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In its latest issue (08/16), the German specialist journal “connect” presents a new nationwide fixed network test. Following the current trend that telecom networks are increasingly transforming from voice telephony to video distribution networks, an entirely new focus was placed on WebTV video quality. Here, the new video quality measurement technology “PEVQ-S” developed by the Erlangen-based company OPTICOM enables analysis of the subjective video quality as perceived by the users. For the first time, this measurement technology allows for a large-scale comparison of commercial providers of video streaming subscriptions such as Netflix, Amazon Video and Videoload, as well as well-known video platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook. In so doing, the quality difference between these video services was assessed - both with regard to the locations and the different broadband providers. As a result, it again became clear that the technology (DSL, cable or fiber optics) and speed of the connection alone do not serve as an indication of the maximum achievable quality – faster does not automatically mean better. The video performance of operators’ networks also greatly depends on the interconnection with the big Content Delivery Networks such as Akamai, Amazon AWS, Level 3 or Limelight.
In over 2.1 million individual measurements at a total of 43 German locations, the company zafaco used automated test systems to analyze video and voice quality (among other things) for four weeks using standardized measurement software from OPTICOM.
“With nearly 300,000 individual measurements for WebTV alone, zafaco provided urgently needed transparency with the largest video quality benchmark to date: Video portals may seem to users just like normal websites, in reality they conceal complex logistics for ‘streaming’ and playback of the video contents, whereby so-termed ‘Content Delivery Networks’, i.e. the provider’s own or rented video server network structure, constantly adapt the bitrate to the Internet bandwidth and end device” explained Michael Keyhl, the founder and managing director of OPTICOM. “Mobile networks, for example, provide lower video quality than a fixed network to a Smart-TV. Our video quality measurement technology PEVQ-S is based on a range of internationally standardized algorithms which are able to recognize, for each frame, errors and deviations from the reference and accordingly rate the subjective, humanly perceived, quality. Due to the reference-based approach, PEVQ-S is currently the only available metric worldwide, able to quantify the optimization potential, by presenting the best possible quality available on the server, simultaneously with the current quality. That is also dependent of context, based on the viewing situation – whether Smartphone, PC or TV.”
“With the OPTICOM measurement technology PEVQ-S we were able to carry out further analyses which enabled us to take a close look at the broadband and the WebTV providers in the test” added Christoph Sudhues, the founder and managing director of zafaco. “Thus, for example, it was apparent that Netflix changed the configuration of its video player during the test period with the effect that the stream played at a higher quality from the beginning, which, however, led to longer waiting times until the video started to play (so-termed “Initial Buffering”). As the graph shows, both the conversion effect and the resulting outcome was reflected to differing degrees in the video quality and with all the broadband providers tested. Through the cooperation with OPTICOM, for the first time worldwide we are able to test the measurable service quality of the popular video services from Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, Videoload, Vimeo and Youtube within the framework of a continuous benchmark and thus contribute to securing and optimizing the quality aspects in convergent networks. Which, in turn, results in increased customer satisfaction.”
It was not until mid-June that the German Federal Cabinet required the providers to ensure more transparency of Internet connections by passing the Transparency Regulation of the Federal Network Agency. As the current results show, the data transfer rate alone is, however, no guarantee for consistent and genuine high quality. In view of the enormous significance of video streaming via the Internet, the Erlangen measurement technology PEVQ-S can make a decisive contribution here by objectively and realistically characterizing the quality of video services as actually perceived by the consumer. PEVQ-S has, like the globally established POLQA voice quality measurement technology which also comes from OPTICOM, been taken under license by leading manufacturers of measuring instruments. The years of development have paid off: in the most recent independent tests within the framework of the ongoing standardization Q14/12 in the International Telecommunications Union (ITU-T), PEVQ-S ranked among the winners with the highest measurement accuracy, clearly relegating simpler proposals, such as those only analyzing bitrate and image resolution, to the back of the field.
Description of figure/caption:
Putting WebTV streaming providers through their paces with the OPTICOM measurement technology: during the 4-week test period (horizontal axis: date) the video quality measured for Netflix improved (vertical axis: MOS scale, from 1.0 [poor] to 5.0 [very good]) which had a positive effect for all broadband providers, even if some were less pronounced.
connect, issue 08/2016, published by WEKA Media Publishing GmbH, 85540 Haar
OPTICOM GmbH has developed over the last 20 years to become the technology and market leader for algorithms and software for voice, audio and video quality assessment. The so-termed “Perceptual Measurement” approach of the underlying patented measurement technology uses software to reproduce the complex characteristics of human perception and subjective quality assessment.
Originally formed as a spin-off of the mp3 development of the Fraunhofer-Institute, Erlangen, the experts from OPTICOM have by now not only decisively (co-)authored a full range of international ITU standards for voice and video quality assessment, e.g. PESQ, POLQA and PEVQ, but also successfully marketed them through OEM licensing. The customer base includes leading manufacturers of measurement technology, manufacturers of standard software, PCs and mobile telephones, network equipment suppliers and telecom operators worldwide.
COPYRIGHT AND DISCLAIMER
PEVQ®, PESQ®, PEAQ®, POLQA® and the OPTICOM® logo are registered trademarks of OPTICOM GmbH; ‘Q-App’ and ‘The Perceptual Quality Experts’ are trademarks of OPTICOM GmbH. All other brand and product names are trademarks, and/or registered trademarks of their respective owners.
zafaco GmbH sees itself as a comprehensive, independent and neutral service provider in the areas of benchmarking, business service management and business intelligence with its own measurement technology infrastructure and nearly 52 million test connections per year. This independence and neutrality provides the foundation for the business model of zafaco GmbH.
The trust in the independence of zafaco can be seen, among other things, in the fact that the measurements for the regular broadband network test published by connect – Europe’s biggest telecommunication magazine - are carried out by zafaco.
Furthermore, through the network quality initiative, zafaco GmbH investigated the service quality of broadband access on behalf of the Federal Network Agency for the quality studies 2012 and 2013.
zafaco GmbH has also been awarded the contract by the Federal Network Agency for the development and three-year operation of an end customer measurement system (https://breitbandmessung.de) to record and evaluate the efficiency of the fixed or mobile Internet access services in Germany.
zafaco GmbH, Taxetstraße 66, D - 85737 Ismaning