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NAB 17: IneoQuest Recommends Data to Determine Quality Issues
Quality metrics defined by the Streaming Video Alliance provide a useful framework for understanding delivery issues, but aren't the full solution.

"We don't have a lot of good standards in terms of measuring and assessing quality," said James Welch, senior consulting engineer for IneoQuest Technologies during a session at the 2017 NAB Show. That's something the industry needs to get better at. The Streaming Video Alliance (SVA) created a common set of quality-of-experience (QOE) metrics in May 2016, but they only go so far.

The four QOE metrics the SVA spelled out were video start-up time (measured in seconds), the re-buffering ratio, the average media bit rate (measured in bits per second), and the rate of video start failures. The SVA considers a video start a failure after 10 seconds of waiting.

"Up until last year there really wasn't any common terminology," Welch said.

IneoQuest focuses on quality assurance. The SVA metrics provide a common and consistent way to measure the viewer experience, but the limitation is that they all focus on video transport, Welch explained. They're useful, but don't tell the whole story. For one thing, there's no metric that examines the quality of the content delivered.

If viewers in one region are having a problem, these experience metrics don't point to a solution. Should the company switch CDNs or content providers? Change origin servers? Change the player software or hardware?

Don't guess at a fix, Welch advised. The correct response is to measure performance at one or more upstream locations. Monitoring agents can be either passive or active: Passive monitoring adds an agent to a network and studies packets as they go by, while active monitoring requests content as a viewer would and assesses the quality of incoming video.

While an ideal situation would allow a company to examine video delivery all along its workflow, that's not open to everyone.

"If you have even one more upstream point, it allows you to triangulate on where the problem is," Welch explained. The more data a company has, the less time it takes to repair the problem.

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