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How Agama contributes to Slovak Telekom's success

22/01/2021

13 January, 2021

Opinion pieces

This is a guest post by Vladimir Uhrovic, Senior Designer at Slovak Telecom

A customer talking about their experience with you is worth ten times that which you write or say about yourself . David J. Greer, Author

The beginning The story begins in 2007 when Slovak Telekom, a major Slovak fix line operator, deployed an IPTV solution based on Microsoft Mediaroom platform. Even though we were TV enthusiasts, we had at that time almost no experience with providing TV services, so we had to learn on-the-fly.

The challenge of the new IPTV solution We found out very quickly that providing such a service without proper monitoring is practically impossible. In 2008 we did a tender for IPTV monitoring and Agama was the winner. They were the only ones who could fulfill our requirements as well as being cost-effective.

How did Agama solution help on the new TV service journey? The deployment was about forty Agama probes all over the network and Agama Enterprise server, covering all that into one central point. The Enterprise server provides real-time aggregation, alarms and data storage but also features an application platform, which provides core application with different interfaces for system management, technical operations and reporting.

We also did the integration with ST umbrella management IBM Netcool. The idea of Agama deployment was to monitor all multicast IPTV streams in different points in the network. We had probes in signal acquisition to see the quality of the signal we are ingesting. Then we put them also behind encoders, to be able to evaluate the quality of the encoding process. The important point was the encrypted output of the IPTV platform itself and finally more points in the IP/MPLS network in order to cover the whole topology (at that time already quite complex).

What was monitored and how? All the streams were monitored according to ETSI recommendations TR 101 290 Priority 1 ,2, 3 and also video inspection quality (picture freeze, black screen, macro blocking/ pixelation, no audio, network parameters etc.) was performed in those places where the signal in the network was not scrambled with DRM (e.g. in the head-end).

Of course, Agama also presented us with an excellent solution where SW probe is installed directly into STB to have a comprehensive, full end-to-end QoE. Unfortunately, this was not possible for us due to the closed proprietary MS solution.

The promised solution was not just a dream, but it became a reality After a short time, we were sure that we made the right choice. Agama was really helpful in the beginnings of our TV experiences and also during years of daily TV services operation. As we have optimized our network, we have been able to efficiently move monitoring capacity where we need it to place it. In 2017 we also introduced Agama OTT probes where we are able to monitor our OTT services for two countries (T-Mobile Czech and Slovak Telekom) with only few probes. We are already benefiting from the existing Enterprise server, which was able to cover both IPTV and OTT probes.

Currently, we are using Agama monitoring in daily operations. Our NOC people have dedicated monitors where they can see customized dashboards with a global view 24/7. In case of any alarm or deviation, they can quickly locate the problem and solve it together with ST operations. Of course, also ST operation is using Agama monitoring in case of troubleshooting. They do have a dedicated probe where they connect new or suspicious streams and doing deep dive inspection - whenever necessary.

The signs of success Over the past years, the Agama solution has proven itself to be the perfect fit for our TV service and it helped us a lot in providing quality streaming to our customers. We were able to integrate it very easily in our network, as it is made to be flexible and straightforward to set up. We now have an easy way to monitor and troubleshoot our IPTV and OTT network, which makes our Operations team's life much easier. We appreciate the regular updates, the useful improvements but also the good communication, fair attitude, and excellent level of support. As the OTT services are being more and more popular, we have to give appropriate attention to this growing part of our business.

Our collaboration is very successful, and we look forward to continuing for the years to come. For 2021 we plan an additional extension for OTT solution in order to be able to cover all streams and profiles.

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