“A large number of faults are due to the incoming feeds of satellite links. We can tell this is an external issue and our network operations staff can escalate it directly to the satellite operator and also inform customer services, which is the first contact point from our customers' perspective.”
Senior Digital Systems Engineer for DVB at a pan-European telecommunications provider
“We see monitoring as a way to bring our customer service to the highest possible level and proactively react on issues. Agama brings a complete monitoring solution that enables us to do an advanced quality check for all digital channels before they leave the head-end.”
Head of Technical Department at a regional European cable TV operator
“Agama’s proven solution offered us a cost and space efficient deployment with high channel density per monitoring probe, and a future proof scalability. It also showed technology superiority, with characteristics including continuous in-depth video and audio analysis to detect all sorts of perturbations, automatic triggered recording of problematic channels for offline troubleshooting, real-time streaming of any monitored channel to our 24/7 remote support team, easy-to-use and comprehensive web based GUI, to mention a few.”More customer testimonials »
Head of iTV Group at a European triple-play service provider