Something new this way cometh

I am excited to give you a preview of a new project I have been working on. To those of you who subscribe to this blog know, I put out a semi-regular post on ISP topics. I am working on a newsletter to cover the following topics

•Data Center topics
•Peering and Transit topics
•Internet Provider Topics
•Related topics

Look for an official announcement and sign-up link shortly. I am looking for sponsors to help get this really rolling. If you want to submit news on the above topics, you can send it to j2sw@mtin.net

I am working on an official name for this newsletter. There will be a new category and tag associated with this. Look for the main announcement soon. Working on the backend technical items of this.

The power of turning it around

One of the things we, as humans, deal with is the knee-jerk reaction to find why not in things.

Take the extra moment to think of a solution to the problem instead o shutting it down. Many times, this is because we are not thinking big enough. A great example of this is in the Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) industry. Many technologies for delivering Internet access in the WISP industry require line of sight. This means trees are typically the reason a customer can’t get service. The average WISP simply says, “There is no way we can get you service,” and leaves it at that. The successful wisp says, “You would need a 100-foot tower over here to get you service.”

In the last sentence, the successful WISP has accomplished two things. The first is they have given the customer an option. Too many times, we assume such options are beyond the reach of the customer. Stop assuming that. Let the customer decide if it is or not. Secondly, it has left the customer with a positive spin on an unfortunate situation. Subconsciously, the customer has a positive view because you have given them a solution. This solution may not be within their reach, but you have given the customer the power to decide if it is or not. I have been surprised several times when a customer has had that 100-foot tower built.

We all hear the cliches.
“develop a can-do attitude.”
“positive attitudes make for positive results.”
“positivity makes for productivity.”

As much as I hate cliches, your approach to problems can be the deciding factor in the outcome. I find myself having to step back at times because I am jumping to the conclusion that it can’t be done or only be done a certain way.

in short, identify the problem but don’t dwell on it. Find the solution r multiple solutions. It may be out of your budget, out of reach due to other resources, or may not be feasible. However, you found solutions instead of giving up.

Don’t forget tower training and equipment

As you enter the winter in most of the United States, set aside some time to review your equipment status for your tower climbers. Are their harnesses in need of replacement due to age? What times were you always short of on tower sites this year? Carabiners? Bolt bags? Rope?

Contact Lee at TowerOneInc.com to get your orders in. Supply chain issues are always a concern with anything these days, so get your orders in early

The ever-evolving service provider

Some of you may have noticed a subtle difference in the title. In many of my previous posts and articles, wISP was written as WISP. Note the capitalization of W. This represents a shift from Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) becoming a more hybrid approach to service delivery. What does this mean? Are Wireless providers going away? Read on, dear reader.

Mainly due to government definitions of what broadband is, speeds being delivered by service providers are being increased. In 2015 the FCC defined broadband as a download of 25 megs and an upload of 3 megs. Several wireless equipment manufacturers were able to come out with new point-to-multipoint radios in unlicensed and 3.65 frequencies to meet this demand.

Fast forward to the “Covid years.” Demand for broadband increased. Working from home has become more mainstream than it ever has. This is the time many WISPs shined. These operators could service up new areas and increase bandwidth in existing coverage areas quickly. As with many governmental dealings,

What does this mean for the wISP? wISPs will be transforming into an overall service provider to satisfy several needs and regulations. Delivery speed will be the number one focus on all new build-outs. Many politicians and government regulators are already suggesting a 100 meg service tier.

So how are wISPs evolving? Let’s jump into it.

Automation saves money. Saving money allows for more devliery devices, whether they be Access Points, OLTs, or switches). Automation makes customer interaction faster and more efficient. From signups to support ques, automation is becoming the key to optimizing these interactions. Companies like SBR Consulting LLC provide automation. Other companies like RemoteWinbox can automate managing your large Mikrotik network.

Add on services and vertical markets.
Most government grants require you to provide Voice as part of your offerings. Why not let companies like Atheral take this load off you. You can then concentrate on acquiring customers. Video services like Realchoice can make sense if your network supports their unique data demands.

Network Quality of Service
Modern access customers are demanding. Technology is always evolving, and so are data flows. Preseem and Cambium QOE are two companies that can apply policies to flows and data endpoints as well as other traffic manipulation. This allows you to optimize your network. Latency sensitive items such as VOIP can benefit from a QOS/QOE soluiion.

High-Speed multipoint wireless
Fiber takes time to build and is costly. Wireless makes sense in so many places. 802.11-based systems are still a viable option for rural and less dense areas. However, MU-MIMO systems from the likes of Tarana and Cambium Medusa are the next generation of fixed wireless systems delivering higher bandwidth. LTE players such as Nokia have solutions for the growing wISP.

Hybrid Networks
As customer demands increase, there have to be bigger pipes pushing bandwidth to the towers and aggregation points. Licensed links are pushing more and more bandwidth. Fiber-fed towers are also becoming a thing. This means the wISP is possibly building their own fiber infrastructure to support the gigabit and muti-gigabit clusters being installed on towers. One natural progression is , as the provider passes homes, it makes sense to use strands to provide some sort of Fiber To The Home (FTTH). This is an easier cost to absorb as it can be both revenue generating and business supporting at the same time.

Peering and Interconneciton
Internet customers tend to consume much of the same data repeatedly. Pulling this from geographically close locations speeds up the customer experience while reducing latency. Internet Exchange Points (IXPSs) bring more resiliency to a fragile Internet. Companies like FD-IX and Ohio-IX are independent exchange points.

these are just a few things the xISP (wISP, fISP, etc.) can look into to migrate their networks to the next level. Many of them mentioned are at WISPAPALOOZA 2022 in Las Vegas this week.

A consultant’s perspective

Throughout this series, I have included some of my own perspectives where relevant. This post is some of the things I look at from my perspective. Some things I have gotten right over the years and some things I have screwed up.

When I evaluate a client, I look at a few things. Do they have a good idea of what they expect from a consultant? Do they realize I am not their employee and have other obligations?

With every long-term engagement I have with clients, there are always chunks of time that are needed. This might be a new tower build or a new upstream provider being added. There is a flurry of work-related, and then might be an extended break after that project is done. One of the jobs I, as a consultant, strive to do is make the next job easier on the client. This might be a checklist or documentation on what they can do without engaging me. This saves their time with me for items I really am needed for. This may seem counter-intuitive to billable hours. However, it goes back to the quality vs. quantity I said in one of the earlier parts. My goal as a consultant is to bill at the highest hourly rate possible while still adding value to my client. I would rather set up my client to do 10 hours of work themselves and come to me for 5 hours at a higher rate. This solves the problem of me overselling my time, thus causing issues.

Where do some consultants go wrong?
Speaking of time, this is one area consultants go wrong. I figured I had forty hours to sell each week when I did full-time consulting. If I am feeling Industrious or have a big project, I can go into overtime. Maybe some weeks, that time stretches out to fifty or even sixty hours of overtime. Some weeks, due to travel and such, I have worked a seventy-hour week. This is not sustainable long term. When people need help and have money in front of them, it’s easy to oversell your time. That quick trip out of state to help a client may turn ugly when another client has a major outage, and you are an hour from a good internet connection.

What are some of the things I have done as a consultant to improve my business?
When I was doing full-time consulting, the best thing I ever did was document all communication through a ticketing and project system. If a client calls up and we speak for 15 minutes, I will open a ticket and do a summary of what we talked about. Even if it is an issue, we solve it on the phone. This helps me to keep accountable to time per client.

Even though I am not a full-time consultant these days, I still do consulting work but am more selective on the jobs and clients I take on.. I still approach them with a scope of work before work is done. This prevents scope creep and statement bloat.

What are things an operator can do to better utilize a consultant?
Document as much of your network as you can into a single document. Have something which can be easily looked over with notes on what you know. For security reasons, you are probably not going to put passwords into a word document, but have a reference. Sometimes it is as simple as “Refer to Last Pass (or whatever password manager software you use) for the password.”

Also, have a punch list together of things you want help with. This does not have to be a fully vetted list. By having this list, you can open a dialogue and talk through things. you may find several items on your list that could be accomplished with one work item.

Goggle Stadia Shutting down

From a Google Blog Post
We’re grateful to the dedicated Stadia players that have been with us from the start. We will be refunding all Stadia hardware purchases made through the Google Store, and all game and add-on content purchases made through the Stadia store. Players will continue to have access to their games library and play through January 18, 2023 so they can complete final play sessions. We expect to have the majority of refunds completed by mid-January, 2023. We have more details for players on this process on our Help Center.

Overwatch2 first match impressions

From the gaming files.
The folks over at gamesradar.com have posted an article on Overwatch2. Check it out
Overwatch 2 is speedier, deadlier, and more punishing than its predecessor, and that’s never been more clear than in these last few days when I have had the fleeting luxury of swapping back and forth between the two. Overwatch 1 will shut down on October 3, and no matter how you feel about that there’s no denying that Overwatch 2 is blisteringly, sometimes overwhelmingly fast.

The Brothers WISP #169