Miranda tames alarms and corrects loudness

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    Pay TV operators have wrestled for years with the need for network intelligence and the costs of information overload. How much data is enough? And what is the best way to act upon the information you do have?

    The arrival of more end devices and video streams has pushed monitoring requirements up another notch and given technicians in network operations centers (NOCs) yet another screen of blinking red lights to triage in the event of signal performance falling outside acceptable parameters. At this week’s Cable Tec Expo in Orlando, Miranda will be highlighting a video monitoring solution that plays well with existing telemetry and a processing device that can help bring operators into compliance with laws now governing excessive loudness.

    On the video monitoring front, Pay TV operators with sufficient means have tended to combine vendor-specific device and signal monitoring products with homegrown supervisory engines that tap into those streams of data. What Miranda’s IControl platform offers is an alternative overlay product with the capability of probing into signal impairments. One of its goals is to manage the confusion of so-called “alarm storms.”

    “I liken it to Mission Control during Apollo 13,” said Mitchell Askenas, Director of Business Development for TV Service Providers for Miranda. “All the lights started blinking, but no one actually knew what the problem was.”

    Apart from the deluge of information, one of the challenges in such a scenario is the false positive. Or in the case of television signals, the alarm could be legitimate, yet not actually impact customer experience. In addition to correlating video alarms across the plant and signal path, Miranda’s IControl headend module verifies the alarms received as actionable and valid. It also displays the alarms in ways that facilitate network diagnosis.

    Askenas said the probing part of the solution is able to confirm impairments such as freeze, block, pixelation and audio imbalance, but does not replace existing video monitoring products. “Ineoquest, Tektronix (Mixed Signals) … are very well integrated into IControl,” he said.

    At Expo, Miranda is also addressing the need to comply with legislation such as the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act in the U.S. and similar initiatives elsewhere. “So far as I know, we’re the only one who does multichannel audio monitoring and correction in one box,” Askenas said. “Correction” being the operative term.

    In addition to monitoring and correcting, Miranda’s Axino solution is real-time rather than file-based. While Miranda, which was acquired by connectivity giant Belden in July, has traditionally operated in baseband given its broadcasting roots, Axino is IP-based, with the capability of handling an entire Gigabit Ethernet stream, or about 175 audio channels in one box. Axino uses Dolby decoders to help measure the signal correctly, loudness control algorithms from Miranda to adjust the signal and Dolby encoders to re-encode the audio and then multiplex it back into the video stream without introducing any type of lip-synch issue.

    While timely, neither of these platforms is brand new. Askenas said the fully redundant Axino already is “being deployed by some large operators as we speak” and that seven of the top nine multichannel video distribution providers in the U.S., including cable, IPTV and satellite operators, have deployed IControl.

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