WISPS growing up in the tower industry Part 1

As more and more Wireless ISPs (WISPS) get into licensed microwaves, bigger antennas, and fiber up the tower (FUTT) they are getting into an arena typically reserved just for the Cellular and broadcast folks.  This can result in an overwhelming amount of things to deal with.

If you are renting space on a commercial tower managed by a regional or national company such as American Tower (ATC) you will run into things like application fees, engineering studies, and closeout documents to just name a few. Once you have your notice to proceed (NTP), the real work begins.

During your negotiation phase, and in your contract, you should have a center line on the tower.  This states the center line on the tower where your equipment is mounted.  An example is if your centerline states 200, on most contracts that means you have something like 5 feet above that and 5 feet below that.  Think of it as a window.  You have a window of 195-205′ on the tower for your equipment to fit in.

IMG_9712

Centerline example. Photo courtesy of Michael Pelsor

The equipment you put on the tower was specified in the engineering phase of the paperwork.  Model numbers of mounts, antenna models, and all that are decided before the first piece of equipment is ever put on the tower. This is very important to adhere to because many tower companies will require a closeout procedure.  This normally includes pictures of your equipment and how it’s mounted, pictures of what is called a tape drop, and other things.

IMG_4586

Tape Drop Pic courtesy of Michael Pelsor

The sheer amount of things to think about on a commercial tower with multiple tenants could extend this blog post on for a long time. But, one of the biggest things to consider is when you are installing how your cable runs, antennas, etc. are in relationship to other equipment.  Are your cables somewhere they might be stepped on by someone passing your equipment to get to theirs? Does your equipment cross mounts which may be removed later or modified?

In the second part of this series we will talk about some of the higher-end tools which may save you tons of time, thus paying for themselves rather quickly.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailLinkedIn

Default vs specified config

When setting up a device, especially a network router, you often have the option to leave things “default”. What does this really mean and what effect does it have on your network?

What you are basically saying when you leave something as default is “let the router determine what to do”.

This can be a problem when the default behavior changes. This is most often changed when going from one software version to another. Maybe someone determined that leaving a particular option enabled was no ideal. Maybe it caused issues, or is now being replaced by a different way of doing things.

Sometimes default configs are designed to make the product easier to configure.  This is typically true of many consumer based devices. The company wants you to have a good experience and not have to call them for technical support.

Keep these things in mind when you see a checkbox or something that says “default”.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailLinkedIn

LigoWave APC Button First view

Ligowave has recently launched a small form factor 802.11N radio. This is one of the growing number of devices designed for the SOHO and small and medium enterprise installs. You can read the full data sheet here. https://www.ligowave.com/public/downloads/APC%20button.pdf

IMG_2890

IMG_2891

One of the first things I do with a unit like this is login and look at the existing firmware.  My unit came with Version 5.95 and the latest available was 7.02.  Since this is a new platform for me, I can’t speak to the in the firmware, other than what I saw on the surface.

I noticed some cool things about this unit, which some other vendors are lacking at the moment

Spectrum Analyzer
The spectrum analyzer under tools loaded very quickly.  No complicated Java or slow load times.  The following is a screenshot from it sitting on my desk.

.Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 12.15.49 AM (2)

Site Survery
Just like the spectrum scan the site survey was quick and trouble-free. It picked up everything I expected it to see. It is very handy to just pop into a unit and see what it sees.

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 12.15.32 AM (2)

SNMP and SMTP traps
Something that is very handy for the small office or small deployment was under services…System alerts. You can have the device send an e-mail or SNMP trap based upon some things most folks would really like to know about. For example, if the noise floor gets greater than a certain DB it will let you know.  Pretty cool

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 12.23.21 AM (2)

These have a street price in the $40-50 range. This has just been a quick overlook.  I hope to get into some real world uses of these in the near future for a followup to this.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailLinkedIn

Helpful outages web-site for network admins

http://www.outages.org/

Direct from their web-site.

How to Report
By sending a tweet with any of the following hashtag/s:
#outages
#outage
#cablecut
#fibercut
#undersea

when reporting for a service outage. Once verified we will plot it on tracker.

For e.g. #outage #loc (street, city – location name) #start (time), followed by #back (time)#planned or #unplanned (if its a planned or unexpected outage).

Download the iOS/iPhone/iPad App “Ushahidi” and add http://tracker.outages.org/ to “Settings” to start reporting.
Download the Android App “Ushahidi” and add http://tracker.outages.org/ to “Settings” to start reporting.
By sending an email:
outages@outages.org
Click to View Reports

Send comments/feedback/feature requests tovirendra[dot]rode[at]outages.org

Follow us on Twitter @outagesdotorg

Help spread the word!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailLinkedIn

Calea and the ISP

The Communications and Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) passed in 1994 is a piece of legislation every U.S. ISP should know about and be in compliance with.  If for the simple fact the government can levy heavy fines if you aren’t compliant.

For those of you wanting some background please follow these links:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communications_Assistance_for_Law_Enforcement_Act

https://www.fcc.gov/public-safety-and-homeland-security/policy-and-licensing-division/general/communications-assistance

First of all CALEA isn’t simply sticking wireshark onto your network and sending a packet dump to a law enforcement agency. It is much more complicated than that. You have several things which the CALEA standard addresses.

1.The ability to send multiple streams, in real time, to different law enforcement agencies.
2.The ability to not interrupt the connection to a person of interest.  In other words you don’t want to interrupt their connection to insert a piece of hardware.
3.The ability to provide just the information on the warrant.  Too much information can actually violate the court order.
4.There is a difference between a typical “request for information” warrant and a CALEA request.  These are not the same.  CALEA almost always comes from a federal agency. They are expecting you to be compliant with CALEA.

Now, here is where things get a little subjective.  The FBI has https://askcalea.fbi.gov/ which is linked from the above fcc.gov web-site.  The askcalea web-site has not been updated since 2011.  The service provider login and service provider registration simply does not work. The information about CALEA is pretty outdated.

So what does this mean for you as a small ISP? Stay tuned for more information.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailLinkedIn

Mikrotik wAP first looks

The routerboard at the USA Mikrotik User Meeting (MUM) this year was the wAP. For the official specifications on this little gem visit here.  Some highlights of this AP.
-802.11 b/g/n
-Weatherproof
-Secure mounting
-802.3at POE
-11-57volt
IMG_2872
As you can see a great deal of thought was given into the included parts with this unit.  Mount, screws, poe, and even a thick paper template for drilling the wall and ceiling mount.

IMG_2874

Whomever is in charge of package and documentation design at Mikrotik gets high marks in my book for this setup. Included is a little instruction sheet which has topics for first use, powering, booting, connecting are all included on the first page in a concise manner.  On the second page instructions on netinstall, bootloader, and even enabling CAPs mode are all explained.

IMG_2873

At a street price of $45 for this model these have many uses.  Outbuildings, work shops, patios, and many other places where an AP needs a little protection from the elements, are all good deployment choices.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailLinkedIn