ISP, Technical Support

Is TR-069 the best network diagnostics solution for ISP support teams?

If you're an internet service provider, you've likely heard of TR-069.

Once an ISP decides to provide diagnostics to its support teams, TR-069 invariably comes up. It's one of the most popular network diagnostics solutions out there today and in theory, TR-069 can provide ISP support teams with a plethora of information on the network.

The problem is, theory and practice are not the same thing.

We've worked with a countless ISPs who've implemented TR-069 into their organizations only to find that the diagnostics provided aren’t as in-depth as they were expecting and didn't actually help their support teams on home network related calls as much as they'd hoped.

So, we wanted to share some of the top reasons these companies identified for either wanting to switch from TR-069 to a more holistic network diagnostics solution or use both RouteThis and TR-069 in tandem.

3 Reasons TR-069 may not be the right diagnostic solution for your support team

1. TR-069 diagnostics aren't standard across all devices

TR-069-doesn-t-work-on-all-devices

The first major problem with TR-069 solutions is that agents don’t get the same diagnostics on all customers.

TR-069 relies heavily on the router/modem combo in the customer’s home. So, if a customer brings their own router - even if they use the modem provided by the ISP - the agent can only see up to the modem.

That’s great for identifying issues with the ISP’s infrastructure, but completely useless when it comes to problems inside the customer’s home.

And, even if an ISP provides both modems and routers to customers, agents will still get different diagnostics off of different router/modem combos.

So if a customer calls in with a problem that requires information the agent isn’t able to get from that specific TR-069 implementation, they’re back to the same lengthy troubleshooting processes the system was expected to solve.

2. TR-069 can't cover the entire customer base quickly enough

TR-069-implementation-take-too-long

The natural solution to the point above is to roll out CPEs to all customers and demand they use a specific router/modem combo. This will ensure that an ISP can gather the same diagnostics from all customers without worrying about the networking equipment each customer may be using.

The problem with this is that if you’re an ISP with a significant subscriber base, an equipment rollout of that scale can take years.

And until the entire customer base is covered, support will only be able to assist the small fraction of customers who have that new equipment in their homes, limiting the value your team will see.

For example, if an ISP launches their first router/modem combo device this year, it stands to reason that most new subscribers will have that equipment. But they can only expect a portion of their existing customers - say 15 to 20% per year - to actually update to the new equipment. At that rate, it could be 5+ years before the TR-069 enabled devices are rolled out to all customers.

And the support team will only see marginal improvements in call times, churn, resolution rates etc. until that 5-year rollout is complete.

What's more, technology is sure to change in that time. Meaning the equipment will be outdated and unable to support new protocols and the cutting edge TR-069 system developed 5 years before will need to be updated with new and more relevant diagnostics.

What ISP wants or can afford to redo the same project every 5 years?

3. TR-069 does not always provide useful diagnostics to support agents

TR-069-diagnostics-aren-t-always-helpful

As we mentioned above, TR-069 can theoretically provide all the diagnostics ISP support agents need about customers' home networks. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case for a couple of reasons.

The first problem is that TR-069 can often be seen as a solution to problems in the NOC team as well as the call centre. In principle, this isn't a bad idea but when NOC is the one driving the TR-069 implementation, the diagnostics tend to lean more towards the WAN than the LAN. This means support ends up lacking many of the diagnostics it actually needs to troubleshoot and solve issues inside a customer's home.

Additionally, even when home network diagnostics can be gathered through an existing TR-069 system, they're seldom made available in a way that is useful for support agents. Oftentimes, these systems return diagnostics in raw text files or some other confusing format that can essentially only be used by the most technically savvy members of the team and obviously won’t be helpful on support calls.

TL;DR: TR-069 is not always the best diagnostic solution for ISP support teams

Simply put, ISP support teams will benefit the most when a significant portion of callers with home network related issues have standardized diagnostics available.

That means, whatever tool is implemented into the the support team needs to:

  • be easy to rollout quickly (i.e. without lengthy hardware deployments) to reap the benefits of diagnostics ASAP
  • provide standardized diagnostics across the customer base, regardless of the networking equipment used
  • give support agents useful diagnostics on the LAN in a format that doesn't require vast amounts of knowledge or experience with home networking

Unfortunately, TR-069 has been known to fall short in all of these areas.

Here at RouteThis, we’ve worked hard to close the gaps presented by traditional network diagnostic tools like TR-069 and have even gone a step further towards analyzing the data we collect on home networks to help agents identify and fix issues.

So if you’re looking for a network diagnostics system that works on all networking equipment, doesn’t take years to implement, and can be easily updated with the diagnostics your agents actually need to solve issues and close tickets, you should definitely get in touch.

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About Giselle Rochford

Giselle is the marketing and demand gen lead at RouteThis. She enjoys reading, sketching and occasionally eating avocado toast and posting pictures of food on Instagram.