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.
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
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).
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
This weekend, I took a drive out to our old farm. Actually, to tell the truth, I was slipping away to look for Morels and had to pass the farm to get to my favorite hunting spot. My father and I farmed until 2003, when my WISP business was dominating my time and he had reached retirement age. We farmed nearly 2000 acres of Corn, Soybeans and Tomatoes. Our farm had the largest remaining gambrel style barn remaining in the county as well as a new modern pole building and shop that we customized and took great pride in.
I participate in various forums that cover the wireless industry. One of the things I enjoy hearing about is that unlicensed frequencies can’t work in certain applications for various reasons. Too much interference, too expensive, and if it’s possible why anyone else hasn’t done it, are common objections and just get my hackles up. The third one is my personal favorite and the one that really motivates me more than a good Chicago Vienna Hot Dog with a poppy seed bun, a Diet Coke (substitute YooHoo if available), and a Hostess HoHo.
In the last few weeks, I’ve seen bids that range from wireless municipal specifications from 8 years ago to the desire to reach for the outer limits. Both strategies have unrealistic expectations, just from different ends of the equation. Eight-year old municipal specifications assume that delivering 300Kbps is an adequate expectation for anyone in 2011. Of course, if you still use AOL dial-up, then 300Kbps is a magical upgrade. For the rest of us, using 300Kbps is painfully close to watching paint dry for some websites and applications.
Most WISP operators perform additional projects outside the scope of just providing Internet access. The skill sets required to install backhaul systems to residential or business clients can be utilized in other applications. Although I’ve been fortunate enough to see many unique types of wireless applications, some stick out more than others.
That’s not exactly how it’s sung by Frankie in “How you wear your hat,” but if the slipper fits… Public safety is scared to use 2.4GHz. Fears of hackers and the fact that everything on the planet that is WiFi enabled runs in 2.4GHz. And why should they use it when the government has given them their own system in 4.9GHz? The reality check is this: when you share a taxi with someone going in the same direction, you both get to where you are going and you save a little money.