The following is based on my Tweet stream (@brough) during the conference plus some other notes I took off-line during the Tower session (when there was no Wi-Fi).
Brief summary: The conference was a great success, certainly for me, but seemingly for all.
Notes from the Wireless ISP Association (WISPA) meeting
St. Louis, July 21-22, 2010
WISPA meeting scheduled to start @8:45am (20 min) but room near empty. Sleeping late in St. Louis? Conf Agenda, see http://su.pr/24Zlii near bottom.
Twitter's location service keeps telling me I'm in Berkeley CA when I'm in St. Louis. Having to reset it makes the svc less than helpful.
The 40 Mbps wireless link set up for this meeting died in last night's lightening storm. Hotel has DSL? ugh. Hope radio get fixed!
Rick Harnish speaking: WISPA has signed up ~50 new members just because people wanted to come to this meeting.
Nice to finally meet Matt Larsen after many years of seeing him on email lists. Matt comments that WISPA membership now over 400.
Steve Coran, Doug Karl, Dewayne Hendricks, Patrick Leary visionaries panel is up, but 1st the ""Did you know, shift happens"" video...
Dewayne H started as a ham (age 12, 1961), then 56kbps packet radio in 1986; went commercial 1990 - wireless Internet, mesh, early!
Doug Karl started in IT as OSU, needed Internet for off-campus folks and started P2MP wireless net.
Patrick Leary started in fiber but focus is broadband Internet and that led him into wireless (initially in Atlanta ex-urbs.
Doug Karl became advocate for WaveLAN (from NCR) radios and their use for P2MP, then an advocate for early WISPs.
Dewayne Hendricks - the gating issue is regulatory. Original NOI discussed open spectrum, no power limits! Today rules are tightening.
Doug Karl commenting on having your town put extra requirements on cable company when up for renewal.
Dewayne's mission impossible plan for spectrum - demo alternate spectrum approaches in other countries (e.g. Tonga); existence proof!
Dewayne: reinvent, repurpose mass-market stuff - Wi-Fi silicon, DOCSIS modems (use transverters!).
Dewayne is pessimistic about starting a new WISPA today. I have to have an argument with him!
Doug Karl: remember you are in the communications biz - wireless may be only part of that (don't be wireless only).
Now it’s hard to pick which of three tracks... Whitespace policy; 4G; or VoIPoW. Love policy issues, know 4G & VoIP but wish I had all PPTs.
Raja Gopal - Alvarion - pushing WiMAX. $5K for a 16e basestation today but admits in 2-4 years LTE will win. But deploy WiMAX now.
VoIPoW discussion justified by how much money can be made with voice, but need QoS and high level of service - must be dependable.
TV White space discussion: politics! politics! chg sensing requirements; still large antenna issue.
Marlon Schafer asks about eventual pollution of TVWS by home LAN devices. Jack Unger on current interference mitigation discussions.
another 3 tracks decision: Mktg; FCC's 3rd way regulation; or Fiber deployment. But the only Wi-Fi access in the Mktg room. :(
Mktg Elizabeth Bowles loves on-line but (on behalf of Forbes Mercy) pushing radio (PR & Ads) for rural WISPAs; also yard signs!
Mktg: Ken Janc, Lorex Inc, on targeted direct mail and door-to-door - expensive but can be cost effective (cost per acquisition).
Mktg: Ken Janc - at least have your installers do door hangers on next door houses when doing an install.
Elizabeth Bowles of Aristotle.Net on SEO, pay for advice if you are not found via ""broadband in <your location>"", get prof advice.
Elizabeth Bowles big proponent of video on your website - dramatically boosts response rates.
Elizabeth Bowles: mobile phone enable your website. Remember smart phones with Wi-Fi access. Unlimited mobile data is dead, so people using WiFi.
Elizabeth Bowles: need a Facebook Fan page! Twitter account; LinkedIn; YouTube, Flickr, Yelp, etc. Track and respond.
Elizabeth Bowles: Optimized press releases (select key words to get coverage) is to get on-line coverage, not local press.
Martha Huizenga of DC Access a WISP in small DC neighborhoods: pick targets; then: postcards, signs <cars, yards>, local newspapers.
Martha Huizenga postcards are the only printed media; leaves them at dry cleaners & other local stores. Rest are PDFs by email/online.
Elizabeth Bowles responding to a Q: Market Wire costs $400-$700 per release; so search optimization your release first!
Elizabeth Bowles answering Q: need 3-4 touches to get a response. Link sign, postcard, website landing page to drive touches.
Michael Calabrese of the New America Foundation is luncheon keynote - talk is focused on open spectrum and especially TVWS issues.
Michael Calabrese: big problem - Genachowski's focus on auctioning large parts of the TVWS.
Calabrese: FCC, Congress & WhiteHouse intent on auctioning everything, including 20 TV channels (after paying off TV broadcasters).
Calabrese: If 20 TV channels went, after repacking broadcasters, there wouldn't be enough TVWS for an equipment market to emerge.
Calabrese: Spectrum sharing still sailing under DC radar; he's pushing that TVWS database extend to additional bands (e.g. military?).
Calabrese: we should use the same database to allow temporary access to ""warehoused spectrum"" i.e. until spectrum holder uses it.
Calabrese: Why shouldn't WISPs have temporary access to any spectrum band that is not yet in use in their geography?
Calabrese: FCC is not nearly as aware of the WISP community as it should be. Pls visit them; write to congress; file ltr to NOI.
Network Management: Matt Larsen, Vistabeam with Butch Evans; Brian Vargyas, Baltic; Alex Phillips, HSLink; Cameron Crum, Wispmon.
Larsen favors open source. Issues: integrate related items, respect business (may have to fire specific customers), leverage tech.
Larsen on processes: Billing, Provisioning, Dispatch, NW Mgmt (core & customer), Support, CRM, CustSat, Mktg, Employee accountability.
Larsen: Vistabeam has 1700 miles of wireless backbone over 600 miles. Documentation is critical before someone goes out in the field.
Larsen: Billing Freeside, Powercode, Platypus, ... He uses Freeside.
Larsen: NMS - What's Up Gold, Nagios, Xymon; proactively call people whose service is down. Also RT for trouble tickets.
Larsen on phone system - uses Asterisk but also familiar with Tribox and others. Msg when there's an outage cuts support calls!
Larsen on documentation - uses Network View, Visio, Dude and a wiki to capture other things (e.g. details of every tower).
Larsen reevaluate your performance metrics regularly. Ditto for biz processes.
Brian Vargyas on NM Mgmt: Be proactive, not reactive; BW usage; link history - Dude, Cacti, Nagios. New Dude 4.0 (beta) on SQL DB.
Vargyas - Dude works with any SNMP enabled device, not just MikroTik devices. Any MT board can be an agent to offload central box.
Vargyas - Cacti is open src PHP-based graphing system with web GUI but no notifications. Looks at anything with SNMP OID.
Cameron Crum of Wispmon - started a WISP, needed an IT infrastructure and a way to monitor his network. Visual kind of guy.
Crum is focused on demo'ing the Wispmon product.
Butch Evans speaking on QoS and prioritizing traffic to improve customers' performance - all on MikroTik. Others use Imagestream.
Butch Evans QoS script runs at an aggregation point. QoS won't fix massive overload problems; will help schedule during congestion.
Matt Larsen uses remote power control by Digital Loggers - auto power cycle if no ping on time.
Butch Evans QoS script for MikroTik is $175. Uses IP tables; categorizes most traffic and assigns it priorities; updated as needed.
Butch Evans was trying to emulate NetEqualizer when he started on his MikroTik QoS scripts.
Off to a Tower Technology session but there is no wireless in that room, so no Tweets.
WISPA Tower tech panel - Walked after they had started so I missed the introductions - not sure who is who…
Seems everyone is using 11b or 11g as they regard selecting polarization as critical.
Jack Unger (and at least one panelist) believes narrower channels (10 MHz or 5 MHz) cause the signal to go farther. Statement that narrower channels have less background noise to contend with, thus the signal goes farther. Given OFDM, this doesn't make sense to me. Need to investigate what’s really happening.
One panelist argues for regulated power as the power supplies in the MikroTik's are cheap.
One approach to power and UPS is to use 24v PoE with a central 24v DC supply and two 12v deep cycle batteries.
Everyone advocates UPS. One guy has 8 hours for every site.
At least one guy tells his customers to buy APCs for the client site. Tornado zone, take laptop to basement and track tornado in real time.
Weatherproofing for coaxial connections:
- Courtesy wrap (white tape) protects connector from butyl layer
- Butyl layer (a mastic like putty)
- 3M Super 33+ electrical tape (3 layers, shingled down on last layer) to extend at least an inch past the butyl layer.
The Andrew website has good tutorial on weatherproofing antenna connectors.
Use DC4 dielectric grease to protect Ethernet connectors. Note this is not clear silicon! (even though it looks similar).
Inspect everything at least once per year.
Just posted some pictures from the conference here: http://su.pr/2XQuqp More to come (will be added to this set!).
Conf has 253 registrations and 40 vendors. Mtg will breakeven or be slightly profitable. 43 new members joined in past one(?) month.
Board Mtg.: I should look into the Ambassador's program... They're looking for members to represent WISPA at regional events.
CALEA update - WISPA spec needs 3 updates to meet new rules; complex negotiation btwn FBI & WISPA. Next issue up is IPv6.
FCC Committee efforts: TVWS (not auctions); TDWR Database (stay 30 MHz away) - problems in Boston & PR); 3650 MHz (4 rule changes).
FCC Comm spent $5K in June, slightly lower than average; but advocacy and meetings are the bulk of what WISPA spends $ on.
Discussion of FCC-specific, or issue-specific, fund raising + volunteers to help engr'g (versus raising dues). Also partnering!
Steve Coran pitch at Marlon's request. (Rini-Coran is WISPA's law firm for DC politics).
Several members suggest that FCC Comm provide boilerplate that members can use to send letters to their representatives.
An aside in my twitter stream, not directly related to
the WISPA meeting:
Where do telecom lobbyists come from? There's a fantastic graph about half way down this page: http://su.pr/1tjZnZ Hint: they used to work for congress!
Peter Stanforth, CTO, Spectrum Bridges up next on TVWS Trials. First focus on 2ndary mkts - time of day, location, freq. >10yr effort.
Stanforth has nice graphics on what TV white spaces are and how they arise. Hope to get his slides, eventually.
TVWS database administrator. Stanforth suggests we can have competition even here, and still accomplish desired results
Stanforth Summary of trials' field results in 04-186 FCC proceedings. http://su.pr/2F9dOx
Stanfort: All TVWS trials have worked; getting 3x-5x coverage vs. 2.4 GHz systems; no interference complaints!
Stanforth: sensing unnecessary; drop antenna height limits; use fixed power limits & masks. Make DB higher fidelity than orig req'd.
Stanforth running TVWS BB antenna next to TV antenna in trials. Don't need separation! Must relax power limits and masks!
Stanforth notes that many TV stations are spraying out-of-band energy (a license violation!) but they haven't cared (so far).
Stanforth: if there are multiple database admins, they will coordinate btwn each other once each night, at least as proposed so far.
Rob Kubik of Motorola talking about FAA radars (TDWR) and DFS as basis for renewed outdoor use of 255 MHz of 5 GHz spectrum.
Kubik: experiments show 30 MHz away is ok, even in close (<35 km) to radar; combined w/DB approach should solve problem, but FCC..??
Jack Unger showing TDWR database which WISPA & Spectrum Bridge did jointly - going on-line next week. Meanwhile http://su.pr/1Xk1SC
Stanforth showing prototype of TDWR database that will be up next week. Currently at http://su.pr/2iHAdO although that will change.
Panel on Buying and Selling WISPs. Prices seem to be from 1x to 2x revenues but many factors. Based on buyer estimate of cash flow expected after the transaction.
Across the board, panel is really cautious about any deal that involves stock or deferred cash. :)
Shiraz Moosajee's advice to buyers: plan on 20% reserve to fix problems and be sure you have 20% beyond that just in case.
Buy/Sell panel: 90-180 day clawback or true up clauses are common, with 20-25% in escrow.
Buy/Sell panel: Even if you don't plan to sell anytime soon, while growing your biz, keep revenue history, per tower.
Buy/Sell panel: Even though everyone prefers cash, very few deals are all cash (and they were fire sales).
Buy/Sell panel: Re buying small neighboring WISPS (100 subs) - frequently done with seller financing over 2-3 years. Estimate growth.
Buy/Sell panel: The smaller the network the less info you are liable to get!
Buy/Sell panel: Need transferability in all your lease agreements as buyers want assets (sellers prefer stock sale for Cap gains).
Buy/Sell panel: Sellers frequently have personal guarantees associated with corporate accts - got to know how to unravel these.
Julius Knapp http://su.pr/9BXRJs FCC, lunch keynote: Update on spectrum activities, but starts by hyping BB Plan.
Knapp on spectrum: ack's spectrum that's not yet built, but still pushing FCC/mobile operator's line: need more (licensed) spectrum.
Knapp promoting: spectrum dashboard; incentive auctions; more spectrum for mobile BB & for Backhaul - but this w.b. licensed. Ugh!
Knapp - only items that resonate with me: more unlicensed (Rec 5.11) and opportunistic use of spectrum NPRM (Rec 5.15) - Q3-2010.
Knapp & Ruth Milkman co-chair FCC Spectrum Task Force. Good, but he doesn't mention that FCC only controls part of the spectrum.
Knapp - Pres memo is forcing FCC & NTIA to work jointly on 500 MHz of new spectrum & Pres used words "licensed and unlicensed.
Knapp on TVWS 17 petitions for reconsideration. Expects multiple database mgs to be approved as part of this action.
Knapp acknowledges that 3650 MHz lite licensing has been a significant success, even as there is work afoot to improve things.
Knapp - TDWR protection w.b.: avoid freqs & 30 MHz guardband within 35 km. Make sure this works, so further licensing isn't required.
Knapp: the proceeding on backhaul scheduled for August 5th commissioners' meeting.
Knapp Q&A on Presidential memo suggests that ""licensed & unlicensed"" means some mix. How that's divided is to be argued...
Knapp says Aug 5th mtg will result in increased flexibility in use of spectrum for backhaul. But he wouldn't give details.
Knapp defends existing build-out reqmts. Charles Wu asks about Pt 101 licensing. A: spectrum transparency point is to find squatters.
Ray Savich of Moto describing software tools they have to help WISPs plan their businesses. These are biz tools, not just RF stuff.
Savich on ""Leased line payback calculator"" another tool to help sell WISP services.
Jay Lawrence of Gigabeam showing wireless carrier in Las Vegas who's built a wireless carrier Ethernet network using >50 1Gbps links.
xG Technology is here. Have dropped their original magical claims http://su.pr/1fBB9d for some completely conventional RF technology.
xG now has a proprietary mobile voice solution that runs on unlicensed spectrum. Not interoperable, but more a community cordless solution.
Cameron Crum of Wispmon demo'g their WISP-in-a-box IT solution including qualifying prospects against towers & terrain map. Very cute!
Crum emphasizes taking & preserving pictures of every install indoor incldg where power is connected (tell cust. how to power cycle).
Robert Olive of Wispmon is now pushing their new iPhone apps that work with Wispmon.
Nathan Stooke of WisperISP started in 2003; took a yr to breakeven; 3 yrs to make a salary; today, $2.4M revenue & 20 employees.
Stooke focus on best network and best customer service; has since taken over 15 competitors (many evolved from dial-up days).
Stooke: competitors were dial-up ISPs who entered wireless reluctantly. Diff was he wanted to build a wireless NW and he focused on svc.
Stooke: struggle to find good people; hirer slowly, carefully; some start as contractors, become employees later. He doesn’t provide benefits...
Stooke: employee training espc customer svc - one full day a month devoted to on-going training.
Stooke: run it as if you were setting up to sell it, i.e. keep it clean, fix problems, don't let them linger. Make it a showcase.
Stooke: Has a fire truck with 100' extension ladder that he got for $1K (but spent $26K getting fixed & certified) = temp tower.
Jim Murphy of NetSapiens describing their VoIP solution for WISPs - scales up, also down to system for just 10 simultaneous calls.
Murphy positioning against Asterisk (lower opex, expertise) and hosting (facilities based, more control; potentially better QoS).
Murphy also offering local virtual switch where realtime elements are local but NetSapiens handles everything else.
Now I have to leave to catch a plane, so I'll miss the final prize drawings. :( But this has definitely been worth it!!