Automatic Broadband Service Tester

Wayne Kernochan

Updated · Aug 29, 2001

Teradyne, Inc.‘s
Broadband Test Division announced the availability of NetFlare, the company’s
new Internet test system designed to reduce costs for ISPs and broadband call
centers focused on consumer and small business. NetFlare accomplishes this by
identifying the owner of connectivity and performance problems in the end-to-end
network (meaning from the PC to enterprise web site).

NetFlare should allow service providers to quickly determine whether the problem
is in the access network, ISP network, Internet backbone, or destination website.
Based on the company’s trial results from a live operation in a DSL call center,
Netflare reduced call handling time at Tier 1 and Tier 2 by up to 65 percent over current
methods and improves overall consumer satisfaction with broadband service.

NetFlare employs an approach known as active IP testing that focuses on a
protocol stack to isolate connectivity, services, and performance related calls
to the responsible jurisdiction from the consumer PC to the destination. NetFlare
performs tests at the IP layer, whether the broadband service is over copper,
cable, wireless, or satellite. When a consumer reports a problem, NetFlare performs
a two minute test while the consumer is on the phone with the call center receptionist.
The service guides both the consumer and operator through an automated test
and analysis sequence utilizing standard web-based interfaces.

According to the company, NetFlare’s accuracy, value, and throughput were
proven in a network wide trial with TELUS
of Canada. The trial was completed in May of 2001. Telus placed an order in
June for full deployment and is now using NetFlare in Tier 1 and 2 of their
DSL call center operations. In the trial, operators at both in-house and out-sourced
call centers used NetFlare to interactively resolve consumer trouble reports.
Teradyne says that after an automated test of less than two minutes, call center
technicians were able to determine whether a call should be closed out, escalated,
or routed directly to repair. Problems were resolved with the customer on the
line: increasing one-touches and reducing escalations to the back-office.

Teradyne claims that Netflare information helps service providers increase
the productivity and quality standards of their call centers by:

1) Reducing performance call handling time at Tier 1
and Tier 2:
Within two minutes, the call center technician is presented
with the owner of the reported problem and a recommended action statement to
either close the call or route to repair. By rapidly identifying performance
problems in the network, call center technicians do not have to lead the subscriber
in performing complicated technical tests to isolate problems. Trial results
showed that NetFlare reduced average call handling time in Tier 1 and Tier 2
by 65 percent on performance and connectivity related calls.

2) Increasing ‘one-touches’ by reducing trouble escalations
to the back-office:
Call center representatives are given access and
visibie information allowing them to make decisions at the point of reception.
This reduces the overall technical skill-level required to support broadband
services. Handoffs and escalations to Tier 2 may be reduced by 30 percent.

NetFlare consists of a NetFlare Resource Broker (NRB), and a number of strategically
located Internet Diagnostic Units (IDU). The NRB handles secure user authentication,
automatic routing of tests to IDUs, test session results archiving, and centralized
administration. The IDU, located at a handoff point or jurisdiction boundary
executes patented test techniques via a testing focused TCP/IP protocol stack
to identify the source of the problem.

The analysis software presents the data collected in a manner that is easy
to understand for the call center technician and the consumer at home.

NetFlare automatically measures throughput, latency, verifies availability
and performance of ISP services such as DNS and e-mail, and measures the path
to the consumer’s desired Internet destination.

NetFlare allows the consumer and operator to quickly see the performance they
are receiving specifically from the service provider’s network contrasted to
the end-to-end performance. When there is a problem, the jurisdiction is clearly
pointed out with a recommended next step. NetFlare is a self-contained turnkey
system that can be implemented network wide in a matter of weeks. No client
software is required for the Subscriber or Care Technician, eliminating the
distribution headaches for software upgrades.

“As broadband providers expand their service footprints to meet mounting customer
demand, ISPs will seek out solutions that maximize their service delivery propositions,”
says Erik Keith of Current Analysis. “The NetFlare solution, which is easy to
use and simple to implement in the network, enables service providers to streamline
their broadband customer service guarantees through accurate trouble isolation.”

“NetFlare will not only allow us to reduce call handling time and network operations
center costs, but we can also improve the quality of service by providing the
customer with reliable information quickly,” says Winnie Lai-Fong, Manager of
Service Architecture, TELUS. “NetFlare clearly shows the location and provides
the relevant customer information for Internet performance problems, saving
time for TELUS and our customers.”

Joe Notaro, NetFlare Account Manager, added, “one of the major benefits seen
by the network call center operators was the ability of NetFlare to simultaneously
display the test results to the consumer and operator. This greatly reduced
the amount of work required to isolate the network trouble by making the explanation
and discussions of next steps much more efficient.”

Availability and pricing
NetFlare is available today.

The pricing is based on the capabilities customized to the particular needs
of an ISP.

Reprinted from ISP Planet

Wayne Kernochan
Wayne Kernochan

Wayne Kernochan has been an IT industry analyst and auther for over 15 years. He has been focusing on the most important information-related technologies as well as ways to measure their effectiveness over that period. He also has extensive research on the SMB, Big Data, BI, databases, development tools and data virtualization solutions. Wayne is a regular speaker at webinars and is a writer for many publications.