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Clueless on IPTV quality?
By Carol Wilson, Telephony

Mar 5, 2008 5:31 PM

Service providers used to build quality networks for voice services. Then they began offering data and needed to guarantee a quality of service for that data. Now, as they offer video, they need to guarantee a quality of experience for the video consumer.

That makes competitive sense, but thereís one big problem -- how do you define, much less assure, the userís quality of experience?

IPTV providers are already running into this problem, according to a survey of 12 IPTV providers by Multimedia Research Group, commissioned by Symmetricom. They donít have an end-to-end view of the service network, so they canít be sure their customers are seeing what they should be seeing.

What they are sure of, however, is that poor video quality is a top reason for churn and drives up the volume of calls to customer service numbers, both of which are major bottom-line challenges. IPTV service providers can ill-afford to invest billions in building the networks required to support video and millions more to court customers only to lose them over quality issues, especially since changes are good that, once disaffected, customers wonít return.

Another major piece to this challenge is the need to accurately diagnose what's going on inside a consumerís home, so that trucks arenít dispatched to fix a network problem when the issue is the television set or the home gateway device.

IPTV is just now getting into volume numbers globally, which means that what once were minor problems could become major issues, if left unchecked. No matter how important it is to get a video service out the door, itís more important to get it done right. Iím not certain IPTV providers are doing that, yet. The MRG study -- granted, it was sponsored by a testing company, but even so -- indicates otherwise. This is a problem that needs fixing quickly.

E-mail me at cwilson3@telephonyonline.com.

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