Comcast Puts Software Management Under Auspice

Auspice Corp. has signed a licensing deal with Comcast Corp. for software-management tools that the nation’s largest MSO plans to use across its broadband services.

The deal is an extension of a pact Auspice signed with AT&T Broadband years ago, and allows Comcast access to various Auspice software products across all of its markets. (Comcast acquired AT&T Broadband in November 2002.)

“Auspice’s platform and products offer the functionality, timely implementation, extensibility and cost-effectiveness that we need to deploy advanced broadband multiservices,” Comcast senior vice president of national communications engineering and operations Charlotte Field said.

The pact is a comprehensive, multiyear licensing arrangement, said Auspice vice president of sales and business development William Yan. “It covers their two national operations centers, field support and customer support call centers,” he said.

The deal triggers Comcast’s use of any part of Auspice’s TLX automation platform and OpsLogic service suite they desire. That suite encompasses a number of tool sets, including:

  • Cross-Service HFC Plant Health Management, which allows MSOs to monitor hybrid fiber-coaxial plant devices, including nodes and transponders;
  • Cable-Modem Exception Monitor, which performs outage monitoring on looks as cable modems and cable-modem termination systems;
  • Voice Service Manager, an end-to-end telephony system-management tool;
  • Cable Modem Utilization Monitor, which monitors cable-modem usage and can be used for metered or tiered billing;
  • Service Visibility Portal, which monitors the status of network devices with billing and provisioning systems, IP servers and other interactive diagnostic and troubleshooting tools;
  • Service Visibility Portal Home Access Extension, which provides home-networking monitoring;
  • and IP Address Management System, an automated Internet-protocol address inventory provisioning and auditing system.

Auspice began working in AT&T Broadband systems in 2001, with a circuit-switched telephony system monitoring tool that reduced the load on the trouble-ticketing system by cutting back on false alarms. That allowed AT&T to cut down the mean time to repair service by 30% in just four months in operations, as the company was able to automate many manual processes, Yan said.

Later, AT&T deployed Auspice software to apply intelligent device monitoring to its high-speed data network, correlating plant problems with billing and provisioning systems, for instance.

“You have to develop a correlation or you can have poor customer service,” Field said.

The voice service manager, for instance, allows MSOs to monitor Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification modems, embedded multimedia terminals, cable modem termination systems and HFC plant to pinpoint problems with VoIP service.

“We’re looking at performance or outages, and relate that device to the plant,” Yan said. “Or it may be an HFC problem or maybe a performance issue. We can extend that to trouble ticket automation.”

Yan said Auspice is working with Comcast vendors, like Cisco Systems Inc., Arris Group Inc. and CedarPoint Communications Inc. While soft switch and media-gateway vendors can test their own products, the Auspice software gives MSOs a view across the entire spectrum of technology being used to deliver VoIP service.

The IP provisioning software, for instance, allows MSOs to move IP address provisioning from a spreadsheet to a computer screen.

“The software can look up and update addresses and provision addresses,” Yan said.

The service-visibility portal allows customer support employees to view all the devices in the cable plant to determine service problems being reported by subscribers.