The challenge of CI+ CAM deployment for TV operators

Many TV operators have been introducing CI+ CAM modules to their customers recently. But relying only on the official CI+ certification quickly proved problematic since many real world use cases are not covered by existing test. We have been working with TV operators to provide a comprehensive specification and test plan covering their very specific needs.

Operator certification is critical since interoperability issues could lead to many support calls, disgruntled customer and ultimately subscription cancelling. All these cost are born mainly by the operator itself not the equipment manufacturer. The loss of reputation also often falls on the operator for providing poor service since most operators provided CAM shows a big operator logo.

TV Operators should not underestimate the importance of testing

Creating and executing a test plan with large coverage can be tedious. At Rabbit Labs we have create a set of tools which ease the process of creating and maintaining large test plan. We have a complete document pipeline which start from master document to derive specifications, requirement summary, test plan, test result and even test streams. Having everything derived from a single location greatly reduces the risk of having inconsistencies and simplifies maintenance on the long term.

For stream generation we have developed our “Stream Morphing” technology. Instead of relying on large banks of test streams which are costly to create and maintain. We have a tool changing content of the stream at play time using a configuration file. Configuration file is stored within the main source document so we can check that what is generated really matches what is required for specific test. By generating most of the test material out of a reduced set of base stream we also greatly reduce the amount of data to transfer when the test need to be performed off site.

We have also developed our own CAM and Host devices. This devices use our in house chip with our own stack. Unlike commercial devices which have fixed settings, they can be programmed to implement a large set of behavior. This allows testing broader set of configuration without the need to maintain a large device zoo for compatibility verification. Configuration can be changed via Bluetooth or USB. It reduces the chances of operator manipulation error when accessing to configuration menu.

Finally all those technologies have been wrapped in our semi-automated test manager. This is a web based application that is generated automatically from the master document. This application helps the test to unroll a test plan while automatically configuring different devices (TS player, CAM…)

By cutting the cost of executing a correct test plan on large number of device, we truly believe we can greatly enhance final customer experience. We already created test plan for major operators and we want now to deploy more widely across Europe to make sure that upcoming CI+1.4 deployment will be a success story for operators.

This article originally appeared in InBroadCast magazine, January 2014

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