Lab Network

I am starting an ongoing series involving a semi-static set of devices.  These will involve different tutorials on things such as OSPF, cambium configuration, vlans, and other topics.  Below is the general topology I will use for this lab network.  As things progress I will be able to swap different manufacturers and device models into this scenario without changing the overall topology.  We may add a device or two here and there, but overall this basic setup will remain the same.  This will allow you to see how different things are configured in the same environment without changing the overall scheme too much.

We will start with very basic steps.  How to login to the router, how to set an IP address, then we will move to setting up a wireless bridge between the two routers.  Once we have that done we will move onto setting up OSPF to enable dynamic routing.  After that the topics are open.  I have things like BGP planned, and some other things. If there is anything you would like to see please let me know.

Vendor Spotlight: Subcarrier Communications

Over the past several WISPA shows I have had the opportunity to chat and get to know CEO John Paleski from Subcarrier Communications ( John is very in-tune with how the WISP industry functions in terms of tower needs.  Many of the big tower companies tack on so many fees with their towers it makes leasing a tower out of reach for many. Add on the processes in place can be a deterrent to getting equipment in place.

Subcarrier has addressed many of these hurdles for the WISP industry.  Reasonable rates for tower rent are always a concern, but if the business model is there for the WISP, they are not the primary concern many times.  Not only has subcarrier realized many WISPs are utilizing smaller equipment, but things like huge application fees are a negative for the smaller WISP. Subcarrier knows what is on their towers. Such a simple thing means a rapid and smooth deployment for the WISP.  After several conversations with JOHN, it is apparent he knows just about every tower in his inventory.  He can tell you if they will support what you are wanting to hang on that tower without running a $2000 engineering study right off the bat.  On the flip side, he isn’t compromising safety or integrity of the tower.  Many towers, such as old AT&T long lines towers were built to such high specifications if you just apply a little common sense and some quick figuring you know the typical WISP deployment isn’t going to add any significant amount of loading on the tower.

I believe that John thinks the same way many of us in this industry do.  An empty tower is not making anybody any money.  If it makes sense for both parties then a deal can be made.  Too many of the larger tower companies only look at deals that make sense for them.

I would encourage any of you looking for towerspace to check out the sites Subcarrier has.  Check out their interactive Google Search to see if they have some towers you could use. Tell them Justin sent you over.


I will be attending WISPAMERICA next week.

I will be a panelist on the Transitioning from a bridged to a routed network on Monday from 2:15-3:15
I will be moderating the Layering Redundancy across the network on Monday from 3:45-4:45
On Thursday I will be a panelist on Advanced BGP from 2:15-3:15

You can find me hanging around the Cambium Networks booth as a Certified Cambium Consultant offering free consultation for folks looking to integrate cambium into their network.  If you don’t see me just ask one of the Cambium team members to point me out.

I will also be happy to talk about peering with MidWest-IX and general ISP consulting as well.

Tower Suppliers

One of the more common questions we get asked about is towers, tower mounts, and where to get them. If you are looking to mount to Rohn towers check out our friends over at ISP supplies. They have many of the mounts you would need for Rohn 25-65 and some of the other Rohn series towers.  They will also be an exhibitor at the Upcoming WISPAMERICA in booth 700.

If you have larger towers or larger requirements check out companies such as SitePro1 or Tessco.  Both of these companies carrier mounts designed for monopoles and larger carrier style towers.

Form 477 and Mapping

Recently the FCC has put out a press release about updating the national broadband map. If you are a WISP and wondering why you aren’t on there ask your self this question: Have you been filing your form 477? If not, then that is why.  If you are an ISP you are required to file form 477.

So, where do you begin? The above link will get you started.  If you are confused by census tracts, blocks, 15 digit codes for, and the sheer amount of formatting you need to know you have come to the right place. Also, for you facebook users I will share a link to the WISPAMERICA 2018 session in Birmingham about what forms to fill out.

Option number one is your WISP billing platform may already support doing something with form 477.  Many of the billing platforms geared toward the WISP industry already support form 477 exporting.  Check with your vendor or have a conversation with one at an event such as the upcoming WISPAMERICA.

Second is an online service such as  While many folks know towercoverage for their RF propagation maps, they can also turn data you can use for form 477. Here are some searches from the wiki to get you started on their 477 support.  If you are going to WispAmerica check them out in booth 600.

Lastly, but not least, we have firms such as Not only can they help you generate maps and data, but they can help you turn your data into marketing as well.   They are also able to make sure you are filing your paperwork properly and in the correct format. In my local area, I see companies that do not have a coverage listed on the national broadband map.  I can only assume this is an honest mistake due to an error in a census block mistake or improper coding.

If you don’t file your Form 477, not only are you doing yourself an injustice but not letting the government know you are there, but you are skirting the law as well.  If the government does not know you are providing broadband to an area, they may let your competitor overbuild on taxpayer money.  You are missing out on opportunities as well as potential fines.

My Home Lab/Testing ground

A few days ago, my buddy, Greg Sowell posted his Mobile Home Lab. I figured I would show off the rack in my home office.

This is a mixture of gear that powers the basic network for the network in my home and for testing, blog posts, support, and videos\. Each floor of our 3 story home currently has a Unifi Access point on it powered by a toughswitch POE.  My top level, which is where my office is has a unifi pro that does both 2.4 and 5GHZ.  The other levels just do 2.4ghz.  This will change once I get a POE switch that does 48volt to power the UNIFI pro.  I have stuck with UNIFI because of the bar in our house.  Any self-respecting geek needs a guest wifi network.  WPA keys are too hard to dish out for those late arriving guests after some rounds of crown and coke.  So a Cloudkey makes guest access an easy venture.

As stated before the UNIFIs are powered by a Toughswitch, and the PRO has a 48VOLT POE and is linked into a port on the tough switch.  This switch is then uplinked into one of the gig links of the active 2950 switch.  Various other devices, some not plugged in at the moment due to need to get to a cubby hole for a roof project, are plugged into the 100 meg ports on this 2950.  Things such as the DVR for the security system, network printers, ethernet to my desk for testing, network drives, etc.  The other gig port is uplinked to our internet router.

Our internet is handled by a workhorse Mikrotik 493AH. This has a Comcast cable and a local WISP connection, which is a backup.  From this router, I am initiating several VPN, EOIP, and other tunnels to various clients and remote networks.  If you notice, this router also has a little rubber duck antenna.  Inside is a r52 card that is usually disabled by default.  This is a backup network for testing if I suspect an issue on the internal wireless network. I can log in, enable the card, and associate to the SSID and see if things are okay, at least as okay for 802.11b/g speeds.


Most everything else is for Cisco certification testing and keeping up on those certs as well as labbing up scenarios. As you guys will hear on our latest podcast, GNS3 and packet tracer are great, but sometimes you can’t beat actual hardware.

I too have a console server for turning my devices on and off. I do not have fancy remote access turned on, but I can remote to 6 devices at a time without getting up and moving the 4 feet to move a cable.  Welcome to the future!

Run down of some equipment
Cisco 2950 (one production and one lab)
2x Cisco 3750
Cisco 3640
Cisco 3560-X
Cisco 1841
Various Mikrotik routers
Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Pro
Ubiquiti EdgeSwitch 16
(The infinity is going into production soon at a data center)

The Cisco 2541 at the top is a shelf for the monitor for the DVR.  Make a great shelf!  In the future, I hope to add a Juniper router and some more gear.  As always, if you are a manufacturer I would be glad to review some of your gear and even do some configuration videos on it.

On a side notes, you don’t see much wireless gear.  That is a separate spot in my office.

Everything you wanted to know about Root Name Servers

One of the foundations of the Internet is DNS.  We have talked about DNS alot.

There have been TBW Podcasts about DNS

So are you ready to get your geek on?
Let’s start with who operates the root name Servers. A quick visit to:

NetNod will explain the rest