Progression in the Test and Measurement industry over the last few years is not only a matter of scale and market growth; though this itself has been remarkable, with global broadcasters now recognising the integral nature of T&M solutions, not as bolted-on afterthoughts, but fundamental bases for developing end-to-end broadcast infrastructures.
No, what has been more fundamental – and what has indeed informed this growth – is a change in mindset. Previously, T&M solutions were seen as temporally limited in their nature; applying only at discrete moments in time, either to pre-test services before deployment, or as post-problem identifiers used to point fingers and assign blame. But as T&M solutions have evolved – particularly in the field of IP – the scope of T&M application has extended to cover a much wider range of applications and areas of broadcast, running constantly before, during and after broadcast, and facilitating planning, testing, in-the-moment adjustment, error detection, error avoidance, diagnostics and strategic review. Furthermore, by changing focus towards monitoring Quality of Experience, rather than mere Quality of Service, these factors combine to ensure that far from merely identifying mistakes, networks can ensure audiences never even see them. In environments where audience switching costs are next to zero, this is of vital importance.
But a further – and perhaps more significant – development arising from this real-time, QoE focus occurs in the field of production. Where historically T&M has focused on monitoring ingress and distribution – now, because of the ability to facilitate real-time feedback that informs micro, in-the-moment decision making, and through the ability to monitor QoS (i.e. what the audience actually sees) – the up-shot is that T&M metrics are not only used to inform network diagnostics, but also the creative decisions undertaken in-studio by colourists, audio engineers and producers. Through the delivery of constant, real-time, visually-intuitive data drawn from monitoring probes based at the heart of the IP-production studio, the whole production studio – whether fixed or remote – can leverage monitoring data. The net result is that the quality of production and the reliability of eventual service experienced by the audience are all dramatically enhanced.