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
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.

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ISP News for the week ending April29th, 2022

Cloudflare blocks a 15rps DDOs Attack.
https://blog.cloudflare.com/15m-rps-ddos-attack/

Good news regarding the chip shortage.
“America’s ambitions to rebuild its semiconductor manufacturing industry took a step forward on Monday with the opening of a specialty chip fabrication plant in central New York.”
https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Tech/Semiconductors/U.S.-opens-first-major-silicon-carbide-chip-plant-in-New-York

The United States joins 55 nations to set Internet rules
https://www.reuters.com/technology/us-joins-55-nations-set-new-global-rules-internet-2022-04-28/

Will a re-brand of Frontier help its image?
https://www.telecompetitor.com/frontier-rebrand-aims-to-be-the-unmistakable-icon-of-gigabit-america/

New on Californias Net Neutrality Law
California’s net neutrality law is similar to the federal rules repealed under former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. California prohibits ISPs from blocking or throttling lawful traffic. It also prohibits requiring fees from websites or online services to deliver or prioritize their traffic to consumers, bans paid data cap exemptions (so-called “zero-rating”), and says that ISPs may not attempt to evade net neutrality protections by slowing down traffic at network interconnection points.
https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2022/04/isps-cant-find-any-judges-who-will-block-california-net-neutrality-law/

Mikrotik releases 7.3Beta37
*) bonding – fixed LACP flapping for RB5009 and CCR2004-16G-2S+ devices;
*) bridge – fixed packet marking for IP/IPv6 firewall;
*) dot1x – improved server stability when using re-authentication;
*) fetch – improved full disk detection;
*) gps – fixed minor value unit typo;
*) l3hw – improved offloading for directly connected hosts on CRS305, CRS326-24G-2S+, CRS328, CRS318, CRS310;
*) led – fixed QSFP+, QSFP28 activity LEDs when using 40Gbps modules (introduced in v7.3beta33);
*) lte – disabled wait for LTE auto attach;
*) mpls – fixed MPLS MTU and path MTU selection;
*) ovpn – fixed hardware offloading support on CHR;
*) ovpn – improved Windows client disconnect procedure in UDP mode;
*) ovpn – moved authentication failure messages to “info” logging level;
*) ppp – added warning when using prefix length other than /64 for router advertisement;
*) ppp – fixed “remote-ipv6-prefix” parameter unsetting;
*) ppp – fixed issue with multiple active sessions when “only-one” is enabled;
*) routerboot – properly reset system configuration when protected bootloader is enabled and reset button used;
*) rsvp-te – improved stability when “Resv” received for non-existing session;
*) sfp – improved QSFP/SFP interface initialization for 98DXxxxx switches;
*) switch – fixed missing stats from traffic-monitor for 98DXxxxx and 98PX1012 switches;
*) system – fixed RouterOS bootup when wifiwave2 package is installed (introduced in v7.3beta34);
*) system – fixed rare partial loss of RouterOS configuration after package upgrade/downgrade/install/uninstall;
*) user-manager – improved stability when received EAP attribute with non-existing state attribute;
*) vpls – fixed “pw-l2mtu” parameter usage;

Cambium QOE DPI

As an ISP you probably have an inkling of where your customers are pulling data from. With the new Cambium QOE software, you can know for sure.

What do you notice about this?
-Netflix
-Roku
-Youtube
-Amazon Video
-Hulu
All streaming services. Your customers are consuming more and more video content.

ISP consultants.How to hire and engage Part 1

I have been a consultant for the Internet Service Provider (ISP) space for the better part of my working life. I have dealt with the technical side of the field and some of the business and back end. I have been an owner/operator/stakeholder in several ISPs since 2000. Some of these ventures have been self-funded, while partners funded others. This history has given me a unique perspective many others have not been able to experience.

Most of the ISP operators I have worked with boil down two one of three types

The Businessperson. These operators usually have little technical knowledge but see a business need and require technical and operational personnel to help them. An outside technical consultant helps to supplement any technical expertise.

The Techie. These are folks who know the technical side of operations. They may not necessarily have Service Provider experience. Still, they can configure gear, understand spec sheets, and follow the lingo on message boards and groups.

The Operator. They may need a consultant for a few reasons. The first is that they are racing and need outside talent on demand. Second, they may need someone to supplement higher-end tasks such as BGP, CBRS implementations, or LTE help. This person is a professional who can pick up on both the business and technical sides.

Each of the above types needs different things from a consultant and should approach a consultant differently. One of the best things to do before hiring a consultant is put a list together of what you need help with. This need can be a long wishlist or a specific task. Either way, having a defined Scope of Work (SOW) is beneficial.

From my experience, the more focused the task, the easier it is for me to get up to speed. This ease is especially true of an established network. It is much easier for me to give a time estimate when someone says, “OSPF is broken between router ten and router eleven. Can you look at that?” than it is for someone to say, “My OSPF is broken. can you look at it”. As a general topic of investigation, I will try and get more specific, so I am not spending hours looking at unaffected network segments.

One of the things I think any owner should do with a potential client is to have a general call before any work starts. If you are looking for someone to fix a specific issue, this is probably a quick call. I have jumped into a client’s screen share before within a few minutes of them calling and worked through an issue without much prep work. Suppose the operator is looking to have a consultant work on several projects and work on a medium to long-term basis. In that case, the conversation needs to be longer.

Suppose you are an operator looking to hire a consultant to be with you for a while. In that case, the initial conversation I mentioned above is more like a two-way interview process. This type of conversation tends to happen with new or startup WISPs a lot. They need direction and someone to answer many questions that are not answered outside of an ISP. In anĀ earlier article, I go over the differences between an ISP network and an Enterprise network.

In Part two we will look at more things to ask and look for from the operator’s perspective. In Part Three we will look at some of the rationale and options from the consultant’s perspective.

Cambium QOE traffic screenshots

Recently I have been using the QoE solution from Cambium Networks on some networks. This software allows for the prioritization and shaping of traffic on a service provider’s network. We will go into the workings of this in some later posts. Here are some screenshots.

Yes, it is IPv6 aware

What services should your ISP be providing?

As Internet Service has evolved so have the service offerings of Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Not too long ago the majority of ISPs were providing USENET feeds. If you remember those you have been at this for a long time.

For those of you just getting started or wanting to do an evaluation on your network here are some thoughts on services you should or should not be providing.

Let’s dive into the short list

DNS – Must Have
You should be running your own Doman Name Service (DNS) resolvers. There are many benefits to you and your customers.

e-mail – Don’t worry about offering
The advent of free or low-cost e-mail services has seen a rapid decline in the need for ISPs to their customers. For ISPs who offer e-mail, it is a service that generates many trouble tickets. From SPAM complaints all the way down to them not receiving emails. Leave offering email to customers to the GMAIL folks of the world.

Web-Site Hosting – Optional
If you are a Managed Service provider (MSP) then web-hosting can be a lucrative business. With web-site hosting also comes e-mail hosting.

VOIP
Voice Over IP (VOIP) is a hot topic these days. Many grants mention the ability to provide voice services as a requirement. Outsource this to providers such as Atheral.

Thats it! There are many other services you could extend to customers. There are also services which are not public facing you might want to run. Radius is on example of services you would run internally. As a service provider you should be spending as much effort on delivering solid access to your customers. Other services can be found by the end users themselves from dedicated services.