Electronic Design

Don't Forget The Network

Telepresence and video-conferencing systems rely on networks to send and receive HD video and audio, whether it’s locally or around the globe. But traditional IP backbones aren’t designed to handle such telepresence or HD video-conferencing systems. Packet loss, jitter, and out-of-order packet delivery often result in degraded video and audio quality. Service providers like Masergy and network analysis companies such as NetScout Systems come to the rescue when it comes to delivering a high quality of service or testing a network’s capabilities.

Masergy, a global IP network service provider, has specifically engineered its inCONTROL Video solution to deliver guaranteed high-quality video conferencing at all times, under all network conditions. The company says that inCONTROL Video is backed by the strongest and most straightforward Service Level Agreement (SLA) in the telecommunications industry. Key performance metrics include 100% packet delivery, 100% in-sequence packet delivery, maximum latency variation (jitter) of 5 ms, and sub-1-second fast fail-over (network recovery).

These performance metrics are possible due to the class-of-service/quality-of-service capabilities inherent in Masergy’s native multiprotocol label-switching (MPLS) IP backbone, which delivers a constant 30 frames/s, synchronized audio and video, and zero “tiling” artifacts. Plus, no special equipment is needed to take advantage of these advanced services. Masergy’s network architecture allows customers to access the service using a standard IP router.

Fully understanding different aspects of the network is the province of companies such as NetScout, which sells software and equipment for network analysis and troubleshooting. “For companies working on a telepresence or video-conferencing rollout, we recommend that they utilize our equipment to help them understand what’s in the network first, to do a pre-deployment audit,” says Eileen Haggerty, director of product marketing for NetScout. “Do they need more bandwidth, do they need to move some traffic to different times of the day, things like that. That’s the first step, to baseline the network and understand what’s on there and get it ready for that rollout.” 

From an engineering perspective, companies need to understand what’s in their network today, how much bandwidth availability they have, and what their expectation is for the quality or resolution of the video-conferencing choice that they’re making. Via software and hardware products such as nGenius and Sniffer, NetScout offers the ability to see what’s on those network segments and what traverses them. The products can break down traffic in graphs and reports and show that information precisely. And, real-time analysis capability lets users troubleshoot the network whenever a problem occurs.

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