OpenGear Resilience gateway for ISPs

Some quick notes and screenshots from the OpenGear Resilience Gateway https://opengear.com/products/acm7000-resilience-gateway . The model I am working with is the ACM7004-2-L. It has 4 serial Cisco Straight pinout, Dual 1 GbE Ethernet, Global 4G LTE-A Pro cellular, 2 DIO, and 2 output ports.

So what does this thing do and what can it do for you as an ISP? At the basic level, this is a console server with multi wan capability. What this means is when the crap hits the fan you should be able to login to this device across the internet and see what your switches and routers are doing across a console connection. In most ISP scenarios they are bringing in their internet connections from another provider and landing it on a switch or a router. As most followers of this blog know I am a fan of switch-centric based setups. this means your transport and internet connections are landed on a switch or switches and then a router on a stick attaches to these switches.

So why would you need this setup? Not every POP site justifies, or has available multiple transport or internet connections. Imagine you have a switch plugged in and that switch doesn’t come back from a reboot or power event? Without a console server such as this you are driving to the site and plugging in a console cable to see what is going on. With this you can access the device over on of the multiple wan connections, including a cellular connection to gain console access.

Even in redundant setups, a console server can give you insight into what is going on with a router or switch. You can access the console port without ever having to drive. Is the switch booting? Is it getting stuck on a bootloader somewhere? This is all information you can gain from the console port.

Some Screenshots of the Gui. One of the things I like is the dashboard. I am a sucker for dashboards. One reason I am is on any new piece of gear I am reviewing or learning a well thought out dashboard will give me much of the information I need to know. Are my interfaces up? Have VPN connections established? These can help me learn as well as save time troubleshooting

Some interesting notes about the features of this device. It does have environmental status indicators. If you have a device that you can plug into one of the console ports either via USB or rj45 console you can use the gateway to monitor this. Couple this with the Nagios and/or SNMP integration you now have a temperature, door alarm, or other sensors for your remote sites.

View of the back of the unit.

Other notable features include Digital Input and output, remote syslog monitoring, IPSec and OpenVPN, and many other features. If you are deploying lots of these Opengear has a Lighthouse Server for centralized management.

One of the best things I like about this is you are able to access the console server via the web interface. And the best thing? No Java required. This saves from remembering complicated port numbers, for when you ssh and want to access a specific device.

So how am I using this in a network? this device is going at a data center. The client has two cisco switches and two mikrotik routers which will plug into this. It will have an in-band wan connection on a management vlan directly into both routers. If both of these routers are down the gateway has a cellular backup with a IPSEC VPN to a router in a remote data center. You could always switch this up by connecting your second ethernet port into a secondary ISP in the data center. Some networks have a management router where management devices such as this plug into. I have done this with Mikrotik 4011s and it works just fine. I can plug an in-band connection into the mikrotik and a secondary ISP such as a cable or other ISP in the data center.

The cost may discourage some folks. On Amazon, these are just under a thousand dollars. If you need more console ports the price goes up from there. To them, I say what are the costs of downtime and your time. For this client, the closest tech is an hour away. I am two hours away. If a simple firmware or bootloader command fixes a switch not booting and turns 2 hours of minimum downtime into 5 minutes that is a huge win.

Look for a video overview soon.

Product of the week: LTE signal booster

Do you have poor cellular signal in your home or office? Maybe a mobile job site? For you tower technicians having one of these in your job trailer might make life simpler.

https://www.ispsupplies.com/SureCall-SC-PolyEZ-DT-72-Kit

The revolutionary SureCall EZ 4G Cell Phone Signal Booster sets up in minutes, delivering unrivaled signal boosting power indoors for all cellular devices. The EZ 4G features cutting-edge technology and an elegant plug-and-play design, boosting voice, text and 4G LTE data signal for all North American carriers- including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, without the need to drill holes or mount an antenna outside.

Dropped calls and slow 4G LTE data speeds are history, as the EZ 4G provides clear and consistent coverage for all cellular devices in 1 – 2 rooms, up to 2,000 sq ft. End the frustration of weak and unreliable indoor cell phone signal with the SureCall EZ 4G.

Kit includes:1

  • EZ 4G Booster with built-in antenna (includes removable stand and adhesive tape for easy window mounting).
  • Desktop Antenna rebroadcasts the boosted cellular signal to multiple mobile devices.
  • Coax Cable 50 ft of RG-6 connects the EZ 4G Booster and the Desktop Antenna.

Uplink Frequency Range (MHz): 698-716 / 776-787 / 824-849 / 1850-1915 / 1710-1755 ( G-Block Included )

Downlink Frequency Range (MHz): 728-746 / 746-757 / 869-894 / 1930-1995 / 2110-2155 ( G-Block Included )

Supported Standards: CDMA, WCDMA, GSM, EDGE, HSPA+, EVDO, LTE and all cellular standards

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.

Non Podcast Flash briefing: streaming,5g, OSHA

Due to the 2019 Indiana ISP meeting, I have not had a chance to record a flash briefing this week.  Here are some things you need to know.

OSHA Willful fines violations
Lee over at TowerOneInc states OSHA has upped the fines on willful violations.

Streaming news
Chicago starts collecting Netflix taxes
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7037573/Chicago-city-collect-Netflix-tax-online-services.html

Comcast future streaming after Hulu
https://www.lightreading.com/video/ott/comcast-still-has-big-streaming-dreams-/d/d-id/751505?

Telecom News
Frontier CEO says they are on the rebound
https://www.fiercetelecom.com/telecom/frontier-s-ceo-says-company-rebound-thanks-to-its-fiber-assets-better-customer-care

Sprint fires a volley at AT&T over 5G Evolution
https://www.telecomstechnews.com/news/2019/mar/12/sprint-att-nyt-ad-fake-5g-marketing/