Stuart Newton is IneoQuest’s Vice President of Corporate Strategy. In this position, he is responsible for analyzing, creating, recommending, and executing strategic and operational initiatives to maximize IneoQuest’s global performance across the markets they serve. Stuart is recognized as a thought leader in the video quality and assurance industry, regularly contributing papers and delivering keynote presentations internationally.
IP&TV News: From a technical perspective, what have been IneoQuest’s most exciting developments in the last year?
Stuart Newton: Last year was a great year for our adaptive streaming solutions for which IneoQuest won several industry awards and supported many operators with TV Everywhere pilot projects. We also worked on Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) prototypes with British Telecom and Intel, and launched the first cloud monitoring service assurance solution for video providers leveraging 3rd party content delivery networks (CDNs). All this provided a great foundation for the announcements we will be making this year at TV Connect.
If you were addressing an OTT operator about the most game changing service IneoQuest could offer, which would you choose and why?
A combination of operational and behavioral analytics to enable better service quality and monetization of video services. Quality assurance is critical, while behavioral analytics allow for better targeting of services and advertising. But, when you combine the operational and behavioral analytics, you can start correlating customer behavior with quality assurance and provide real insight into customer churn and other dynamics. The fact that our analytics are real-time vs. delayed by hours or days is also critical. Customers expect same-day or even same-hour responses now – not the several day response times of the past – so the more “fresh” the data, the better operators can respond to their customers’ needs.
And what about if you were addressing a linear operator?
If you mean a more traditional IPTV or cable operator, then there are clearly overlaps on the adaptive side, but many operators already use IneoQuest solutions for service assurance on their existing IPTV and cable services. In that sector, we are seeing increased interest in advertising assurance and also aggregating real-time quality assurance and behavioral analytics from packet-fill mechanisms to set-top boxes. The amount of IPTV quality and behavioral data you can access in the network from monitoring RTP packet refills is fairly impressive, and reduces the need for a STB agent.
How do you see the relationship between OTT and linear broadcasting developing over the next couple of years, and what does this mean for a video assurance provider like yourself?
It really depends whether you are talking about OTT or adaptive streaming leveraging CDN capability. The OTT video providers will continue to deliver new content either directly or via ISP’s, and their relationships will vary with the ISP’s depending on the net neutrality debate and the willingness to pay the ISP’s for premium video delivery. We may also see more partnerships between the content providers and the ISP to license the content service.
If we are talking about the use of CDNs for adaptive streaming, then many operators will be building or acquiring CDN infrastructure so they can deliver TV Everywhere services without using 3rd party CDNs for on-net delivery. They will also leverage CDN capabilities alongside their existing linear systems for additional catch-up and network DVR/PVR services, which is more of a hybrid approach.
Either way, we have advanced service assurance and analytics solutions to cover the requirements – it’s a fast-changing, complex laboratory out there at the moment, but we are innovating quickly to stay in sync.
Cloud TV is of course a major source of fascination at present. What are your own expectations for Cloud TV? What challenges do you anticipate it creating for the ecosystem?
From our perspective, a big challenge is quality assurance of cloud services. When operators have full control over their infrastructure and can place probing technology wherever they want to, it’s still a challenge to understand and diagnose issues with video services. Moving the video processing to the cloud and leveraging adaptive streaming adds even more complexity. Fortunately, the NFV solutions we have been pioneering, along with our cloud monitoring service, are great steps to provide more visibility into Cloud TV.
Looking ahead four or five years, what buzzwords do you think will come to dominate connected entertainment?
Good question. I’d be surprised if anyone can see four or five years out at this stage with the current rate of change in the industry – there are too many permutations. Whatever it is, it will probably be heavily connected to mobile video delivery – there are a lot of innovations to come in that space, especially with the amount of LTE rollouts planned.
What are your expectations for this year’s TV Connect? What makes it such an important date in the diary?
I’m hoping this is a great year for further unifying the vision around TV Everywhere services, and I’m looking forward to some good discussions around how the operators plan to monetize video, either through their own services or premium carriage of 3rd party content. Either way, they will need advanced analytics, and that’s something we will be discussing more at the show. It’s also good to see mobile and LTE becoming a part of the conference as the next big frontier for video delivery.