Cablevision Systems Corp. and Time Warner Cable are in the initial stages of testing or rolling out new service-assurance software from Acterna Corp. that's designed to give cable operators a better view of the trouble spots in their plant.
The new Vision360 service suite compiles information on fault management, performance, and test and measurement to give operators a quicker and more complete understanding of troubles lying within the network.
"We're correlating information in real time," said John Hart, vice president and general manager of Acterna's operational support systems business unit. "We can handle and isolate problems."
Both Cablevision and Time Warner are using Acterna's set-top software, which helps determine problems in the return path.
For instance, return-path noise can prevent video-on-demand subscribers from successfully ordering a movie, or seamlessly switching from one subscription VOD program to another. Noise could also cause a delay in sending content down the pipe, which could mean that subscribers must hit their remote control again and again until they receive the program they want to watch.
That doesn't just frustrate the viewer — it opens the possibility they could get double-billed for some programming, or not be billed properly at all.
"We're real strong in test and measurement," Hart said. "It's an natural extension, [a] growth area to go forward into the OSS environment. We have an application suite focused on service assurance.
"Cable operators have to start getting revenue from existing assets and there are no systems that look at all of the pieces and troubleshoots the network," he added. "That's where I think we're going to excel."
A number of larger companies that offer OSS solutions have made their pitch to cable operators in the past few years, but few have gained much traction. One reason: Cable operators just don't spend like the telcos.
"The propensity to spend a lot of money in this market is just not there," Hart acknowledged.
Acterna also benefits from being a long-time test-and-measurement supplier to cable. "We can leverage those relationships," Hart said.
Cablevision is using a portion of Acterna's Vision 360 application that relates to alarm correlation, said Hart. The software helps operators analyze and quickly resolve multiple alarm signals in their plant related to interactive-television and VOD services.
Time Warner also tested Acterna software in Tampa, Fla., and the MSO plans another test in Greensboro, N.C., Hart said.