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April 24, 2009

Service Providers, Improve Quality with Telchemy VQmon Agent Software

By Jessica Kostek, TMCnet Channel Editor

For those who work at a call or contact center, not much thought is given to the service or technology being used on a daily basis. The bottom line, at least for the center’s employees, is that each product, whether it is software or hardware, functions properly enough for them to do their job. 
For Telchemy (News - Alert), ensuring service providers and major enterprises the proper deployment and management of Voice over IP, Audio/ Video Streaming Video over IP and Networked Game services is its number one priority.
The company’s belief, as stated on its Website, is “that future networks need to be self-managing, self-diagnosing and self-healing (autonomic) to support large scale deployment of these QoS-sensitive networked multimedia applications. Emerging distributed network management systems need to monitor application performance from the users' perspective and integrate directly with admission control, route selection and network control systems to support real-time fault and performance management.”
Telchemy’s VQmon agent software, used by over 90 equipment vendors, has been assisting companies in monitoring their produces, such as Texas Instruments (News - Alert), who have already pre-integrated the software into its VoIP silicon solutions. Telchemy officials state that a wide range of probes and analyzers that can be deployed in network operations centers and on larger customer sites are available – and almost all VoIP test equipment providers use the same VQmon software for VoIP analysis, ensuring consistency.
Telchemy’s CEO, Alan Clark (News - Alert) Ph.D., in an interview with TMCnet said there are highly cost-effective solutions available from a number of suppliers that fall into two major categories:
  1. Passive (live call) monitoring - Embedded software agents in IP phones (e.g., Nortel or Polycom (News - Alert)), VoIP gateways or routers (e.g. Adtran) on the customer premises are able to monitor the quality of every call and report back to the service provider using RTCP XR (RFC3611) or SIP RTCP Summary Reports. This allows the service provider to track service levels, automatically detect poor quality calls and perform problem identification.
  1. Active (test call) monitoring - Active test agents can be installed on servers (e.g. an existing file or print server), integrated into customer premises equipment, or downloaded on demand to support troubleshooting. This type of agent supports pre-deployment testing, SLA monitoring and on-demand troubleshooting. Telchemy’s DVQattest agents, for example, can both generate VoIP test calls and perform in-depth IP problem diagnosis and location, and are available in both permanently installed and downloadable forms.
“Active and passive solutions are entirely complementary,” Clark says. “Passive monitoring provides information on what actually happened on customer calls and generates no additional traffic in order to measure quality levels. Active testing provides the ability to detect some problems before they affect users, and supports more advanced troubleshooting.”
Here’s an example.
A customer location has 20 IP phones, and both the IP phones and the router have been supplied by the service provider and are equipped with passive monitoring agents (e.g. VQmon). There are two problems affecting service quality – congestion on the T1 connection to the customer and a duplex mismatch problem on the customer premises that affects 8 of the 20 IP phones.
“Each call that is made to or from an IP phone on the customer premise is monitored by the IP phone and also by the agent software in the router, Clark says, “and the call reports contain metrics for both the send and receive directions, and includes MOS scores, packet loss, jitter and analog signal metrics.” 
Clark continues, “From an analysis of the data provided by the embedded agents, the service provider quickly understands that the customer was experiencing quality problems, and was able to diagnose the problems from call quality records.” 
“If the service provider was also utilizing an active test system with downloadable agents, they would be able to identify more specifically what (the problem) is,” adds Clark.
Providing excellent service should be the number one priority and most likely is, for service providers, especially now when performance matters in order to keep customers happy and their patronage. For more information on how Telchemy can help visit their Website or learn more about them on their 3G, VoIP, IPTV Performance Management channel here on TMCnet.

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