Test Opinion

June 7, 2010 10:12 pm
Filed Under: Editorial, News, Opinion

Mean opinion score (MOS) is a test that has been used for decades in telephony networks to obtain the human user’s view of the quality of the network. Historically, and implied by the word Opinion in its name, MOS was a subjective measurement where listeners would sit in a “quiet room” and score call quality as they perceived it; per ITU-T recommendation P.800, “The talker should be seated in a quiet room with volume between 30 and 120 m3 and a reverberation time less than 500 ms (preferably in the range 200-300 ms).

The room noise level must be below 30 dBA with no dominant peaks in the spectrum.” Measuring Voice over IP (VoIP) is more objective, and is instead a calculation based on performance of the IP network over which it is carried. The calculation, which is defined in the ITU-T PESQ P.862 standard. Like most standards, the implementation is somewhat open to interpretation by the equipment or software manufacturer. Moreover, due to technological progress of phone manufacturers, a calculated MOS of 3.9 in a VoIP network may actually sound better than the formerly subjective score of > 4.0.

In multimedia (audio, voice telephony, or video) especially when codecs are used to compress the bandwidth requirement (for example, of a digitized voice connection from the standard 64 kilobit/second PCM modulation), the MOS provides a numerical indication of the perceived quality from the users’ perspective of received media after compression and/or transmission. The MOS is expressed as a single number in the range 1 to 5, where 1 is lowest perceived audio quality, and 5 is the highest perceived audio quality measurement.