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.

Ninjas and network admins

From my early youth, Ninjas have been a fascinating subject for me. They are what attracted me to my main hobby of collecting G.I. Joes. Movies like American Ninja, Ninja Magazine, and the 80’s Ninja craze fueled this passion. Several of the stories in the comics centered around Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes, who were from the same Ninja clan.

As life progressed, I started studying the Art of Ninjitsu at age 16. Stephen Hayes’s writings on Togakure-ryū Ninjutsu inspired me to seek out training in this ancient art form. The things I learned from this directly translate into my job as a Network Engineer/Architect/Shaman. This tends to be a theme with any martial art. I just gravitated toward Ninjutsu.

Ninjutsu does not teach you pre-rehearsed Kata like many other martial arts. You learn concepts and then apply them to different scenarios. You learn to use what you know in a given situation instead of rehearsing moves. This isn’t to say arts with Katas are inferior, just a different mindset. I can directly apply this to my everyday work of trying not to get caught in too linear thinking.

This is where one would expect to say they learned patience from a martial art. I didn’t necessarily learn patience as much as I learned discipline. Discipline is knowing when to be calm and collected and when to pull out your swords and chop some stuff up. Patience is a part of the overall plan. A good foundation of patience, discipline, and drive are essential lessons to learn.

Network Engineers have different visibility in different types of organizations. In an Enterprise, I.T. is often bolted on. This has been changing some in the past few years, but it is not the focus of the business. The network is much more at the forefront in the Service Provider space. This is where the catch-22 happens for some I.T. Folks. The non-technical folks don’t understand the backend work making things run smoothly. An out-of-sight-out-of-mind kinda thing. When things break, the opposite happens. Management wonders what they have been doing. A good team of technical and non-technical keep the visibility “visible”. What goes on to make the network function is not some black hole full of jargon.

An outstanding network engineer is like a Ninja of Feudal Japan. The Ninja is behind the scenes manipulating things without really being seen. A smooth engineer “dons” his Ninja garb and gets into the real nuts and bolts. At the same time, this engineer can switch outfits, walk with the non-technical folks, and fit in. This is where some folks fail. To succeed, the Network person needs to explain to non-technical folks what is happening. It’s not because they need to understand the inner workings, but they need to understand the effort which goes into planning, implementing, and maintaining a modern computer network,