IP demands are on the rise. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) already is here, and Video over IP is on its way. Designers not only need to ensure quality of service, they also need to improve it. Texas Instruments' Piqua system promises to do just that.
This distributed software/hardware system can be embedded in almost all of the components in an IP network, from telephones and set-top boxes to gateways, routers, cable modem termination systems (CMTSs) and digital-subscriberline access multiplexers (DSLAMs), and infrastructure equipment. It additionally works with leading network-management systems.
As IP services grow, carriers and service providers will need ways to provide a stable and fail-safe experience for the consumer while maximizing their return on investment. And that's a tough balancing act. Any system must maximize traffic on the network while readily scaling up to meet demand. Furthermore, it's essential to eliminate unnecessary device replacement and churn and any related service calls.
Echo, packet loss, delays, packet jitter, failed calls, and other conditions all can degrade VoIP system service. Customer complaints can lead to costly truck rolls to diagnose the problem and unnecessary VoIP adapter replacement. To provide the best possible service, carriers need a system that will quickly discover, configure, monitor, and repair the network and devices. The Piqua system can do that.
Piqua comprises four key elements (see the figure). The discovery feature identifies the customer hardware and software. The configuration feature facilitates installation, provisioning, and security management. The monitoring aspect provides service metering and monitoring,alerts, and network management. Finally, the repair feature provides a way to troubleshoot and restore the system once a problem is identified.
Using Piqua, service engineers can send commands to customer equipment to configure the system or just invoke a response. Tests can be run, and responses and statistics can be collected to reveal problems. Alarms can be set to indicate improper operation, making it possible to repair or fine-tune a customer's installation before a complaint is made.
Piqua is based on TI's DSP technology and embedded software solutions. It provides a real-time but distributed system of quality-management elements that monitor and improve the quality of IPbased services, including voice, fax, and video. The various hardware and software elements are buried in all levels of the network equipment.
Piqua's first implementation targets the VoIP market. The Piqua roadmap will provide software that also will address video delivery in the near future.