What is QoE?
In telecommunications, Quality of Experience (QoE) refers to the fulfillment of the expectations of the end user regarding the enjoyment or utility of a service or product from a personal and unique point of view. In other words, QoE is the degree of satisfaction or quality perception of the end user on a particular application or service.
We could say that, although they are related, the main difference between QoE and Quality of Service (QoS) is that QoS focuses on objectively measuring service and network parameters, while QoE is oriented at subjectively measuring the end users’ perception on the value of a service.
End user QoE is largely influenced by the visualization experience over video streaming platforms such as Netflix, YouTube or Amazon Prime Video. The ability to measure, analyze and understand user sensations and experiences is essential for provider’s growth and continuous improvement. Nevertheless, getting QoE insight on the streaming visualization experience of these OTT platforms is a huge challenge for providers.
Let’s discuss how streaming visualization experience is commonly measured and some opportunities for improvement to provide a better QoE experience to end users.
How is streaming visualization experience commonly measured?
Currently, systems measuring streaming visualization experience (VE) consider only one parameter: buffering time. Buffering time is defined as the amount of time spent on filling the video player buffer without playing the video. Buffering time in the corresponding mathematical formula provides the final VE value. The process is as follows:
- A witness file is transferred to a buffer space using the maximum bandwidth available.
- The file is consumed from the buffer space using necessary bandwidth that allows maintaining a predefined video resolution.
- If a buffer underrun event occurs, it is registered as though the video streaming stopped and is considered video buffering.
This is the approach used by most software solutions – but this process doesn’t take into account video content platforms particularities.
A different approach to measuring streaming visualization experience
At Intraway, we measure streaming visualization experience taking into account other parameters. We understand that you need to integrate to the context the content provider, in order to get a KPI that more closely resembles end users’ real experience.
We consider the following parameters, and then apply the corresponding mathematical formula in order to obtain the final value:
- Video Played: Indicates whether the video was played or not.
- Play Time: Indicates the amount of time the video was playing and not buffering.
- Buffering Time: Indicates the amount of time the video stores data in the buffer.
In other words, to obtain this KPI a sampling of video frames is evaluated – verifying the time it takes to start playing, how much time it plays and how much time it is buffering.
It doesn’t always work this way. For example, Netflix Digital Rights Management (DRM) does not allow frame capturing. In this case, we force the display of the necessary values on screen and from there we get the parameters.
Going a step further – Adding video resolution to the mix
After careful consideration, we optimized how we measure VE, incorporating new parameters into the equation and creating a new KPI called Enhanced Visualization Experience (EVE).
This new measure considers the following parameters, and then applies the corresponding mathematical formula in order to obtain the final value:
- Resolution (RES): Indicates all the resolutions the video was viewed on during playback.
- Percentage of Time on Each Resolution: Indicates the percentage of time the video was played at a certain resolution.
- Maximum Resolution: Indicates the expected resolution (configured value).
- Play Time: Indicates the amount of time the video played.
With this new KPI, operators can know if the video is being reproduced on a lower resolution than expected, a more objective representation of the end user’s point of view. Otherwise, the VE KPI could indicate favorable values when in fact the resolution of the video is unacceptable, leading to poor user QoE.
This feature is part of Intraway’s QX Suite solution, a customer experience solution that measures Quality of Experience of the user in real time, based on real events.