Integrated MTT platform targets triple-play opportunities
Febrary, 27, by Sean Buckley, Telecommunications Online
With the convenience of a single lower-priced bill, the telco’s last-mile service bundle (i.e., voice, video and data) continues to resonate with consumers.
To maximize their triple-play investments, service providers will need to ensure services are running properly from the outside plant through the home.
Sunrise Telecom believes a service provider should have one common platform to perform end-to-end testing and provides it with the MTT Triple Play Series test package.
As an integrated testing platform, the MTT can test three dimensions: outside plant, inside wiring and services.
"Customers prefer the convenience of receiving all three services that they absolutely require nowadays from one service provider as opposed to many different ones,” says Olga Yashkova, industry analyst for communication test & measurement at Frost & Sullivan. “Service providers, in turn, prefer to deal with one test equipment vendor that can offer an integrated solution that tests and monitors all three: voice, video and data in one box. This saves them time, money and space."
Inside out testing
Traditionally, service providers had to have multiple test solutions for their last-mile and video testing: services, in-home wiring and outside plant. By integrating all these elements into one platform, the service provider can ensure all network elements are working before a service is turned up.
“Sunrise goes beyond integrated triple-play testing with this product,” Yashkova says. “They also provide in-home wiring and STB testing in addition to traditional copper, fiber and xDSL testing, which is an added benefit for their customers. This a smart strategic move on their part, and it also reflects the current industry trends in terms of product integration, convergence and QoE of IPTV subscribers.”
On the outside plant front, the MTT offers up a full plate of testing, including copper assessment tests spanning the voice to VDSL2 frequency range. In addition, it can test fiber OTDR and power meter and enable a technician to verify data rates and signal to noise ratio (SNR) margin against pass/fail thresholds.
Running video over existing copper poses a number of unforeseen challenges on a medium initially designed for voice. During last year’s Telco TV conference in Atlanta, rural telcos West Kentucky Rural Telephone and Ben Lomand Telephone revealed, for example, that electrical and environmental issues impacted their ability to get IPTV service up and running. (See: Taking the IPTV plunge) But ensuring the outside plant’s viability is only the first step to ensure a good video experience.
The other issue will concern the service provider’s ability to ensure the home’s wiring environment and the devices carrying the signals are not impeding its performance.
To test a home’s inside wiring, the MTT can run Home Phoneline Network Alliance (HPNA) emulation tests to support IPTV signals. Then, as a services tester, the MTT can perform IPTV set-top box emulation with MPEG video stream analysis, voice and data over the IP test suite.
“The demand for in-home wiring test and STB testing will increase with the IPTV deployments,” Yashkova says. “This is the way to provide true QoE for IPTV subscribers.”
Delivering IPTV continues to be a mind shift change for both the telco and end user.
IPTV gives the end user not only more channels but also other enhanced services such as time shifting and on-screen dialing, to name a few. Still, for all IPTV’s capabilities, telcos must realize that while the customer will tolerate the occasional dropped cell phone call, they’re less forgiving if their video service goes out while they are watching the latest episode of "Grey’s Anatomy."
Figure 1. Total Triple Play Market, 2006-2013
Even for all its challenges, telcos continue to launch video service. Along with AT&T and Verizon’s well documented U-Verse and FiOS video rollouts, respectively, a growing number of smaller independent phone operators are also expanding their video wares over both a hybrid fiber/copper-based fiber to the node (FTTN) and/or FTTH-based network.
New research from Frost and Sullivan confirms the opportunity for integrated IP services testing solutions is on the rise. Starting from an initial US$91.7 million in 2006, the revenue opportunity for integrated testing platforms will be US$697.9 million by 2013 with a CAGR of 33.6 percent for the period between 2006 to 2013 (see Figure 1).
“IPTV and IP video have a greater impact on the growth of the integrated triple-play test equipment market due to the increasing service quality requirements it has over voice and data,” Yashkova says.