How to create a viewshed in Cambium Linkplanner 5.3.0

Viewsheds are a feature present in the Online Map (using V5.3.0 or later), which indicate all the locations in the area surrounding a chosen place that are considered to be Line-of-Sight for a given tower height and subscriber height.

https://community.cambiumnetworks.com/t5/LINKPlanner/How-to-Create-a-Viewshed/m-p/116297

Horvath Communications offers free tower co-lo

In an effort to alleviate the ramifications of COVID-19, Horvath Towers V will be offering free tower co-location to rural broadband service providers for a period of six months. 

“With so many families working and learning from home,” company President Jackie Horvath told Inside Towers, “the demand for wireless internet access has sky-rocketed. As such, we would like to partner with rural internet service providers to allow co-location on our tower assets on a temporary basis.”

Applications will be accepted between now and May 1. All inquiries are to be sent to ehorvath@horvathcommunications.com. As part of this program, the broadband provider will be responsible for the cost of installation and the equipment. The installation team must provide proper insurance before climbing the tower. 

https://www.horvathcommunications.com/ has a map with a site list

Philosophies as a consultant Vendors, distributors

Over the years my views and philosophies on being a consultant have changed and are constantly evolving.  There are certain things that consultants can incorporate into their businesses in order to maintain a high level of service to clients.

Being Neutral
One of the things I have tried to do is be neutral when it comes to vendors and technology. While this is an admirable goal to have, you will find yourself gravitating toward technology you and your clients find useful and proven. It’s okay to be a certified consultant for a specific vendor. This brings up a whole new set of issues I will talk about later. There are two keys to take away from this. The first is to understand the underlying technology as a whole. If you think a particular product is superior enough for you to become certified in it, know why. Know how it is better than the competitors and where it lacks compared to the competitors.

The second key is to not be influenced by becoming a reseller/distributor for particular products. If you want to become a distributor, then focus on that. If you offer consulting services, become an integrator for that product. This way, you are not influenced by the latest promotion for a particular product and try to make it fit for a customer when something else might be better.

Vendor Expertise
As a consultant, you will probably find yourself working with specific products more than others. This is natural. I have found myself working with Cambium ePMP products more often than some others. I believe in the product, so I recommend it to my customers when it fits their situation. However, becoming an expert on a product line has pitfalls.

The first pitfall is you are an expert not paid by the vendor. If you are doing an excellent job on Social media and SEO your name should be popping up in google searches for that product. For example, if you do a search for “Cambium Consultant,” the first page that pops up is a page with my info on it. In a way, you are representing the brand without knowing it. This can lead to you answering questions about a product without any direct compensation for your time. I have always strived to answer questions on topics I am an expert on. There is a fine line between answering questions to a client who has not paid you money and one who has. Every potential contact is a potential client. You have to decide how to handle that grey area. This is an area I struggle with regularly. I am a Cambium ePMP expert and get many questions on this and that from folks who are not clients. I try and answer as many as I can, but at the end of the day, the paying clients do take priority.

Distributors and ordering
I mentioned earlier about me personally, not wanting to be a distributor or reseller. I don’t want to have to meet quotas and absolute minimums to keep stock of products. Some companies are better at this than I ever could be. Having a good relationship with a few good distributors is a good idea. Over the years, I have developed good relationships with several of these WISP distributors. There are some I shy away from due to they have competing services. There are a few vendors and distributors I have referred folks to, and the next thing I know they are offering them consulting services or saying, “I can fix that real quick for you”. They may not even realize they are hurting my business. These are distributors and vendors I personally stop referring business to. If it’s the right product, I will still include them in options for clients, but I make sure I keep on top of the relationship between myself, the vendor, and the client.

There are distributors out there who do very well offering consulting services. The question to ask is are they selling you products because the product makes them money or is it the right product for you? There is much room for either way.

Just some random 3am thoughts

Podcast: John, Ivan and I talk WISP finances

I sit down with John Scrivner from LiveOak Bank and Ivan Crowe from Ritalia funding and discuss topics related to WISP funding. We talk about leasing, lending and the pitfalls WISPs run into when it comes to financing.

John Scrivner
john.scrivner@liveoak.bank
Office 910-550-1407 X1345
Cell  618-237-2387

Ivan Crowe
Icrowe@rtflease.com
818-921-3624

#packetsdownrange #wisp #funding #leasing

Sponsored Post: Atheral voice solutions

Founded by two telecommunications veterans in 2018, Atheral is building customer-centric white- label and wholesale cloud solutions for Internet Service Providers that decrease end-user churn and increase profitability while being geo-redundant, highly available, and scalable. We focus on redefining technology in the cloud to minimize capital expenses while providing a predictable operating cost.

Atheral’s core white-label Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) platform is simple, flexible, and feature- rich with unique US-based support resources. Atheral is the only white-label VoIP wholesaler that focuses on WISPs while providing a customized branded experience for their end-users. Pricing, just like our platform, is feature-rich and straightforward:

  • Unlimited local and long-distance calling in the United States, Mexico, and Canada
  • One telephone number per user and e911 registration
  • Branded customer-facing documentation
  • 140+ Softswitch features
  • Our companion Android and IOS softphone app

Why should a WISP care about VoIP?

  • Government Funded Competition – Offering VoIP with your awesome broadband experience protects your ISP from being overbuilt by government-funded competitors or enables you to apply for government funding to expand your coverage area.
  • Customer Stickiness – Customers that purchase value-added services are more likely to stay customers, especially when they are satisfied with those services.
  • High Margin – While phone service in the home may be declining, VoIP is growing by leaps and bounds in the business community with the VoIP industry seeing ~21% annual growth through 2025. All those added users equal high margin for you – the average VoIP reseller sees margins in the 40%-65% range.

Visit https://atheral.com or e-mail info@atheral.com

VXLAN and why you should care as a service provider

As some of you may have heard Mikrotik has added in some VXLAN support in the latest RouterOS7 beta.  What is VXLAN and how would service providers use it? Let’s start out with some broad information about VXLAN

Where does TRILL and VXLAN fit in to your network strategy?

The always interesting RFC read
https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc7348

This document describes Virtual eXtensible Local Area Network
   (VXLAN), which is used to address the need for overlay networks
   within virtualized data centers accommodating multiple tenants.  The
   scheme and the related protocols can be used in networks for cloud
   service providers and enterprise data centers

Boil it down for me. What is vxlan?
In short, VXLAN allows you to create a layer2 network on top of a layer3 network. It allows you to bind separate layer2 domains and make them look like one. If you are thinking this looks like a GRE tunnel, you are correct except the layer2 domains are still separate with tunnels. VXLAN is mainly touted as a way to interconnect data centers. If you are having to use spanning-tree then VLXLAN is an answer.

Okay, but why not use tunnels or MPLS?
VXLAN allows you to accomplish what GRE does without having to change the network design. By using VXLAN you are also able to have standalone layer2 domains that talk to each other. With the tunnel approach, you have to do a lot of manual configuration.

Is this just a data center thing?
VXLAN was designed to solve many of the edge computing and hyper-scale computing issues. Imagine having compute nodes in different parts of a data center or even in different data centers.  You want all of those nodes on the same VLAN.  With GRE you could extend that VLAN, but with VXLAN you can have two standalone layer2 VLANs that are merged together. VXLAN also solves the 4096 VLAN issue.  This is important in hyper-scale cloud computing.

VXLAN benefits in a nutshell

  • increases layer2 segments to 16 million
  • Centralize control
  • Standards-based
  • Scalable

VXLAN downsides in a nutshell

  • Multicast must be available
  • more overhead to layer2 packet
  • no built-in encryption
  • Slow adoption of ipv6 support by open source

What about the service provider? How can I use this?
In a service-provider network, you have things like broadcast issues. Basically, bridging is bad. Your layer2 networks need to be contained. Imagine you are a service provider who is providing LTE services. You may have an LTE VLAN on your network.  Historically you would have to extend your VLAN across the network in order to do management and access your LTE core. Now you have this large broadcast domain across your entire network.  Or worse yet, you have tunnels to other cities or locations you don’t have physically connected to your network.  Now you have tunnels a part of your LTE VLAN.  MTU issues and other things are now a part of your life.

With VXLAN each LTE node can have its own layer2 VLAN but still talk to the others. This prevents the broadcast storms which can occur.

Another use for VXLAN is a way to allow managed service providers to deploy large scale networks over the 4000 limits of VLANs.  You could literally deploy thousands of layer2 segments to tenants

Why I should or should not care about VXLAN as a service provider?
If you just have a couple of layer2 networks to extend across your network VXLAN is not for you. However, VXLAN does allow for multipath routing and other protocols to be extended to remote networks.

VXLAN adds 50+ bytes of overhead to the layer2 frame. In many service provider networks, this is not an issue due to MTU being raised for MPLS, etc.   IP multicast must be extended across the entire network. Mac addresses are used in creating a distribution network across all of the routed layer2 domains.

Large service providers have started looking at segment routing to solve many of the issues I talk about. This causing them to gravitate toward EVPN. EVPN allows for BGP for the control plane and MPLS for the data plane. More on this coming soon.

In closing, VXLAN is an ultra-cool technology and has use cases for service providers.  Other methods also exist to solve these issues in the service provider world. For those of you looking to learn all you can, I will be posting a list of links for my Patreon folks.

Underground boxes for wireless deployments

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The importance of phone numbers in a WISP

One of the things I see startup wisps do wrong is their use of phone numbers.  This is one of those details that is often overlooked but is critical. It’s critical not only for tracking but also for the sanity of everyone involved.  Let’s identify where many WISPs go wrong.

The typical startup wisp is a type A go-getter. This is what Entrepreneurs are by default.  Once they have a plan they jump head over heels in. Many may start with a simple phone number, but when they call a customer if they are on their way to do an install or something they end up using their phone number.  The problem is customers keep this cell phone.  If the office is closed they start texting or calling any number they have.  Some customers will be respectful of boundaries, but many will not.  If they are getting packet loss at 3 am they are calling and texting.  This problem compounds as you grow and you have multiple installers involved. You want customer issues tracked in some sort of ticket/CRM system. You also don’t want your employees ahev to answer customer texts or calls after hours if they aren’t being paid.  It’s one of the quickest ways for employees to get burnt out or say the incorrect things.

So how do you solve this? The simple buzzword answer is unified communications.  One of the easiest and cheapest is Google Voice. With Google Voice and others, you have a primary number. This is the number you give out to clients. They call this and it rings another phone or phones.  This can be an extension on the VOIP system it is a part of, another number, and/or cell phones.  Depending on the level of sophistication it can ring all the programmed numbers at once, or ring one, and move on to the next one. If no one answers it drops the caller into voice mail. With Google voice, the programmed numbers are all rang at once.

The inbound ringing is pretty standard.  The “trick” for the WISP is the outgoing calling. You want to be able to call a customer and have it come up as the main number’s caller ID, not your cell phone. Most PBX systems can be set up to do this with the extensions attached to them.  Cell phone calls are a little more complicated.  The way Google Voice solves this is through the use of forwarding numbers, You bring up the app, enter a number and it actually calls a different number.  Behind the scenes, it is using this forwarding number to “spoof” your number to the person you are calling.   Your phone is not calling the other party directly. Your phone calls this forwarding number behind the scenes and works it all out on the backend.

Other vendors have Apps which do similar functions. Asterisk has their DISA function.  Once you have these functions setup it boils down to training and processes.  Your installers need to remember to use the app or the function when calling customers.  As the company grows, a way to help this situation is for employees to not use personal cell phones.  If a company provides a cell phone the employee can customize voicemail, or even forward no answers to the help desk should a customer get the cell phone.

Hope this helps one of the glaring issues a startup faces.

Cambium ePMP 3000 features

An older post but still relative. Figured I would re-post this.

Cambium and CTIconnecxt put on a webinar about ePMP 3000 today.  This should be available online at one point.  Look for it in the Cambium forums.

Some notes I took
-ePMP 3000 offers Simultaneous MIMO downlink transmission
-You will be able to use the beamsteering antenna with the 3000.  Cambium is working on the software to make this work.
-3000 has a dedicated receiver chip.  This allows you to run the spectrum analyzer in realtime. Also has “edetect on steroids” which shows more information than the current edetect.
-Sector is a 4X4 90 degree sector with beamforming. Achieves and extra 3db in the downlink.

Beamforming vs Beamsteering
Beamsteering is for dealing with interference.
Beamforming is for downlink gain.

-Cambium mentioned the concept of Azimuth Delta.  This is groups of SMs in terms of how the AP talks to groups.  The gave an example on a google earth plot.  In a nutshell, when you have gain in one direction it takes advantage of the null in different directions. More to this, but that is for another post.

-“Sounding” -Sends a special packet and gets feedback from the subscriber. Determines how the phase shift works and other things.

-Elevated clients beta is coming to make the elevated clients work with the 3000.

I hope distributors work out a smaller cold shrink for the sma connectors on the ePMP Ap radios.  Weatherproofing these properly will be an issue due to the close proximity of the connectors.  I have not seen the connectors on a sector to see how those will be.  This is where folks could take a page from the coldshring that comes with the Baicells gear or the cables with the integrated boot some distributors sell.