Small Op Hires Enforcer to Handle P2P

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Almost as soon as Northland Cable rolled out high-speed Internet access last year, the MSO saw lots of peer-to-peer traffic.

“Seventy percent of our traffic at the time was peer-to-peer,” said network engineer Robert Wolfe.

Faced with bandwidth overload — and with very few subscribers on its new high-speed Internet platform — the MSO tapped Allot Communications to help control bandwidth usage.

“NetEnforcer allow us to monitor our bandwidth and control our costs,” Wolfe said.

Northland, which serves 250,000 subscribers in nine states, launched high-speed data a few years ago, but rolled out the service in earnest last summer, Wolf said. Soon after, it rolled out Allot’s NetEnforcer to some 80 headends.

THREE TIERS

Northland offers three tiers of service, at download speeds of 512 Kilobits per second, 1 Megabit per second and 1.5 Mbps. It is upgrading the two highest service levels by another half-Megabit each, to 1.5 Mbps and 2 Mbps, respectively.

“We’re launching [in] six more markets now, and we’re upgrading plant and rolling out new areas constantly,” Wolfe said.

Northland has some high-profile college markets. It serves Georgia Southern University in Statesville, Ga.; Clemson University in Clemson, S.C., and Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss.

Although Northland has seen heavy Net traffic in those college towns, Wolfe said he’s also seen heavy peer-to-peer traffic in other areas. That made the move to NetEnforcer more important.

“We’re integrating that part of the service right from the start,” Wolfe said.

“Our goal with NetEnforcer is to control the bandwidth while real time surfing is not affected.

“Our goal is that no one says: 'Are you shaving our bandwidth?’ As our market grows, we allow more traffic and add bandwidth.”

10-MEG VERSION

Northland is buying the latest version of the NetEnforcer, a 10-Mbps box that allows for software upgrades as subscriber loads increase.

Allot also is offering two new products for cable operators, Allot CEO P.G. Narayanan said. One is an application-level monitoring and prioritization product, the second a subscriber-management product.

The software allows MSOs to look at the traffic flowing from the cable-modem termination systems to the Internet.

“Those connections are oversubscribed by most service providers,” Narayanan said. “That’s where our product fits. You can manage by subscriber and monitor by application. The cable operator can prioritize data or [voice-over-Internet protocol] or e-mail.”

NetEnforcer allows operators to set limits according to the time of day or bandwidth usage.

The software allows operators to see who their top users are, from which servers content flows and which parts of the system carry the most traffic.

NetEnforcer can track the number of connections per IP address, bandwidth utilization and dropped packets, all in a Web-based graphical form for engineers to see.

INTERNATIONAL DEALS

Allot has picked up some momentum abroad, signing a deal with MegaCable in Mexico. “They put in NetEnforcer to prioritize web traffic,” Narayanan said. “With [peer-to-peer] traffic, they want to control the uplink.”

Allot also has signed a deal with TVC to bundle NetEnforcer with its product line for the Latin American market.

Overall, Narayanan sees increased interest from cable operators.

“We’re seeing the cable side getting a very good interest in the product,” he said. “They have the user-level visibility, but not the application-level visibility. It’s that extra level of intelligence, how they are using it, when and how much.”

There also is the security aspect, he said, with respect to denial-of-service attacks.

“We can block them, and protect the downstream a little better,” he said.

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