How to control the quality of TV services?

May 17, 2018

With the growing penetration of IPTV and OTT TV, operators fight ever more aggressively to win every available subscriber. Such competition sets a new benchmark for interactive TV services. Now subscribers are no longer content with a broad range of channels and movies, they now demand failure-free and high-quality video delivery every time on every screen and in every location. These are increasingly important drivers for the operators to actively adopt the subscriber loyalty management systems.

It is pertinent to recall the words of Mikhail Slobodin, former CEO of VimpelCom (Beeline), who said: “Either you change or you die.” And your business, however sad it sounds, would die for sure, if you fail to start using the new business tools and strategies to help compete in such a competitive market.

We have many times seen our customers facing such challenges, and based on our expertise as a digital TV platform vendor, we have formulated comprehensive business requirements for a video service quality control system.

Today we are going to talk about monitoring and identifying issues that can be resolved through adoption of a monitoring solution for your TV service.

1. You will consider assessing the quality of services you provide to your customers, if you have not already done so for some reason. What will such quality assessment bring to you? For instance, you may find out that the quality of your TV service broadcast has been steadily declining over the past year. This would give you an answer, why subscribers churn despite the growing budget that is spent on PR and marketing. Via monitoring, you can see your services through the eyes of the subscriber and proactively prevent your broadcast quality issues. Be smart!

2. You will get a new means to assess your company’s efficiency. Having got realistic performance indicators for your services and offerings, you will be able to set your internal KPIs and KQIs, control your internal services, and hence dispose of your resources competently, managing the operating costs for your network and team.

3. You will acquire a powerful set of tools to detect issues, analyze and identify their causes, analyze your quality dynamics in the long run, and identify abnormalities in your service. First of all, you will enable ongoing control for the duty shift and monitoring service. Second, you will adopt a tool to handle customer tickets and resolve service issues for a particular subscriber. Thirdly, you will give an analytical tool to your architects, development services and commerce departments.

4. You will reduce your costs. With service efficiency indicators in your toolbox, you will be able to flexibly allocate the company’s resources without worrying about service degradation.

5. You will retain your customers. It is impossible to provide modern high-quality services without customer care tools. You must learn to identify problems and eliminate them even before anyone complains, quickly resolving the problems of individual subscribers.

Ask yourself a simple question: have you meticulously elaborated on these points for your business?

Quality control methods

The operators adopt a variety of approaches and methods to control the quality of video services. Each individual method is usually tailored to a specific model of development of the operator’s broadcasting network. Here are the most common quality control methods:

  • Hardware-based control methods with dedicated equipment (“traps”). This is a costly and non-flexible method. When you expand your network, you have to buy new equipment items. In fact, the quality control costs are constantly added to the network operating costs. Moreover, the hardware-based methods fail to adapt to the new broadcasting standards. The upside of such systems is that they can directly control the quality of the service at the level perceived by the end-user.
  • Monitoring systems based on widely adopted unified monitoring systems, such as Zabbix. Such systems require attainment of a certain level of competence within your company. However, there is always a risk that such in-house systems would not utilize the full scale of service quality monitoring potential, failing to flexibly upgrade to match the network growth or new broadcasting standard adoption. The upside of this approach is its relatively low cost.

Each of the approaches has its pros and cons.

Today we are going to tell you about SMART monitoring system from SmartLabs called SmartCARE

SmartCARE: a solution based on operator experience

Throughout our more than a ten-year history of creation and implementation of solutions for digital TV operators, we have accumulated considerable experience in the development of service monitoring and quality control systems.

We purposefully created a monitoring system that focuses on measurement and assessment of quality of service and gives an insight on how the real quality is perceived by the end-users. In other words, we have solved a more complicated task than just load analysis or logging of alarm events at the equipment level.

SmartCARE can handle large amounts of data. We applied the modern methods of Big Data and machine learning algorithms to teach the system to quickly process large data sets received both from the operator’s network and from the subscriber devices. Just a few years ago, such a task could not had been solved due to technology limitations, today this is quite straight forward.

The key technological advancement is the automatic detection of issues in user groups that have identical attributes. The system can identify user groups, e.g.: users of the client app for Android-based tablets, who view supplier A’s content. This way we may detect severe problems that go unnoticed with the classical control methods. Classical methods fail to detect a problem against the uniform backdrop of “average temperature in the hospital”, so a deeper technological audit is needed. Identification of problems in the automatic mode is particularly important for OTT service delivery. OTT subscribers rarely complain; they would rather switch to another service provider.

SmartCARE collects and processes data from client devices and broadcast platforms. So the quality of video broadcasting can be assessed “from different facets”. The optimization of data processing algorithms allows the system to receive the network status details in the online mode with a delay of about one minute.

Unlike hardware-based monitoring methods, SmartCARE does not need any “probes” or “traps”.  The solution runs on the data that is mostly already available on the equipment. In other words, SmartCARE makes the minimum of interference into the network operation. Hence, SmartCARE is easily scalable, so to upgrade or expand the solution functionality one just needs to make a software update and get a newer version of the solution.

Each SmartCARE indicator is not some abstract value, but a result of “live” data analysis, reflecting real information on the service status directly linked to the data flow of video content delivery to subscribers.

How does it work in practice?

Watch our video illustrating how SmartCARE solves real problems faced by our customers.

In the first case, SmartCARE helped the operator to quickly respond to a problem and eliminate it.

In the second case, SmartCARE helped the subscriber to improve the quality of digital television viewing.

We are actively developing SmartCARE; please follow the updates on the product page and subscribe to our newsletter.

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