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Stargus

Company specializes in network solutions.

Creating your own opportunity is a dot-com article of faith. Jason Schnitzer, co-founder and CTO of Boston-based Stargus helped to create the standard that his company now creates software for. We asked him how Stargus fills its self-created niche in the broadband industry.

Tell us a little about Stargus. How was it founded, and when?

Stargus was founded in June 2000 with the goal of addressing the need for comprehensive network and service management solutions specifically designed for broadband cable networks. Prior to starting the company, the founding team had been involved in the development of the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) standard while working as visiting engineers at CableLabs, a research and development consortium for the cable industry. We helped design the standard so that traditional network management software vendors could leverage it to help cable operators better manage their cable modem networks. When none of those vendors showed any interest in designing some cable-specific software centered on DOCSIS, we left our jobs at various cable operators and started Stargus. From the initial founding team of three people, Stargus has grown to over 40 employees.

Tell us about your CableEdge products.

When we set out to create network management software for cable operators, we wanted to enable them to “see” their network from a whole new perspective. Rather than the usual equipment-centric view of a network — is this router working or not, etc. — we wanted to give them a view of the network’s performance and service quality from their customers’ perspective. To do this, our CableEdge software is constantly collecting and analyzing an unbelievable amount of information from the cable operator’s network, even ones that have up to millions of cable modems on them. Based on that information, CableEdge makes recommendations to help cable operators optimize their network performance and even proactively address potential problems, such as congestion and outages, before they impact customers.

You can appreciate how this will benefit cable modem subscriber. If you have a problem with your cable modem today — your connection is down or the service is slow — when you call up your cable operator, they often have no idea there is a problem or where it is. Usually they send someone out in a truck to try and figure out what is wrong. It’s a reactive, inefficient and costly way to manage a network. CableEdge gives operators all the information they need to proactively avoid congestion and outages. That results in a better experience for customers, fewer calls to customer support, and fewer truck rolls for the cable operator.

Has the changing economy affected your business? What have you done to adjust?

Actually, the current economy has only served to emphasize the value we deliver to cable operators. In this tough economy, cable operators are looking for ways to reduce costs while also improving their customers’ experience. By giving them visibility and control over the portion of their networks that connects them to their customers, our software can help cable operators ensure the services they are delivering meet or exceed the expectations of their customers while at the same time reducing their costs.

What’s in the future for Stargus?

Near term, we’ve got live network trials with two of the Top 10 cable operators going on right now, so we are completely focused on supporting them and engaging other customers. Longer term, look for us to develop additional CableEdge applications to support cable operators as they roll out new services, such as tiered services and VoIP.

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