The problem with broadband projects in general

Before Covid I tried to attend as many meetings community leaders and towns had about bringing broadband to their communities. This is what you are supposed to in order to let the leaders know you, or in my case, my clients are there, right? Sometimes I would attend to provide my input as part of giving back to a community.

I have found some similarities in these meetings and workshops. Let’s go over them. If you are a community leader don’t let yourself fall into some of these.

The High-Level view
The high-level view starts out with noble intentions. The leaders want to get broadband to underserved areas. They have not bothered to dig deeper into seeing what is actually in the areas they want to cover. These folks may have called the ISP they have or someone their family has. they don’t actually know which providers service what areas. In their defense it’s not their job to. What they do with these meetings determines if progress is made or not. I have been in meetings where there have been four providers that service the area in question. The leaders say they must do more studies to see who is in the area. You literally have four sitting at your table who can tell you what they service. Take their information, take their maps and progress.

Bedazzled by the incumbent
Typically this person has XYZ Internet at their home and they love it. They love it so much they want it everywhere. This is great, but there are reasons that XYZ Internet is not everywhere. Otherwise, you would not be doing these meetings. Some of this is due to lack of money. Either XYZ Internet does not have enough or the return just is not there. This leader is one of the most hampering of all. I have been in many meetings where the small local company is putting their own money into investing in the community and this type of leader overlooks the small company. They even go as far to suggest the local company help XYZ become bigger in their own service area.

These leaders often invite their beau to these meetings to give their take on broadband in the area. Sometimes these companies are honest and straightforward. Sometimes they paint the picture they are the only ones who can solve the broadband issue.

The “let’s do a study” crowd
Studies are nice. They give you nice graphs, charts, and tons of fluff information about an area. It makes for good reading for those who like to learn about facts. These folks are probably the ones who know the stats of many sports figures, who lived in the prominent houses in the lcoal towns and other facts. They are willing to spend twenty thousand dollars on a piece of paper to get this information. In many instances, sitting down with the right group of people could tell you 90% of the information you need.

Unrealistic goals
Let’s face it, not everyone knows everything about the topic they are trying to address. Being able to provide gigabit to every home is a nice goal, but is hard to achieve. Not everyone needs or wants gigabit. In my county and the surrounding area, there are towns of only three or four houses. Unless lots of government money is involved fiber will not be coming to them anytime soon.

The academic
These are usually the most frustrating for the existing ISP. Terms like focus groups and thirty thousand foot view are thrown around. They are usually applying for some grants or RPF. They already have their goal and possibly the outcome in mind. They are not there to solve issues but to get the “bigger picture”. They may only know broadband from buzzwords. 5G and internet of everything are thrown around alot.

What folks do you see at these meetings? Let me know as we are working on a funny video.

10 Gig SpeedTest server Intel Nuc

Recently a client testing their 5G solution came to me asking for a solution to testing speed from their CBRS/5G/802.11ax clients.  One of the requirements was it had to support greater than 1 gig speedtests as close to the devices as possible. This particular client has a small cell device which has room for a small form factor PC. The challenge was finding a small PC that could handle a 10 gig port.

In steps my buddy John from Columbus.  John is up on hardware more than I am.  After some talks, we settled on the following two pieces of hardware

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PQTG131/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_c_api_i_C3P4EbG40PESH

https://www.amazon.com/Sonnet-Technologies-Thunderbolt-10GBASE-T-SOLO10G-TB3/dp/B07BZRK8R8/

Intel Nuc, Sonnet 10 Gig adaptor, Mikrotik HexS

Once we assembled this we need a router for the Internet and DHCP. We chose a RouterBoard hexS
https://www.ispsupplies.com/MikroTik-RouterBOARD-RB760iGS

As a not both of these will run off DC power.  The Nuc comes with a 19Volt power supply so if you are running Pure DC you may want to drop from, say a 24volt battery bank to 19 volt with a Meanwell converter.

The Software
Proxmox was installed on the Nuc.  Nothing crazy about this. Just make sure the thunderbolt adaptor is plugged in during install.  For our purposes, we are just using the 10 gig adaptor.  Proxmox recognizes the adaptor without a hiccup.

In some earlier blog posts I wrote about the self-hosted speedtests.
https://blog.j2sw.com/networking/self-hosted-speed-test/
https://blog.j2sw.com/xisp/self-hosted-speedtest/ (Patreon Subscription Required)

I installed the self-hosted speedtest under a Centos Minimal Install. Everything was put on a 172.16.x.x network.  This was done in order to prevent any conflicts with various types of Internet the Mikrotik may be plugged into.  By default, port 1 is set up to be a DHCP client.  In our setup, the Internet is the bottleneck, but we are not testing the Internet.  We are testing clients on the 5g/CBRS/802.11ax network. Our 10 gig port on the nuc will be plugged into a 10 gig switch at the small cell, and not into our routerboard.  The routerboard is just there to hand out DHCP and allow Internet access, if available.

 

 

 

 

Cloudflare Etherum Gateway

https://blog.cloudflare.com/cloudflare-ethereum-gateway/
You may have heard of Ethereum as a cryptocurrency. What you may not know is that Ethereum is so much more. Ethereum is a distributed virtual computing network that stores and enforces smart contracts.

Interested in more about Etherum and smart contracts? https://www.coindesk.com/information/ethereum-smart-contracts-work

and

https://searchcompliance.techtarget.com/definition/smart-contract

Mikrotik LoRaWAN products

Taken directly from Mikrotik newsletter 89.
https://download2.mikrotik.com/news/news_89.pdf

R11e-LoRa8EU – a new LoRaWAN  concentrator Gateway card in miniPCIe form factor

based on Semtech SX1301 chipset. It enables LoRaWAN connectivity for any MikroTik product that has miniPCIe slot with connected USB lines.

With the support of 8 different channels in 868EU band, Listen Before Talk (LBT) and Spectral scan features this product will astound you with its enticing price point – under $100. Max output TX power – 16 dBm, max sensitivity level on SF12 rate – 134 dBm

wAP LoRa8 kit – an out-of-the-box solution to use LoRaWAN gateway. This kit contains

wAP 2nD device with 2.4 GHz WLAN interface and Ethernet port that could be used as a backend connection and pre-installed UDP packet forwarder to any public or private LoRa servers. You can attach an external antenna (see below) or use internal 2.5 dBi antenna. Once again the price is a real bargain – under $200!

LoRa Antenna kit with a 6.5 dBi Omni antenna for 824 – 960 MHz, 1 m long SMA cable and mechanical holder for quick and easy mast attachment – when you need that extra network coverage.

These products are ready to work with ‘The Things Network’ – the famous open-source infrastructure that provides free LoRaWAN network coverage and has tons of apps for your needs. The Things Network helps you get started with the Internet of things in a day. Cattle tracking, smart irrigation and thermostats, smart metering and so on – the possibilities are endless. The setup is so simple, anyone can get started really quickly. With an SLA backed service by ‘The Things Industries’, it has never been easier to deploy secure and scalable LoRaWAN solutions. There is a global community of developers, businesses and enthusiasts – you will never be alone with your questions and ideas regarding LoRaWAN network. No need to reinvent the wheel – join The Things Network to save time and energy with smart solutions!

Small cells and network as a Service (NaaS)

In this article, I am going to talk about how WISPs can monetize their networks in the ever-growing hype of 5G. Whether you think 5G is hype, or overblown from a technical aspect, you need to embrace the 5G wave of hype and use it to your advantage.

Many WISPs should be familiar with 5G in terms of how small cells work from a technical, physical, and a philosophical viewpoint. This knowledge is important, as outlined in Small Cells and hybrid networks for WISPs: Part 1, as well as making your network attractive for Network as a Service (NaaS).

Small cell digital signage and cameras

Wireless Service providers, especially ones with active community ties, have a unique advantage over the larger providers such as Verizon and AT&T when it comes to small cells.  Many of the local WISPs have the contacts to be able to put up small cell infrastructure in their coverage areas.   The provider does not have to own any licensed cellular spectrum to do this.  Many WISPs can make a business model with unlicensed (2.4 and 5GHZ) and CBRS band. The big benefit of this is if these providers build this infrastructure in mind of selling space to the larger carriers, then it can be a huge benefit.  The local ISP is now selling its infrastructure. Many ISPs would rather have one client paying $1000 a month and 10 clients paying $100 a month.  With this, you can do both.

How do you do this? In an upcoming podcast, I am going to talk with Tolly Marcus from Airpacket about how WISPs can “up their game” to design and engineer their networks to be in-line with what the larger carriers’ design.  This mindset will focus on the thinking processes  ISPs need to start implementing into their own networks.

One of the things the local provider can start looking at is small cell poles. Companies like Wytec International are implementing the next-generation of smart poles.  These poles tie cellular, CBRS, wifi, iOT, and other technologies in an unobtrusive design. The photo below is from this month’s edition of AGL Magazine.

Inside of a next-generation smart pole

By looking at this pole we can see the many compartments inside. Cities like this design as it covers ugly wires and just kind of blends in.  So, what does this have to do with the WISP? If a WISP were to design and engineer these to take into account the designs the carriers mentioned earlier require then the network can be sold as a service to them. Many factors and things need to be met, but it is doable. Again, the WISP does not have to operate in the Cellular bands in order to put up the pole infrastructure.

WISP puts up these throughout the town or city they can leave options for a carrier or multiple carriers to add their equipment into existing infrastructure.  The local ISP is selling capacity on a purpose-built network they have control over instead of the large carrier rolling over them.  The addition of small cells also opens up additional opportunities for the local ISP which otherwise might go to a 5G carrier.

Some of the opportunities to the local ISP can be
•Cellular Small Cells
•Digital Signage and displays
•Public Wi-Fi
•Survelliance
•IoT networks
•Meter Reading
•Informational Kiosks
These services are just a few of the ones an ISP with local connections can provide many services needed while selling to carriers who are already deploying small cells. 
In closing, if you are an ISP, especially a WISP use the 5G hype to further your business instead of trying to fight it. Adapt what you need to your business model to help provide the next generation of services.  Don’t get hung up on semantics.

Flash Briefing: April 29. Spectrum, IoT, WPA compromises

Spectrum use Article
https://www.networkworld.com/article/3343040/wireless-spectrum-shortage-not-so-fast.html
The wireless industry has always had to deal with regular (and alarming) pronouncements that we’re somehow running out of radio spectrum. We’re not. But the misconception regardless gives many IT and network managers pause. 

It does not mention WiSPs, but is a perspective nonetheless.

IoT Links
How many of you are focusing on Internet of Everything (IoT)? I have posted some links to how healthcare and others are using IoT to further their business.  As a service provider, you should be coming up with an IoT strategy.

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/331792
https://www.worldbuild365.com/blog/internet-of-things-iot-the-future-of-smart-roads-skRTWO

WPA Compromises
https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/04/11/bughunters_punch_holes_in_wpa3_wifi_security/

Microsoft and IPV6

I have written about IPV6 lately and Microsoft has published a post where they are moving their internal network to an IPV6 only network.

Microsoft works toward IPv6-only single stack network

TeamArin at CanWISP
https://teamarin.net/2019/04/02/how-arin-can-help-wireless-internet-service-providers-wisps/

 

Kubernetes and IPV6

https://thenewstack.io/kubernetes-warms-up-to-ipv6/

Carriers and telcos are also interested in adopting Kubernetes — AT&T is using Kubernetes as the basis of the Airship project it will use to run 5G and public safety network services — but they’ve already deployed significant amounts of IPv6, especially for mobile networks. Around 90 percent of T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless traffic already goes over IPv6; for Comcast and AT&T it’s about 70 percent.