TI Embedding Quality Control for VoIP

Texas Instruments is betting that VoIP manufacturers are going to want to bake enhanced quality control directly into their devices.

TI’s new PIQUA system is a digital signal processor (DSP) -based technology that enables real-time management of IP devices for voice over IP, video over IP, IPTV, and other applications.

PIQUA analyzes real-time quality-related calculations that provide the basis for IP devices to adjust dynamically and ensure optimum performance. The quality management tools that make up PIQUA analyze a variety of factors such as dropped packets, echo, and line delay.

Tom Flanagan, director of technical strategy, DSP Systems, Texas Instruments, explained that there are a number of traditional issues related to managing IP traffic for VoIP. Those issues relate to how packets move across a network. They get delayed (jitter), lost, reordered, etc., based on how heavily the equipment and interfaces (DSL, cable, WLAN, etc.) in the transmission path are loaded and how well they perform.

“PIQUA’s breakthrough is introducing measurements throughout this path, and, where possible, making tuning adjustments on the fly based on observed measures,” Flanagan told VoIPplanet.com. “Changes vary from jitter buffer adjustments to bandwidth adjustments to changes in the encoding and decoding techniques that are being used to support the session.”

“All of this occurs above the traditional QoS techniques of prioritizing certain types of traffic—voice over data for example.”

Since the product was first announced earlier this month, Flanagan, noted that the response has been very positive.

“Analysts are telling us we are the only company thinking this way,” Flanagan said. “Operators are saying it sounds like what they need. Manufacturers are still a little skeptical, since it means changes to their products. They want to hear it from the operators before they commit.”

Initially PIQUA is going to be aimed specifically at VoIP applications, and is expected to appear in equipment before the end of 2006. PIQUA will only be available via TI-enabled services (operators who spec TI-based equipment). However, Flanagan explained that TI intends to promote what it is doing to the appropriate standards bodies so that, in the long run, other manufacturers could implement these ‘PIQUA enhanced’ standards and contribute to overall market growth.

There haven’t necessarily been specific barriers in the past to deploying a PIQUA-like solution. It’s just an idea whose time has come.

“The VoIP industry’s focus to this point has been on simply replicating the functions of the PSTN over IP,” Flanagan said. “Having achieved this, we are leading the industry by working on what is required to achieve mass deployments—in other words, to scale.”

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