Looking into to 2018

As the snow is melting off during the 50 degree days I have a moment to pause for some of the things coming in 2018.

One of the things we will be working on is some tweaks to our pricing and support structure.  Over the past year, we have been moving to a deeper relationship with our clients.  This helps me provide better support as well add stability to income.  MTIN will be rolling into a more personalized service for clients in the upcoming months.  This will mean more one-on-one attention to clients. With this, we will still be doing “walk-in clients” but only as time allows.   Customers with service contracts and retainer balances will get priority.

Secondly, partnerships with other companies will become a way we will be able to provide customers with a great experience.

 

We look forward to this new year!
Justin

MTIN is now a FLexOptic Reseller

MTIN typically is not a reseller for many product lines, for several reasons.  We like to be vendor agnostic and not chasing sales commissions on products, and we are not in the business of stocking product.

Having said this, we now have a reseller relationship with flexoptic.net.  They have optics you can code for a huge variety of manufacturers.  WISP clients will be intersted to know they support the following vendors:
-Brocade
-Cisco
-Ceragon
-Mikrotik
-Netgear
-Netonix
-Ubiquiti
and a whole bunch more. There are over 150 vendors supported.

The optics are coded with a product called Flexbox. The flexbox has several features to it such as coding, wavelength tuning of DWDM, distance analyzer, power measurement, and diagnostics.

FLEXBOX series - Configure Universal Transceivers | CSFP, SFP, SFP+, XFP, QSFP+, QSFP28, SFP28, CFP, CFP2, CFP4

We are working on some reviews, how-tos and other tutorials for these products. At the very least we are recommending everyone have a few optics of the form factors you use for compatibility troubleshooting.  If you have a device that you wonder if it is recognizing your optics correctly you can pull out this kit, code an optic for your device, and go on with troubleshooting.   Very handy for vendor optic issues.

If this is something you are interested in send us an e-mail for a quote on a starter kit and look for more information coming soon.

Client subnet in DNS requests

Some Light Reading:
https://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-vandergaast-edns-client-subnet-00

Many Authoritative nameservers today return different replies based
   on the perceived topological location of the user.  These servers use
   the IP address of the incoming query to identify that location.
   Since most queries come from intermediate recursive resolvers, the
   source address is that of the recursive rather than of the query
   originator.

   Traditionally and probably still in the majority of instances,
   recursive resolvers are reasonably close in the topological sense to
   the stub resolvers or forwarders that are the source of queries.  For
   these resolvers, using their own IP address is sufficient for
   authority servers that tailor responses based upon location of the
   querier.

   Increasingly though a class of remote recursive servers has arisen
   that serves query sources without regard to topology.  The motivation
   for a query source to use a remote recursive server varies but is
   usually because of some enhanced experience, such as greater cache
   security or applying policies regarding where users may connect.
   (Although political censorship usually comes to mind here, the same
   actions may be used by a parent when setting controls on where a
   minor may connect.)  When using a remote recursive server, there can
   no longer be any assumption of close proximity between the originator
   and the recursive, leading to less than optimal replies from the
   authority servers.

   A similar situation exists within some ISPs where the recursive
   servers are topologically distant from some edges of the ISP network,
   resulting in less than optimal replies from the authority servers.

   This draft defines an EDNS0 option to convey network information that
   is relevant to the message but not otherwise included in the
   datagram.  This will provide the mechanism to carry sufficient
   network information about the originator for the authority server to
   tailor responses.  It also provides for the authority server to
   indicate the scope of network addresses that the tailored answer is
   intended.  This EDNS0 option is intended for those recursive and
   authority servers that would benefit from the extension and not for
   general purpose deployment.  It is completely optional and can safely
   be ignored by servers that choose not to implement it or enable it.

   This draft also includes guidelines on how to best cache those
   results and provides recommendations on when this protocol extension
   should be used.

For those of you running BIND here is some practical information
https://ftp.isc.org/isc/dnssec-guide/html/dnssec-guide.html#whats-edns0-all-about

UBNT Air Cube first impressions

I have been meaning to start this review for several weeks.  Due to the holidays and sickness that has not happened until now.  Recently Ubiquiti Networks released the airCubeAC. I won’t bore you with all the stats, just some of the highlights.  For the complete list go here…

-AC radio containing 5ghz and 2.4 Radios (AC Model)
-4 Gigabit ethernet ports
-Supports POE in and Out

One of the first things you notice about the modern UBNT products like this is the nice retail looking package.  This could be on the shelf of Best Buy, or on the shelf of any computer shop. The packaging is modern and eye-catching.

After unboxing we find a very minimal packaging.

All that is contained in the packaging is the airCube itself, quick start guide, and the power cord. One of the first things I noticed as I went to plug this in was the length of the power cord.  Too many companies give you a short power cord you are always fighting against.  This cord has to be 7-8 feet long. In addition, the power plug is a compact size to fit into most surge protectors with ease.  It’s the little design features like this which can really make a product shine.

While waiting for it to boot a quick tour around the outside reveals the four gigabit ethernet ports, one of them being the WAN port.

The quickstart guide was very helpful, except for the terminology used for the UMOBILE app. On the IOS store, I finally figured out the UNMS app was the correct one to use. This might be confusing for some folks. Maybe newer documentation reflects the change in the naming.

I connected the Cube to my home network and fired up the app, the wizard was very helpful in getting me connected to the Cube.

The use of the QR code to customize the instructions is a very nice time saver.  I was up and connected within 40 seconds.  Most of that time was switching over to my settings to connect to the wifi and switching back to the app. A nice feature would be launching the settings app for you.  Not sure if such system calls are allowed on iOS but something to consider.  On a side note, there is Puerto Rico listed as a country yet again. Not sure why this is a recurring theme with UBNT.

Anytime I get a new device like this one of the first things I do is upgrade the firmware to the latest. This was a very easy process. The app even had a little orange information thing directing me to go check it. The addition of the changelog within the app is a very nice touch. The total firmware upgrade took about 2 minutes.

I made the mistake of switching out of the app before the upgrade was done. The unit was not reporting the firmware was upgraded, and when I tried to upgrade again it gave me an error. Hitting logout on the app and logging back in refreshed the app and confirmed I was indeed at the latest firmware.

It’s getting late, but I wanted to get this out there and get the ball rolling.  Look for part 2 coming shortly when I go over the interface in detail. For now, I will leave you with my first impression summary.

The airCube has many nice physical features.  The long power cable makes the flexibility of installation easy.  No longer do you have to set it in an awkward place just because the power cable did not reach.  It does POE in and out, so you could power the unit with a wireless CPE POE if you were a WISP running UBNT gear. This would save on a power plug because you would only need one for your outdoor radio and the airCube. However, if you are deploying these with non-UBNT gear, or simply in a home with fiber or cable the small power plug makes for a neat and compact installation.

Setup was easy, minus the documentation issue on the app to get.  This is probably simply the app being updated for whatever reason and the documentation that came with my Cube being behind.

Look for part two coming soon.

 

Interesting Mikrotik GUI behavior

While bringing up a BGP session for a client I kept trying to add our side of a /126.  It kept reverting to the network address.  The video shows what happens when I tried to add ::12/126 to the IPV6 addresses.

After some second-guessing and then some Facebook chatting I decided to do a terminal /ipv6 address print.  Sure enough the proper IP shows up.  Must be a GUI bug.

Tower crew in today’s world

One of the questions we often are asked is why our rates for tower work are what they are. In today’s world, a tower crew needs the following, not only for themselves but to protect and do the best job for the client.

The first key is equipment.  Having a crew with proper ropes, proper lifting blocks, and pulleys, and proper safety gear goes a long way. A job can be done more efficiently with the proper tools.  In-Shape tools make a big difference. How many times have you gone to cut something with a dull blade? Tools get used up and have to be replaced.

Next up is safety and insurance.  I lump these into the same category because an insured crew is safe for the client.  Having the proper insurance protects the client from anything that may happen.  Tower work is dangerous work.  With insurance requirements comes updated training. Not only does this teach crews new methods of doing things, it helps them in becoming complacent in safety practices.

Availability is the next thing. Having a crew that can roll out in a timely manner to meet client’s needs takes a dedicated staff.  We see too many part-time crews not bringing in enough money so they are having to moonlight doing other things this lessens the availability because you have to find steady work to have quality people.

The last thing is the experience our crews have.  Having been a veteran of the WISP industry for over 12 years I have seen many ways of doing things, so Have the rest of the experienced folks in our crews. We have done night climbs, harsh weather work, and custom work.  Having someone who knows the WISP industry doing your tower work makes a huge difference.

MidWest Co-Location Special

1U Server co-location Special
-1 IP (more based upon justification at additional cost)
-Dual A/B power (dual power or transfer switch capable)
-Multiple transit BGP carriers (HE.NET, Cogent)
-MidWest-IX (www.midwest-ix.com) peering
-Dedicated gigabit port
-10 Megs of burstable bandwidth (more available)
$99 a month
$99 setup fee

Lots of add-ons available. Direct peers to Chicago, FedRamp certified facilities, redundant metro connections, redundant data centers.

Data Center Highlights

  • 99.995% uptime
  • F5 tornado resistant architecture
  • N+N redundant power and cooling
  • Fire suppression and environmental controls
  • Multi-layered security systems
  • Secure workspace for staging, storage and offices

Contact us today for questions and to setup service.

SaaS aka why I should pay per month for billing

The topic of paying per user for a billing or management platforms comes up every so often.  I was able to sit down and talk with several vendors at WISPAPALOOZA this year about the value of their customers paying a per-user fee.

The most prevalent thought is about innovation and new features.  SaaS allows the billing vendor to invest development and testing time in rolling out new features to support new equipment, and other software.  LTE platforms are the hot thing in billing integration. New additions to software take people power and hours of testing and tweaking. Without monthly recurring revenue to drive such things billing vendors would have to develop this and then charge to the early adopters as an add-on.  This can be a double-edged sword. The early adopters have to pay a premium in order to get a partial solution because the vendor has to really prioritize how their development resources are used. The Vendor is always chasing the next big thing, which means other additions or fixes tend to get pushed back. They have to finish add-ons they think more folks will want to buy first.

The next thing is plain old hosting. Hosting a software application, whether in the cloud or on your own hardware costs money.  Co-location, software patches on the OS, hardware lifecycles, etc.  This cuts down on the end-user maintenance side of the hardware but pushes it back to the vendor. The peace of mind of knowing the thing that collects your money is running is backed up, and is available as part of the monthly fee you pay.

SaaS also allows for quicker releases of bugs and new features.  Vendors have more resources dedicated to development and changes. This allows for new add-ons to become available quicker.  Take the traditional model where you get bug fixes, but major feature add-ons are either a full point upgrade or major version upgrade. This usually costs money and is a slower process.  Not only does the vendor have to spend resources advertising, but they have to deal with support and other issues. With billing vendors who charge a monthly fee fixes from companies such as Paypal or Authorize.net are almost always rolled out very quickly at no additional charge to the end user ISP.

Some companies such as Basecamp, which is not a billing platform, have taken a hybrid approach to SaaS. Every major revision that comes out is an upgrade. You can choose to upgrade or stay where you are and pay the same amount.  This can leave customers behind but still allows them to use what they are paying for.  They just don’t get new features or bug fixes.

So the next time you are figuring out why you should pay for a billing platform on a monthly, customer, or subscription basis take all of this into account.

For those looking for xISP billing, and mainly WISP billing, here is a partial list:

www.azotel.com
www.visp.net
www.powercode.com
www.sonar.software
www.splynx.com
www.ispbilling.com (Platypus)
www.freeside.biz
www.quickbooks.com

If you have more please add them in the comments.

Did you know Amazon business account…

Did you know if you have an Amazon business account you can get preferred pricing with some vendors who sell Cambium on Amazon? This is not the same pricing you see when you visit amazon.com.  This is pricing that is extended to you from vendors who sell on Amazon.

The way this works is by passing along your business ID, which is public information, to a seller.  this seller then qualifies you for direct pricing, and if accepted you receive an e-mail saying you have been approved for direct pricing.  When you log in and view the Cambium items the updated pricing is reflected.

MTIN is not the seller of these items, but if you are interested we can pass your Business ID along to some vendors who do.