Mixed Signals Tool Tracks Video-Bandwidth Consumption

Mixed Signals has enhanced its Sentry video-monitoring system to analyze the bandwidth utilization of individual video feeds, a feature designed to let cable operators pack digital channels together more efficiently for delivery.

The Sentry's Program Group Bandwidth Analysis tool monitors service providers' existing multiplex or QAM groups. In addition, operators can use it to create a virtual grouping of programs to measure bandwidth behavior over a 24-hour period and test a new multiplex or QAM group before putting it into production.

Another new Sentry feature records video and audio errors as they occur, which is intended to speed up diagnosing and repairing such glitches. The Trigger Program Capture feature kicks in when Sentry's quality-scoring system detects that errors that have reached a pre-determined severity level.

Los Angeles-based Mixed Signals says the Sentry product has been deployed by eight of the top 10 U.S. cable operators, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications and Cablevision Systems.

Sentry detects video and audio errors - such as video freezes, macro-blocking or loss of audio - by analyzing network anomalies at the IP and MPEG layers.

Other vendors of video-quality monitoring systems include Symmetricom and Harmonic.