Syndicate content

Blogs

Tales from the Towers – Chapter 48 - Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, err Cargo Vans

I like cars. I’ve been a car guy since Hot Wheels in the 60s. I’ve been through the Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am phase and although I’m in the Mustang phase now with enough horsepower to turn earth into my personal dynamometer, I find that my interest is turning to gas mileage, vehicle longevity, and reducing the cost of operation of my vehicles. I know this isn’t technically a WISP type article but it’s a fact of life with a WISP from a financial sense.

Near-Far and Why “Good Enough” Isn’t

by Scott Armstrong, Swift Fox Systems

When installing subscribers on your network, signal strength is a very important factor in the performance of the client’s Internet and the performance of the tower as a whole.  The signal level of one client can greatly impact other clients’ connection speed.

Tales from the Towers - Chapter 47 - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Many WISPs do one-off wireless projects. As consultants, we get referrals for many projects from a variety of sources. I have partnered or been lead on many projects, some of which I’ve written about here, others that have been profiled in magazine articles, and some of which I’d rather put in the category of “what was I thinking”. These projects are a great way to add to the bottom line, build reputation and experience, work with new products, and get away from users who think their sole and final purpose in life is to send me speedtest screen shots 6 times a day.

Tales from the Towers - Chapter 46 - 900MHz and SCADA: The FCC Double Standards

The 900MHz band used to be viable for wireless ISPs (WISPs). Then the FCC started relaxing the rules and giving it away to companies that should be using different frequencies, like Progeny. To add insult to injury, the FCC then gave Progeny an unfair advantage of higher power. But as sleazy as the Progeny deal was that Julian pushed out the door for his buddies or bosses, I’m not sure which yet, it doesn’t even come close to the number of illegally powered SCADA devices that almost every single municipality has in place.

Tales from the Towers - Chapter 45 - I'll Give You Two 5s for 10

What if there were a new 500MHz wide band of spectrum barely being used that wasn’t on anyone’s radar? What if that band already had equipment sold by one of the best known manufacturers in the WISP industry? What if that band could use 802.11 chipsets, meaning that you don’t have to get a second mortgage on your house to put up an access point (AP) and a few clients? What if cows could fly? Then I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience the Wendy’s Triple*, but that’s not important (Airplane is one of my favorite movies).

Tales from the Towers - Chapter 44 - Why the Connect America Fund Should be Abolished

I’ve mentioned many times that I believe our current government is simply clueless.  Unfortunately, I’ve come to realize that it’s simply far worse than that. If you combine corruption, selfishness, ignorance, arrogance, cronyism, stupidity, and incompetence in one package, that would pretty much describe the bloated, bureaucratic mess that is the US Federal Government. I’m not saying that there aren’t good people in the government, but as a whole, it’s simply pathetic.

Tales from the Towers - Chapter 42 - Frustration, Thy Name is Backhaul Tech Support

I should have called this article, “How I spent my Christmas vacation developing an ulcer” (from the abominable state of backhaul tech support). I know, I know, WISPs never really get a vacation.  I’m so paranoid about being out of touch that I took a satellite phone on a cruise and left the number with my Vienna Hot Dog vendor in case he was worried when I didn’t show up every Tuesday. However, recently I’ve put 24 hours on my cell phone over 4 days, had to drive 700 miles, and waste two 16-hour days on-site while my family was enjoying Italian dinners, Christmas co

Tales from the Towers - Chapter 41 - If I Had a Hammer

Every time a new product comes out, there is a lot of discussion about pros and cons, and how it works within existing deployments. The primary manufacturers have been following the same formulas for years. Cambium Networks (a spin-off from Motorola Canopy) targets high-density, long-range tower deployments with its tower-centric hardware product line. Ubiquiti’s product line is pretty much designed for everything else that is deployed by wireless ISPs (WISPs).

Tales from the Towers - Chapter 40 - It's Harder to Fire a Friend than a Vendor

At WISPAPALOOZA this year, I was asked to be one of the speakers at the User WISP presentation (which had more than 500 attendees).  Although we go to WISPA to learn from others, which I did, I also learned some things about my operations that I hadn’t thought about before. Putting together a PowerPoint presentation about your company is a great way to step outside and look back in.

Tales from the Towers - Chapter 39 - WISPA Exhaustion

If you haven’t been to WISPAPALOOZA before, be prepared to find out it’s nothing like your father’s WISPAPALOOZA.  This event was so full of activities, speakers, and new information that I think WISPA kept Vegas awake, not the other way around.  If you think Las Vegas is a vacation when WISPA is there, think again.  For all of us who have been to conventions, this is more like hanging around with 1000 friends who want to help you make your business better.  Even though I have to admit to watching a couple of playoff games with the Giants embarrassing the Tigers (maybe O

Tales from the Towers - Chapter 38 - Pick a Tool, Any Tool - What Every Wireless ISP Should Know

Wireless ISPs (WISPS) have more tools available today to improve the performance of wireless networks. There is an optimized product for every single model that is currently deployed, and there are a lot of different models. From grounded RJ-45 connectors to antennas and every component in between, it’s impossible to keep up with everything.  Ask five WISPs what cables they use and you will get five different answers. MikroTik turned routers into white boxes.

Tales from the Towers - Chapter 37 - Talk is Cheap, but Ebay is Cheaper

Anybody starting a business knows that funding is the biggest problem.  Angel investment and venture capital for first round funding are about as scarce as shade in Phoenix.  That is of course, unless your Uncle RUSs or Aunt CAFee open up the government (meaning poor taxpayers) purse strings (lookup OpenRange, Main Street Broadband) to people who haven’t quite mastered the intricate and mystical techniques of the Excel spreadsheet with the common sense hyperlink.  Apparently passing a Civil Service Exam, getting elected President, or getting a political appointment by a Commu

Tales from the Towers - Chapter 36 - A Take on Ubiquiti's Woes

I’ve rewritten this article several times in the last few weeks, due to the sinking stock price of Ubiquiti (Nasdaq: UBNT). Since the first part of this article was based on where I thought the company is going and Ubiquiti stock has been sinking faster than Eddie Murphy’s box office appeal from Pluto Nash, I was hoping to see things settle down first. Right now it’s almost impossible to make any predictions, but I’m going to anyway because I have as many opinions as Obama has excuses.

Tales from the Towers - Chapter 35 - Ubiquiti versus Canopy/Cambium for WISPs

Before you start reading this article, let me warn you first that it is the longest one I’ve written and the only one in which the manufacturers I talk about see the text before publication.

Tales from the Towers - Chapter 34 - Raising Money for a Wireless ISP Business

I’ve seen business plans for WISPs from small to large, and from municipal mesh to tower-centric models. In every one, I try to look at design methodologies that would make the deployment technically unique. The goal is that the effort pays off in reduced capital expenditures, greater competitive advantage, and hopefully a better financial business model. One of the problems with being an engineer though is that we rarely assume we are wrong, unless someone proves that we are.

Sponsors