OpenVault monitors HFC, fiber networks for impairments and heavy users

OpenVault is a company that serves mainly the cable industry to provide data about usage on their networks. The company was founded in 2010 and has about 60 employees.

Its bread-and-butter business is to monitor fiber and hybrid fiber coax (HFC) networks to identify impairments and notify operators so that problems can be quickly resolved.

Mark Trudeau, CEO and founder of OpenVault, said the company collects usage data from about 60 million subscribers globally. It collects data directly from operators’ networks whether from the cable modem termination systems (CMTS) or from the optical line terminals (OLTs). OpenVault’s biggest customer is Charter Communications. But it works with a mix of operators from Tier 1s to Tier 3s in North America, Latin America and Europe.

One use for OpenVault’s software is to help operators keep their DOCSIS 3.1 CMTSs from reverting to DOCSIS 3.0 in the event of an impairment.

Things that might cause an impairment in a DOCSIS 3.1 CMTS could be storms or wildlife impacting the infrastructure. It could also be things like noise in a subscriber’s home that the CMTS can pick up, which could cause problems for a whole neighborhood.

Extreme power users

In its most recent quarterly report about broadband usage OpenVault shined a light on some behavior of “power users” and how to deal with them, such as moving them to a more appropriate monthly plan. 

The report notes that power users stream more than 2.2 TB of data per month, nearly six times as much as average users. OpenVault defines an average user as one who consumes 400-600 GB per month. Recently, OpenVault has even begun to track "extreme power users" of 5 TB or more per month.

What are the extreme users doing with all that bandwidth? They could be crypto-mining or have some kind of BitTorrent usage. Or they might simply have a lot of security cameras that are streaming video all the time. Or perhaps they just have a big family that uses a lot of devices for high-bandwidth applications such as gaming.

Another interesting thing about power users is that their usage is more constant, as compared to average users whose peak usage happens between 6-10 pm.

Those high bandwidth users could be causing other customers in the same service area to see decreased performance. And the operator might have to consider spending capital to split the node in the neighborhood to solve the problem.

Conversely, “if an operator can identify those customers, they can be proactive and reach out,” said Trudeau.