Survey: VOD, HD main quality concerns for MSOs
Video-on-demand (VOD) is the service most likely to have video quality problems, but MSOs expect quality control in high-definition (HD) to be a growing problem in the coming year.
Video quality is a key concern for MSOs, but they don’t feel they have the tools in place to measure video quality at consumers’ homes, according to a survey conducted by Multimedia Research Group (MRG) at the behest of Symmetricom , a company that sells timing solutions that help with the delivery of video.
The 2007 Cable Operator Video Quality Study  (registration required) assessed cable operators' requirements for video quality test, measurement and monitoring solutions.
Key results include:
• 90.4 percent of respondents reported end-user video quality monitoring as either "critical," "very important" or "important" to their video initiatives.
• 61.9 percent said they learn of video quality problems via customer phone calls; only 31 percent said they use network monitoring tools to discover quality problems.
• 80 percent said that service quality problems are the reasons for high support calls.
• 40 percent said VOD is the service causing the most quality problems today, while 51.6 percent said HDTV is expected to produce the most quality problems one year from now.
• 58.1 percent said that end-user quality of experience (QoE) is "critical" and needs to be monitored.
• Top issues with current monitoring solutions deployed today are: they are not an accurate measure of end-user experience and they are too costly.
• 68 percent said that cost is the biggest reason for customer churn, while service quality problems were next with 40 percent.
“Although cable operators are pioneers in the video business, VOD and HD services are causing new video quality problems which need to be addressed, preferably before the customer even knows they exist,” said David Cox, Symmetricom's EVP and GM of the QoE Assurance Division. “With competitive pressures increasing, cable operators need a comprehensive video monitoring solution to ensure they meet customer expectations, or face possible increases in churn and operational costs.”
The survey responses were from nine MSOs, all within the Top 20 in the U.S. The study was conducted using a written survey questionnaire, and many respondents were interviewed additionally by phone.
Symmetricom also bid MRG to evaluate the same issues for IPTV providers in 2007. The results were similar, in that video quality was a concern, but that few were able to reliably measure video quality at the viewers’ end.
The parallel IPTV survey found that the top three issues are video freeze, macroblocking and video blackout, and that more than 72 percent of all problems come from access and home networks.
Respondents to the IPTV Survey  included executives from 12 Tier 1 and Tier 2 telecommunications service providers in North America.
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