Transport stream monitoring

The critical importance of transport stream monitoring

Video service providers have to detect problems in the transport stream fix them before they become apparent to their viewers. Gaps in a service such as black to air frames, delays or outright failure have negative reputational and commercial damage, potentially putting an operator out of business.

As production and distribution networks become more complex, the need for transport stream monitoring has never been more critical. Internet Protocol (IP) based networks whether in production (including contribution ingest into and around a studio facility), primary distribution or second distribution are quickly evolving from a best effort delivery model to one where performance and reliability need to be quantified and, in many cases, guaranteed with Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

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As the market moves progressively toward contribution and distribution over unmanaged (internet) networks the number of possible faults in the transport stream multiplies exponentially. Left unchecked and the video service provider will bear the cost of failing to live up to consumer expectation or client contract.

Issues include, but are not limited to, packet loss (incorrect packet order or a packet occurs more than twice), errors causing frozen frames and loss of lip sync and buffering caused by traffic congestion, rerouting and equipment failure among others.

Media networking needs to adapt to different scenarios like high/low latency, high/low bandwidth (or high/low cost), reliable/unreliable networks, high-end/low end productions. This implies that different networks will be used for different solutions.

The sheer volume of streams flowing back and forth from venue to production hubs across the internet demands a comprehensive, agile and operationally sophisticated monitoring solution to match.

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Transport stream monitoring standard

Broadcasters must be able to monitor signals at multiple points across the chain with tools that are error free, lossless and secure. You want to detect any issue, identify where and what the problem is in order to fix it soon as possible. No longer can we rely on just monitoring video and audio signal levels. There is a massive new infrastructure involving multiple stakeholders to observe, to understand, and to diagnose. In the event of a delivery failure, tracking and verifying the source of any issue is important for quantifying potential liability.

The broadcaster should monitor for ETSI TR 101 290 compliance in the transport stream via user-determined properties like service bitrate, black video, audio silence, video freeze, PMT structure, resolution change, audio levels, and color space.

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Whenever video or data is manipulated, whether it’s being moved between facilities or run through a process such as encoding or transcoding, error detection is essential. So when (not if) your operator receives an alarm they can quickly identify the source and how to solve it, otherwise everything can get out of control.

TR 101 290 is a technical standard devised by the DVB Group for analyzing the integrity of MPEG transport streams. It tests where different parameters are monitored and measured in either frequency of occurrence or timing variation. The results are displayed on screen as either pass or fail indicators or, in the case of timing, with the use of a scale showing where the parameter’s result is in relation to its maximum allowed value. Other indicators will alert the operator to a pending fault if the values start to come close to the system’s limits.

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Transport stream monitoring solutions

Net Insight has comprehensive TS monitoring inbuilt into its products including the Nimbra 400 and Nimbra Edge. Supervision is made on all incoming and outgoing traffic for quality checks according to TR 101 290 parameters.
The specifics are as follows:

Alarms

The Alarms section in the Nimbra Edge main menu provides information about alert notifications within the Edge deployment. These alarms can be triggered by different entities such as appliances or internal components of the Edge deployment. There are four different alarm levels categorized by severity for critical, major, minor, and warning messages.

Metrics

Service Overview

The Service Overview is a live metrics monitoring tool to perform real-time analysis for the routing service of a particular input stream distributed across Nimbra Edge to reach the final destinations. This tool is accessible via the information overview for each input and output from the main menu.

A visualization graph is presented to display all the nodes involved in the routing service, from the input stream and appliance source, through the intermediate video nodes, and the final output streams at the destination appliances. For each node in the graph, detailed live monitoring statistics are displayed to operators.

It is possible click on each individual node to gather live metrics which includes:

  • Input/output information from the incoming/outcoming stream.
  • ARQ statistics for the protocol mode selected as input or output.
  • Transport stream information for the tracks and programs.
  • ETSI TR 101 290 analysis with priorities.

Advanced Metrics

Nimbra Edge includes analytics and monitoring Dashboards services to present live metrics of the different components of the deployment.

Dashboards can be configured for use including:

  • TR 101 290: live statistics from the deployment and the integrated appliances.
  • RIST overview: metrics gathered from the active RIST servers in the deployment.
  • Appliance metrics: metrics generated by the integrated appliances.
  • System resource usage: utilization statistics from the Kubernetes worker nodes.
  • Kubernetes Aggregated Container Stats: resource usage metrics for the Kubernetes pods.

For advanced debugging purposes, it is possible to see the network topology of the interconnected inputs, outputs, and appliances.

Audit Log

The logs from the deployment can be accessed via the Audit log section under the Settings menu. The logs are retrieved from the appliances and components of the Nimbra Edge deployment to gather any relevant information for management purposes. These logs can be filtered by different criteria.

Regions

The list of all internal and external Edge regions configured in the Nimbra Edge deployment can be seen in the Regions section under the Settings menu.

The Nimbra Edge platform includes a service overview with a graphical visualization of the full live media routing workflow from the source to all connected destination appliances. This visualization service overview is complemented with individual live transport monitoring metrics per node and an alarm system that reduces substantially the troubleshooting time for an operator.