July 23, 2009
Sandvine Inc. has launched a new release of its Fairshare traffic management system, adding new capabilities that, it claims, will help cable MSOs, telcos, and wireless Internet service providers do a better job keeping network congestion in check. (See Sandvine Upgrades Traffic Management .)
Sandvine says the new release, version 2.0, has been deployed by four as yet unidentified service providers that reach a combined 20 million Internet subscribers.
Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is Sandvine's most high profile Fairshare customer: The MSO deployed the platform in January 2009 as a "protocol agnostic" system following criticism of its earlier traffic management policy that throttled some upstream peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic. (See Comcast Goes 'Protocol Agnostic' Everywhere , Comcast Details Net Management Moves , and FCC Throttles Comcast.)
If Comcast isn't already using Sandvine's new release, it will at some point. All of Sandvine's historic Fairshare customers will migrate to the 2.0 version, and all new customers will use it from day one, according to Tom Donnelly, Sandvine's EVP of marketing and sales.
He says several other large operators worldwide are evaluating the new system, testing it in a range of cable, wireless, and DSL environments. "I wouldn't say it's concentrated in any one area in terms of interest and trials. The issue of congestion exists across all different types of networks," Donnelly says.
Sandvine, which reported sales of $15.2 million in the second quarter, declined to say what percentage of those revenues were derived from the Fairshare product line. (See Sandvine Reports Q2.)
Scaling and tailoring
Sandvine claims the new release enables operators to scale Fairshare to 1 million subs per server, a move that reduces deployment and operations costs. The first version of Fairshare, introduced in May 2008, scaled to about 500,000 subscribers per server.
Donnelly says other new features will allow service providers to identify network congestion in real time, help them develop their medium- and long-term capacity planning, and create specific traffic management policies for specific applications, such as VoIP.
The earlier release of Fairshare was more focused on "subscriber-oriented measurements," Donnelly says. "A lot of the improvements relate to underlying policy infrastructure to make it easier for our customers to take advantage of the ability to tailor [policies] to a specific business objective."
Some of those additions share traits found in an Internet traffic management system Cox Communications Inc. is testing in parts of Kansas and Arkansas. There, the MSO is delaying some "non-interactive" packets (typically tied to file uploads, P2P, Usenet, and other "non-time-sensitive" applications), and only during times of congestion. Those delays are said to be so brief (in the subseconds) that customers shouldn't really notice. All traffic returns to normal when the congestion abates. (See Cox: Packet Delays Won't Hurt and Cox to Test New Bandwidth Cop .)
But Cox's more application-centric approach isn't free of critics. Vuze Inc. complained that the system treats P2P services as "second-class citizens." (See Vuze Chirps at Cox.)
Although it was speculated that Cox was using Sandvine's technology to power the system, the MSO has not revealed any vendor partners, noting that it came up with the concept largely on its own.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News
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