🤖The Functional Problem in ISP Support which can lead to a Case of Misguided Diagnostics🌵

🤖The Functional Problem in ISP Support which can lead to a Case of Misguided Diagnostics🌵

Why ISPs Need to Improve Diagnostic Tools for Better Customer Service


5 min read

In today's interconnected world, reliable internet connectivity is not just a convenience but a necessity. Businesses and individuals alike depend on seamless, high-performance internet to carry out their daily operations. However, the support provided by many ISPs (Internet Service Providers) is often inadequate, failing to address the true nature of connectivity issues. This article delves into the functional problems in ISP support, highlighting the limitations of current diagnostic tools and the broader implications of their flawed approaches.

The Limitations of Ping and MTR

ISPs commonly use diagnostic tools such as ping and MTR (My Traceroute) to troubleshoot connectivity issues. While these tools provide valuable insights, they are inherently limited to point-in-time diagnostics. This means they capture network performance at a specific moment, which may not correspond to the time when the customer experienced the problem.

Ping measures the round-trip time for packets sent from the source to a destination, providing a snapshot of latency and packet loss. MTR combines the functionality of traceroute and ping to map the path packets take and measure the quality of each hop along the way. Despite their utility, these tools are reactive rather than proactive, offering no historical perspective on network performance.

The Gap in ISP Diagnostics

One of the critical issues with ISP support is the lack of Network Management and Information Systems (NMIS) or comprehensive logging mechanisms. Without these systems, ISPs cannot effectively investigate problems that occurred in the past. Consequently, when a customer reports an issue, the ISP can only troubleshoot based on current network conditions, which often differ significantly from the conditions at the time of the incident.

This gap in diagnostics results in a situation where technical support personnel may look for evidence to support their stance while disregarding evidence that supports the customer's complaint. This phenomenon, reminiscent of the UK Post Office syndrome, undermines the credibility of ISP support and leaves customers frustrated.

The Issue of Subpar Equipment

Another significant problem is that ISPs frequently provide customers with low-quality, "dinky toy" equipment. These devices are often incapable of delivering a reasonable user experience and lack the sophistication to offer meaningful insights into user experience metrics. As a result, ISPs are unable to accurately gauge and address customer satisfaction.

The Misunderstanding of Latency vs. Throughput

A fundamental flaw in the ISP approach is the emphasis on throughput over latency. While throughput measures the volume of data transmitted over a network in a given time, latency measures the time it takes for data to travel from source to destination. Latency has a far greater impact on user experience, particularly for real-time applications such as video conferencing, online gaming, and VoIP.

However, ISPs have adopted a speed test approach that prioritizes raw throughput, ignoring the critical symptoms of poor latency. This misguided focus leads to situations where ISPs claim acceptable latency figures that, in reality, are far from nominal. For instance, a link in Johannesburg should not exhibit latency greater than 2ms. Yet, ISPs often assert that latencies akin to those experienced when connecting to Durban, Cape Town, or even Cote d'Ivoire are acceptable, which is far from the truth.

A link within spitting distance of Teraco

The Need for Proactive Monitoring

To address these issues, ISPs must adopt a more proactive approach to network monitoring and diagnostics. Implementing NMIS systems and comprehensive logging mechanisms can provide a historical perspective on network performance, enabling ISPs to troubleshoot issues based on the actual conditions experienced by customers.

Moreover, ISPs should prioritize the deployment of high-quality equipment capable of delivering a superior user experience. Understanding that latency, rather than just throughput, is a critical determinant of user satisfaction is essential for improving overall service quality.

ONT Porn

Adding insult to injury, many ISPs now demand a photo of the Optical Network Terminal (ONT) before they'll even think about proceeding with further diagnostics. This absurd requirement is akin to asking a mechanic to diagnose a car's engine trouble based on a photo of the bonnet. It demonstrates a lack of understanding of the real issues and a refusal to engage in meaningful troubleshooting. Instead of relying on robust NMIS systems and historical logs, they waste precious time on irrelevant formalities. This approach not only frustrates customers but also delays the resolution of real network issues. It’s high time ISPs ditch these nonsensical procedures and focus on genuine problem-solving.

The Rise of Software Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN)

Enter SD-WAN, a transformative solution that addresses these issues head-on. SD-WAN offers a sophisticated approach to network management, providing real-time analytics and historical data to diagnose and resolve issues effectively. Unlike the methods used by traditional ISPs, SD-WAN systems enable the continuously monitoring of network performance, allowing for proactive troubleshooting and quick resolution of problems as they arise.

SD-WAN leverages multiple last-mile links, optimizing traffic flow and ensuring seamless connectivity even during network disruptions. Its ability to manage and mitigate latency issues ensures a superior user experience, addressing one of the most critical shortcomings of current ISP practices. By prioritizing latency and utilizing advanced algorithms, SD-WAN minimizes packet loss and congestion, delivering a consistent and reliable connection.

Moreover, SD-WAN simplifies network management through centralized orchestration, eliminating the need for cumbersome equipment and complex configurations. This streamlined approach allows businesses to focus on their core operations, free from the constant worry of network issues and ISP inadequacies.


The current state of ISP support is plagued by functional shortcomings that leave customers dissatisfied and connectivity issues unresolved. By shifting from a reactive to a proactive approach, leveraging advanced diagnostic tools, and prioritizing latency over throughput, ISPs can significantly enhance their support services. This transformation is crucial for meeting the evolving needs of customers and ensuring reliable, high-performance internet connectivity.
SD-WAN provides a robust, efficient, and user-centric solution that outperforms traditional ISP support methods, ensuring businesses receive the quality connectivity they need to thrive in a digital world.

Ronald Bartels ensures that Internet inhabiting things are connected reliably online at Fusion Broadband South Africa - the leading specialized SD-WAN provider in South Africa. 👉 Contact Fusion