Friday, October 24, 2014

The Holy Grail for WISPs? What could it be?

This was just posted to the WISPA general list. I only copypasta'd here because I think it's awesome to build up campaigns like this. I just hope that whatever it is, it lives up to the hype, and delivers.  What do you think you could be?

Subject: 
For WISPs, is the "Holy Grail" coming soon?

What if there was a technology you could use that...

- Could realistically generate $35,000/mo or more in revenue from a single tower site, leaving your controller with a perpetual goofy grin?
- Was able to connect in the real world over 350 subscribers per tower with a service package of 20 Mbps DL/5 Mbps UL without overtaxing the system and do it with just 3 sectors?
- Not only can reasonably connect well over 100 subscribers per sector, but we can prove it by logging into a system running live with hundreds of sector examples and tens of thousands of live subscribers, and can show you utilization across all time on any one to prove it?
- Allowed you maybe even double the above over time without another climb or a dime more?
- Enabled provable NLOS service in scale - even in 3.65 GHz - far better in range, capacity and stability than anything you've ever seen in 900 MHz?
- Included on every SM a built-in SIP client and POTS jacks?
- Featured SMs that had an optional built-in Wi-Fi AP fully manageable over the network to make your service more sticky?
- Had base stations that will eventually be able to configure and optimize themselves in real time without human intervention? Climb, mount, turn on, climb down.
- Also had SM options with dual N type connectors?
- Could manage the interference environment in even just 50 MHz so well we could show you a place with over 300 base stations across 600 square miles and over 20,000 connections, all operating as engineered?
- Permits your technicians to sleep soundly at night, ...and your competitors to have nightmares?

What would something like that be worth to your business?

It is coming, and soon. Do you want to know more? Send us a mail atunveilthegrail@gmail.com and we'll keep you in the loop offlist.

...oh, and let us know if you think we are just spinning fairy tales. We respect and love skeptics. We expect they'll be among our best new customers.




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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Connected Cars and Cameras on Dashboards

So I am definitely not the authority when it comes to connected cars. I'm pretty good at building wireless networks for municipalities, enterprises and businesses, but when it comes to the carrier stuff and building out a national network that's not really my expertise. The reason I preface this blog post with that is because I'm curious about the connected car.



On a recent drive from Houston, Texas down my hometown of McAllen, I saw a Ford Mustang with GoPro attached on the dashboard and two more cameras on the front of the car above the headlights. As anyone who's ever surfed the Internet knows, that is not an uncommon sight in Russia or any Eastern European country. Why? I dunno. You can scour YouTube and find videos from dashboard cams from all over Eastern Europe. However that doesn't necessarily seem the case of United States.

So what I started thinking about was this: if that GoPro was connected via Wi-Fi to the vehicle, and then out to the web, what opportunity would that open up for someone like, say, the insurance companies? Take that Flo. As more connected cars get introduced into the marketplace, specifically talking about GM's announcement to have 33 models all with 4G service, what kind of applications are we going to find for Broadband in the vehicle?

At CTIA's Super Mobility Week this year there were tons of examples of what you could do with the connected car. The CTO of Tesla motors talked about sending suspension updates down to the vehicle so that the car ran smoother and more efficiently for example. But I wonder how other people are really going to start using this type of connected technology to do things with cars that we haven't even thought of yet; and again, I am not a voice from the connected car manufacturing community, or a wireless carrier that serves up LTE across the continent, but I'm just a nerd trying to figure out different ways that I would use broadband.

With specific regard to the concept that I was just talking about, I can't imagine how awesome that would be for the insurance company to have cameras mounted into the bumpers an sides of the vehicle with a small DVR in the vehicle. It could not only be recording video and imagery, letting you review what happened, when it happened, how it happened, but when combined with all of the other sensor data on the vehicle including GPS imagine how that's going to make life easier for insurance adjuster?! If you're in an accident they don't have to wait to determine who's fault it was based on the police report, they can review the on-board sensors and on-board video to immediately figure out who was involved and how the accident took place.
When some developer of a connected "black box" for vehicles starts to push this out the insurance agent, I would not be surprised if it became standard equipment on every vehicle that goes off the lot.

I have a friend that sells used cars and he does something similar, not only to track his cars but also to have a killswitch so that when a payment is not made they can disable the car, grab the GPS location and go out to the site to pick up the vehicle. There was just an article published about this and circulated nationally where both sides of the argument came out in force.

If vehicles now have broadband connectivity built into them and it can be leveraged to support things like that on a much larger scale, as well as all of the sensor data, pushing firmware updates to braking system, etc. I think it could definitely impact that entire industry in ways we have yet to see or even imagine. When wireless took off, first with wireless cable, then the WISPs, then the muni broadband phase, and the overall proliferation into everyone's home and offices we saw this happen. Every PowerPoint slide had the "If you build it they will come" tagline. We saw connectivity being used for so many different things that we never thought of ... for whatever reason. Nest? Really? But what a great application. Imagine this "new" frontier. It's gonna be pretty exciting!

Anyhow, those are just my random thought about this subject, but I think we should really start to think about where this is going to lead the car industry not just from a connectivity standpoint and ability to watch SpongeBob SquarePants on a road trip, but how this is going to benefit every different level of business in automotive industry. I'm looking forward to the innovation.

As with all of my posts, thank you for taking the time to read this random string of thoughts and I hope you have a great week!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

WiFi Calling and VoLTE Network Readiness: Tidal wave or splash in a puddle?



I was out on an install recently and speaking with a group that runs the connectivity and IT service for a group of libraries in a City. We were discussing firewalls, application awareness, and eventually good ol' Wi-Fi. When someone brought up the iPhone 6, we began discussing VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling. The conversation that ensued had us all looking around the room at each other and realizing we weren't the only ones that had stumbled across this uh-oh moment.
But is it really that big of a deal?
I want to think this out via blog post..

Number of Devices on the Network
So, let's say everyone puts HD voice, or Wi-Fi Calling, or VoLTE on their phone. Now wherever they have a Wi-Fi connection, their calls are routed via the Wi-Fi chipset and across your APs and your network. I think this part of the conversation has more impact on your network than the next part. Right now, Wi-Fi adoption rates at home, work, and play are in a pretty high spot, but I think it can and will go higher. If carriers introduce a Wi-Fi calling plan that doesn't eat away at your minutes or they continue to drop the bar on data caps, or if mobile net neutrality doesn't come through, people will be loving that Wi-Fi at work, school, library, retail store, etc.

So many things have contributed to the increased use in Wi-Fi over time that one more item, like this push to packetize voice into VoLTE or Wi-Fi calling, is just going to increase that, and that's going to increase the load on your network. More devices require an infrastructure that can handle, more devices. As is right now, too many networks are stressing their WLAN equipment in an effort to offer wireless services to everyone, just think about how awesome it will be once (to use a 2014 millennial generation word of the year) literally everyone gets on that network? Awesome, right?

That library customer that I was visiting now becomes the carrier .. not really, but, what's the difference? If I am a Verizon customer having problems completing a call at your library because your Wi-Fi network can't handle the number of devices or the traffic on the network, who gets the support call? You guessed it, whoever's closest. That means the person working the help desk gets the question "is your wifi working, I can't make a call" which prompts he / she to call you, which leads to.. well, you get the picture. This might not happen all of the time, but with more of a dependence on Wi-Fi networks from mobile devices, tablets, phablets, etc. it can and will become an issue.

So what do you do?
First of all, make sure your wired network infrastructure is capable of handling these high-speed connections to your wireless network. Think about your cabling; is it capable of running GigE across it? How about PoE and PoE+? It might be time for an infrastructure upgrade in the wiring department. On that note: Go big or go home. If you're looking for a great and informative free lunch, this is totally a great time to call your disti and ask to have the cable rep take you to Sizzler and drop some science on you. Trust me, you'll get a kick out of it. Just say: "What's the difference between your cable and the stuff from Home Depot? Cables is cables, right?" Watch them stop chewing immediately.



Now, what about those pesky switches? These aren't gonna be 100Mbps ports we're talking about after all. What good is all that fancy MU-MIMO and open airspace in the 5GHz spectrum if you're dumping it into a 100Mbps port? I'm not saying to get knee-deep in this, but if you do, why not check out some of these. I just signed up as an Arista dealer, and man, these things blow me away!

Now that you have a kick-butt foundation, figure out if your wireless infrastructure is capable of supporting the number of devices that will be sitting on it in the very near future. It might be, it might not be. My rough estimate is figuring on 30 devices per AP, for now (granted, that is a very rough estimate). If you think about your users, some may have 2 devices, that may give you around 20 users per APs. If you think there will be more than 30 devices, figure out the best way to scale up or engineer a solution for it. I'm not talking about simply adding more access points and increasing your noise-floor, I'm saying figure out the best design for your network that can offload some of those users onto more strategic access points, take advantage of technologies like beamforming, band-steering, load balancing, etc. This will more than likely require some professional engineering, so don't skimp.

Now, if you haven't upgraded to N or AC, start to think about that, like yesterday. Freeing up your spectrum on 2.4GHz and adding capacity on 5 GHz is a must. With the iPhone 6 and all future devices supporting 802.11ac, give those users a place to take advantage of that technology. Start phasing it in if you have to, but get the ball rolling.

Anyhow, some of this might hit home with you, some of it might not. Either way, whether you want to pay attention to this blog post or not, know that it is coming. You might not have to order a ton of Arista 7150's but at the end of the day your infrastructure will be used to place and receive calls from Joe-public. When that happens it's probably better to be on the side of supporting it without a headache than scrambling to figure out what to do. Keep in mind, whichever situation you're in, feel free to call and I'll sell ya stuff and maybe even take you to Sizzler. :)

Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Installing Ruckus FlexMaster 9.8.0.0.36 on HyperV running CentOS 7

I'm only posting this because it has been my journey for the last 2 days, and I want to share the secret sauce that worked for me. PS, in the release notes FlexMaster is only supposed to run on RedHat Enterprise Linux and CentOS 6.3 or 6.5, so take that as a warning that while this install works, it is not recommended or supported by Ruckus .. I'm just doing it because I like to be difficult. :)
  1. Create a New Virtual Machine
  2. Name it what you will
  3. Make sure to give it plenty of memory
  4. Choose the right NIC (Important: if you are using CentOS 6.3 or 6.5 you have to use the Legacy Adapter Option after setup of the VM completes or else CentOS won't see your card)
  5. Plenty of space for storage
  6. Choose the right image
  7. Hit the Finish Button
  8. Connect to your new VM and start that bad boy up.
  9. Choose Install from the menu.
  10. Now you have the "Installation Summary" page. Under "Software Selection", you're gonna want to choose a couple of add-ons that are needed by the FlexMaster install.

  11. I used the "Basic Web Server" config and added-on: PHP Support, Perl for Web, Compatibility Libraries and Development Tools
Once you're done with that first part, the install starts and your VM comes up. Login with root. Here's what I did that worked:

  1. Make sure you have the latest ISO of the FlexMaster software on-hand, and downloaded from the Ruckus Support website.
  2. Fire up an FTP server on a machine, the HyperV server, or somewhere on the local network. Then, use wget to transfer the file:
  3. # wget ftp://IPADDRESS/FM_Software.iso
  4. create a mount space using:
  5. # mkdir /mnt/flexmasterinstall
  6. Mount the iso of the flexmaster software to that location:
  7. # mount -o loop /FM_Software.iso /mnt/flexmasterinstall
  8. This part was pretty important: copy the files from the iso to a directory on the machine:
    # cp -r /mnt/flexmasterinstall /opt/flexmasterinstall
  9. Once that's done:
  10. # umount /mnt/flexmasterinstall
    # rmdir /mnt/flexmasterinstall
  11. From here, get into the dirctory and run the install command:
    # cd /opt/flexmasterinstall
    # ./install.sh
  12. Let that thing go and answer the questions.
  13. Once it's done, don't forget to do this: open up that firewall!
  14. Here's how to open the firewall for http and https (kinda important to do https considering ZoneDirectors require an HTTPS option to communicate with FlexMaster).. and don't forget to restart.
    # firewall-cmd --permanent --add-service=http
    # firewall-cmd --permanant --add-service=https
    
    # systemctl restart firewalld

That's it! Go to the IP address of the server and you should be good to go!
Please note, this might have some errors, cus I'm on 2 monsters and some Limonata Sanpellegrino.