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iVMS Mobile: Mobile Monitoring of Video Quality

While not geared toward a mass audience of consumers, Ineoquest's mobile version of its video management system, iVMS Mobile, is designed to allow service providers to remotely monitor and improve digital video quality by providing direct access to video monitoring tools from an iPhone.

Based on the iVMS management system, which provides real-time analysis of the video distribution network from the core headend to the customer premise (customer location) delivery, iVMS Mobile can provide the current status of video quality on a per-program or clip basis.

The fact that the application is on an iPhone doesn't necessarily mean that iVMS Mobile is only for mobile delivery of content, but rather for the service personnel to be able to monitor delivery of video to desktop, IPTV, and mobile devices. In fact, Ineoquest's tag line for iVMS Mobile is "Real-Time Status of the Quality of Your Digital Video Delivery Network: Now Available in a Convenient To-Go Size."

"The iVMS mobile application resides on the iPhone and accesses a currently installed iVMS system (which must already be deployed by service provider)," according to Calvin Harrison, VP of marketing and business development at Ineoquest. "The iVMS mobile application would be used by the service providers themselves to manage the video quality of their network from anywhere. It was launched today and will be available at the store within 2 to 4 weeks."

Using pre-set quality ratings and alarms that trigger if a quality anomaly occurs, the new application is designed to allow service provider personnel to access additional performance details directly on their iPhone, allowing for in-the-field tweaks of key elements of the network operations center (NOC) delivery infrastructure.

Ineoquest's iVMS also takes live measurements of each requested program, compiling a media delivery index (MDI) across the network, using a series of approved network probes that can correlated between Quality of Service (the networking term for consistent delivery) and Quality of Experience (a somewhat more nebulous term that has emerged recently to approximate what the end user sees).

While Ineoquest touts the real-time elements of this new iPhone application, another element in monitoring quality of delivery may prove useful to content owners, should Ineoquest and service providers using iVMS Mobile choose to make the application available to content owners: The iVMS Mobile application has a built-in "program availability metric" which provides a percentage-based measurement of each program's video quality over a 24-hour period.

Additionally, like iVMS, the mobile version also provides access to detailed analytics and historical information on program quality by a variety of factors: location, time (day, week, and month), error type and other benchmarking points. As such, service personnel can drill down to specific program quality and the overall program health.

"These tools are especially important for executives to meet internal QoS and SLAs [Service Level Agreements]," Ineoquest noted in today's press release announcing iVMS. "By providing a real-time video snapshots of the actual content currently being played over the network, with a simple color scheme to highlight the quality of its current state, the iVMS Mobile application lets programs be sorted by their overall health, including detailed real-time program information provided, all with a single touch of the screen."

While the tool is geared toward service providers, there is a feature embedded in the application that service providers can make available to end users, the Customer Feedback Button. This feedback feature enables subscribers to message service providers directly about outages or other video quality issues, without having to pick up the phone, logging error reports and outages. One would suspect this feature should be in a separate application as customers won't have access to all the other features, such as making modifications to the NOC, but Ineoquest sees this feedback feature as helpful to its service provider customers.

"Subscribers can now log error reports and outages at the touch of a button," the company said, "even if their broadband service is out. Video providers instantly receive the date and time of the error as well as the GPS location of the user, all of which is incorporated into a broader set of quality metrics, expediting the providers ability to identify and resolve the problem."

When asked about this in more detail, a company spokesperson said the customer-facing application is conceptual and up to individual service providers.

"It would be up to the service provider whether they would want to turn this capability on for their subscribers," says Harrison. "Should they decide to turn it on, IneoQuest would either give them the links to build it into their own iPhone customer applications or we would publish a service provider specific customer application for them at the Apple store."

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