ISPs that provide internet access always strive for 100% uptime, but the wonderfully complicated internet has so many dependencies that there will inevitably be some downtime on every customer's connection. Here are just some of the ways a life can get in the way of a stable connection:
- Network congestion, especially during peak hours
- There could be something wrong with the modem/router
- There could be a fault with wiring within the home, or from roadworks and tree roots damaging cabling outside the home.
- Equipment failure within an ISPs core network
- Interference from wind, rain and snow is a problem for wireless and satellite internet connections.
There are so many variables that work together to sustain your service, that a number of factors could potentially cause it to disconnect.
Currently, ISPs don’t have an efficient way to monitor these disconnections. Often it takes a major service outage that affects a large number of people for an ISP to notice the downtime on their network, from all the calls they receive during an outage. They also use crowdsource sites, where people can visit and report when their ISP is down, but unfortunately, this makes monitoring and addressing downtime more difficult for ISPs, as they don’t know how reliable these reports are.
Our double test solution
To provide a more dependable source for identifying disconnections, we have introduced a more intuitive and strategic way of measuring them, via our Disconnections Chart. We’ve built a new testing methodology that fuses a client-side measurement & a server-side measurement.
By client-side we mean, our user’s agents will be testing the connection from inside their home, so users can benefit from the accuracy it provides. But, we also wanted to introduce a new server-side measurement that shows when the client can’t connect. Meaning that, a disconnection can be seen on the Disconnections Chart while it’s ongoing, and the disconnection event isn’t lost when the router is rebooted – which is a common troubleshooting step during a disconnection.
We fuse the data between these two measurements to create a new & complete view of disconnections. When combined with the new visual improvements, the Disconnections Chart should be more accurate, and more intuitive.
When a customer calls up their ISP and says ‘my connection keeps dropping’, the care agent needs to be able to verify that this is actually what’s happening. If they can’t, then the issue is much harder to resolve. What we want to provide with our Disconnections Chart is a reliable source of truth to answer these questions, with both current and historical data. We want a care agent to be able to confirm, right away, that they see these disconnections. This would speed up issue resolution, but also reassure the customer, helping them to trust the expertise of the support staff.
How we display uptime and downtime
SamKnows has created the Disconnections chart as a way of visualizing downtime. This chart aims to help ISPs see where there’s scope for improving their service reliability, and allow care agents to see what their customers are experiencing and resolve support calls faster and more efficiently. By looking at the disconnections chart and understanding some contextual information about the connection, it’s possible to narrow down the cause of common disconnections. Here are some examples of what downtime can look like in different scenarios, and how we visualize it.
This chart is from a DSL customer who experiences recurring disconnections at peak time caused by network congestion.
This chart is from a Cable customer who was connected to a Faulty CMTS unit and had a total loss of service for two days while it was being fixed.
This chart is from a Fixed 5G customer during a heavy snow storm. The storm started at 2pm on the 1st Feb and continued until 9.30pm, you can see many short disconnections during that time.
We’ve had a visualization of disconnections since we introduced SamKnows SingleView 10 months ago. During that time we’ve learned a lot about what it does well, and how it could be improved. So here’s what we’ve done to make SingleView’s Disconnections chart more intuitive, straight-forward, and reassuring:
- We’ve swapped the time axis to read from left to right (instead of up and down) which is more intuitive for most people. It also means we can expand and contract the chart to accommodate different time spans more gracefully.
- New daily summaries let you understand at a glance on which days your connection was stable, and which were not.
- We now display an icon for clusters of short disconnections (which are shorter than we can display with one pixel) which reveal magnified detail on mouse over.
- We’ve improved how the test works, it can now display disconnections while a disconnection is happening by augmenting our client-side measurements with a server side measurement.
At SamKnows we're always improving, and our work is never done. These updates are based on our learnings over the past year, and provide a new foundation for visualising disconnections. Foundations they are, though, because this is the beginning, not the end. We're continuing to learn and understand how we can better serve our customers – so watch this space for more updates on this topic.
If you would like to monitor uptime on your network, contact us and request a demo!