A small milestone, issue #10. The weather outside is quite frightening. The wind chill is -37 here in Indiana. I want to extend a Happy Holidays greeting to everyone. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah Perfect time to catch up on documentation and the newsletter. Submit any news here.
•BEAD and Wireless Delivery. Today, leading organizations representing the wireless industry sent letters to broadband offices in all US states and territories, urging them to allow for maximum flexibility in choosing the right mix of broadband technologies to meet their policy goals with Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) funds.
Welcome to issue #9 of Packets Down Range. I am a little behind because a deer decided to jump in front of my car on a recent trip to Texas. There wasn’t much damage, but almost all the airbags were deployed, which caused the car to be a total loss. As a result, I am behind and need those sponsorships. :-). Submit any news here.
•Lumen looks to add 6 million miles of new fiber by 2026. Lumen’s work will focus on its backbone network rather than its metro or residential assets. CTO Andrew Dugan told Fierce its newly announced target is part of a nationwide upgrade project Lumen has been chipping away at for the past five years or so.
•Wireless Myth Busters Episode 2. The myth we’re busting in this episode: “With federal funding abound, why not all fiber, all the time” Come along to Scotts Bluff, Nebraska where we join Vistabeam to see how they’re leveraging Cambium Networks product line to wirelessly deliver connnectivity to their customers across 40,000 square miles through out Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska.
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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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.
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.