Sandvine Upgrades Bandwidth-Management Platform


Sandvine has enhanced its Fairshare system -- used by Comcast and other providers to manage congestion on broadband networks -- to blend the ability to control bandwidth consumption based on both user activity and application types.

When Sandvine debuted Fairshare last May "originally the focus was on ‘application agnostic' policies," said Tom Donnelly, Sandvine's executive vice president of marketing and sales. Since then, operators have found a need to combine application- and subscriber-specific functions, he said.

The Fairshare Traffic Management 2.0 platform, which became generally available in June, is able to manage network access using both application and subscriber-usage data. For example, for a time-sensitive application such as live video streaming, Fairshare 2.0 can be configured to ensure subscribers accessing video don't get their connections ratcheted down.

"Service providers should be making intelligent, informed decisions to manage not only on a per-subscriber basis but for the network as a whole," Donnelly said, adding, "Users don't experience quality on a per-bit basis."

Also with version 2.0, Sandvine has doubled the capacity of Fairshare to be able to support 1 million users per server, up from about 500,000.

The Fairshare platform has been deployed by Comcast and three other cable and DSL service providers in North America and Europe.

Last September, Comcast described in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission how it would migrate to a different means of managing bandwidth congestion on its networks -- after the agency ordered the MSO to stop hindering peer-to-peer applications.

Previously, Comcast said, it had used the Sandvine Policy Traffic Switch to limit the number of upstream connections certain peer-to-peer applications could initiate. Under the new approach, Comcast curtails bandwidth for high-consumption subscribers, which were defined as those using an average of 70% or more their provisioned upstream or downstream bandwidth over a 15-minute period during periods of network congestion.

In addition to the Sandvine Fairshare system, the MSO said it would use Camiant's PacketCable Multimedia servers to signal to cable modem termination systems which modems should be throttled back.

Asked whether the capabilities of the Fairshare 2.0 system, by incorporating the ability to manage traffic based on application type, runs counter to the FCC's stated Internet management principles, Donnelly said, "It's the intent and application of the policies that matter. At any given point in time you have finite resources, and one of the things service providers can do and should do is to look to optimize the network."

Sandvine, based in Waterloo, Canada, claims its network-management solutions have been deployed in 70 countries with service providers representing more than 80 million subscribers.