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Policy + charging

Camiant Plugs Policy Server Power

Based on what Camiant Inc. is claiming these days, it looks as though PacketCable Multimedia (PCMM) has quietly become a fairly widely adopted platform. (See Camiant Hypes Footprint.)

PCMM, as a reminder, is a CableLabs -specified architecture that adds quality of service (QoS) and "resource accounting" capabilities to all sorts of IP-based applications, including video, voice, and even Docsis-powered data. CableLabs published the original specifications about five years ago.

Camiant, a key supplier of the PCMM architecture's policy server, claimed today that its Multimedia Policy Engine (MPE) now reaches more than 70 percent of North American cable modem subs, touching on the order of 30 million cable modems and embedded multimedia terminal adapters (E-MTAs), according to company estimates.

Camiant's highest-profile deployment is with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), which is using the firm's technology as part of a new "protocol agnostic" bandwidth management system. The MSO completed an across-the-board deployment late last year by pairing Camiant's MPE with Sandvine Inc. 's "Congestion Management Fairshare" servers.

Generally speaking, Sandvine's bandwidth management technology handles the traffic reporting and network resource allocation, while Camiant's component enforces the policies. (See Comcast Goes 'Protocol Agnostic' Everywhere and Comcast Details Net Management Moves .)

Among other public deployments, Cox Communications Inc. is using Camiant's gear for a "Speed Preview" application, and Canada's Vidéotron Telecom Ltd. has it deployed in support of a videophone service. (See Cox Deploys Camiant.)

Comcast, however, is Camiant's largest deployment customer, according to Camiant VP of business development Randy Fuller. Looking ahead, he says growth will not come from new footprint so much as from existing customers that opt to add new applications that take advantage of the policy server and the overarching PCMM architecture

Camiant VP of business development Randy Fuller says some customers are using PCMM for two or three different applications, though QoS for VoIP is by far the most commonly used application.

Fuller expects more MSOs to make use of his firm's Fair Use Management application, which can be used to support cable modem data usage "quotas," or other services that are billed on a volume basis. (See Camiant Intros 'Fair Use' Bandwidth System and Rogers Takes Internet Meter to the Masses.)

He's also hopeful that Camiant can win new business supporting mobile data services, especially as the MSOs embark on their own wireless service strategies. (See Cox Wireless: Soup to Nuts and Cable Plays Clearwire Card.)

Camiant will face competition, though, from Sandvine, which added policy management to its armory in June 2007 with the acquisition of CableMatrix Technologies. (See Sandvine on Acquisition Spree.)

Sandvine's approach is different, though. While Camiant targets cable operators with a stand-alone policy server, Sandvine has integrated the CableMatrix technology into a multifunctional platform that it markets to MSOs and broadband service providers that use DSL and fiber access technologies.

"They [Camiant] would be a competitive approach, but not a peer competitor," says Sandvine CTO Don Bowman.

He says five or six MSOs have, to some extent, deployed Sandvine's CableMatrix element, now called the Service Delivery Engine, with some using it for consumption-based billing applications alongside Sandvine's policy traffic switch.

Bowman, naturally, considers the acquisition a success. "We've made a fair bit of money with the [CableMatrix] technology," he claims. Not enough to pull the company into profit in the fourth quarter, though. (See Sandvine Posts Q4 Loss.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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