The increasing complexity of the cable-modem business requires more complicated software to handle various subscriber management situations.
Say a cable operator has a bandwidth hog who's consuming far more than his share. An operator can cut such a user off, only to have a poor unsuspecting customer-service representative take the wrath during a service call.
Or suppose an operator has a few customers who are minor bandwidth hogs and cost the company money, but who are worth keeping. An operator might want to upsell that subscriber, but isn't able to transmit that information adequately to the marketing staff.
Motive Communications Inc. believes it can address those two issues with its new Usage Policy Manager software.
The new product is designed to link business models with high-speed traffic patterns so operators can use broadband bandwidth to generate profits.
"You need to get beyond measuring packets and start managing profits," said Sanjay Castelino, director of product marketing for Motive's communications business unit.
"The challenge we've seen is that carriers and MSOs are being asked to drive increases in network capacity because customers are using data in new and different ways," he said. "Operators need to efficiently use that capacity."
Traditional network policy-management tools are often an island unto themselves, with no links to business policy-management tools, Castelino said. Motive's new Usage Policy Manager connects them, he said.
"We can take the data from the network side and create business rules that tie that data to subscriber based policies," he said. "We can gather data from the billing and OSS systems."
If a consumer is in a tiered "silver" package, but goes above the upper limit on bandwidth, it could trigger a call from a CSR or a marketing message from the marketing department.
If an MSO wanted to cut off a subscriber, Usage Policy Manager could automatically notify the marketing department, which could try to upsell the customer. It could also serve CSRs notice that a customer about to be cut off from service might be making an irate phone call.
"We have a business-rules process, a policy workflow engine and a set of business operations viewers," Castelino said. "Customer care can see what's happening to that subscriber."
"We're giving them the tools to help use and abuse cases," he said, adding "we can detect security breaches and look at other potential applications like churn management."
"For folks who are on the boundary when the limit is 2 Gigabits, you might want to upsell them. The action you take is to present an offer to send them to the next tier."
Thanks to new, bandwidth-consuming applications like peer-to-peer networking, operators need to look at managing their bandwidth effectively, because everything has a cost.
"It's hard to predict how much bandwidth you're going to use," he said.
Since its merger with BroadJump, Motive is widely used by the top MSOs, Castelino said. The company is talking to those MSOs about trialing Usage Policy Manager, but no sites have been announced.