Three new "on-net" buildings

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This spring, we have added three new buildings to our "on-net" portfolio. These are buildings that are supplied by at least 500 Mbps dedicated bandwidth and in most cases, 1 Gbps links.

1211 Avery St is a multi-unit commercial building that also services our Avery tower site. Units in this building have access to our dedicated 500 Mbps microwave link.

The condo building located at the corner of 19th St and Ford is now on-network. This building is being upgraded to a gigabit dedicated wireless link by Q1 2019. 

The two 6 unit condo buildings on 8th St between Washington and Cheyenne are serviced with a dedicated 1 Gbps link.

For service in any of these buildings, visit our sign-up form!

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Our equipment - update #4 for 2018

Looks like it has been around 18 months since we last updated our equipment information and there have been a couple significant changes.

We changed our upstream ISP about 12 months ago. We used to buy fiber and Internet access from Comcast. While this worked fine, we started looking for more of a strategic partner for our bandwidth. We found another WISP in Colorado that was expanding their business connection footprint into Golden and after some discussions, we realized it made sense to buy bandwidth from them. They took over our Comcast contract to the Mountaineering Center downtown and then they added a 10G fiber link to our tower on Lookout mountain. This gave us access to significantly more bandwidth at cheaper pricing than Comcast. It also gave us redundancy between the two locations.

With this change, we had to move away from the Peplink core router. It was time to finish learning the Mikrotik and switch back to them. We started off with a CCR1009 at both the Mountaineering Center and the Lookout Mountain tower. These were connected via 1G fiber to our ISPs routers in each location (also Mikrotiks).

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We also removed our AirFiber 24 link from the Mountaineering Center to Lookout and replaced it with a Siklu 1 Gbps link operating in the 70 GHz band. This Siklu link has two Ethernet ports on it. We use one to route our management VLAN between locations. Our ISP uses the other to build a redundant link for both of our networks incase of a fiber failure at either location. Our ISP took care of BGP routing of our public IP space - one less thing for us to worry about and it makes sense since they own the public range we use.

We recently upgraded both of our edge routers to Mikrotik CCR1016-12S-1S+ routers. We did this to remove a single point of failure at each location - the edge switch - and move all of our connections to fiber. Now, each CCR1016-12S-1S+ is connected to 2 or 3 Netonix switches that in turn hit all our radios. These Netonix all are home run wired back to the CCR1016-12S-1S+ via redundant fiber (using RSTP). If we loose a switch now, we only loose the radios attached to it. In the past, we had one main switch that fed other switches via copper. If we lost our main switch, we lost everything. As we keep adding radios and backhaul links, I needed to increase throughput to each switch, remove single points of failure, and get away from RF interference the longer Ethernet runs were experiencing on our towers. Plus, I like being electrically separated from switch to router on our towers by using glass.

Now that we have Mikrotik routers in both edge locations, we have our ISP routing around fiber failures via BGP and we are routing around failures of their hardware using simple internal route rules in the Mikrotiks.  In other words, if there is a fiber cut out in the wild, our ISP will self heal to the other fiber line via their link on the Siklu.  If our ISP has their own router failure or the connection between us and them fails at either location, we will self heal over our side of the Siklu link. The two fiber paths (Mountaineering Center and the Lookout tower) each take separate physical paths back to the main connection in an Internet hotel in downtown Denver.

So, while we are not 100% immune from problems, we are well protected from a large percentage of potential issues.

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We were able to re-use the AirFiber 24 radios to become a point to point to a large condo building in Golden. From this building, we placed an IgniteNet 10G Omni (60 GHz radio) to supply 2 Gbps connections to a number of other condo buildings in the area - allowing us to grow our "on network" building footprint and offer speeds well in excess of 100 Mbps in each of these buildings. Many can now support eventual gigabit speeds with no additional hardware upgrades. We just need to buy more bandwidth...

In each of our "on network" buildings, we place another Mikrotik router (various models) to provide both private and public IP routing to the customers in each building. This allows us to bandwidth shape at each building as well.

Let's talk about network management now... That was also a big change in 2017. The network finally outgrew QuickBooks and manual management. Both from a simple invoicing and money collection standpoint to an automated work flow point. We contracted with Sonar and now use them for 100% of our customer management, billing, traffic shaping, sales, installation, etc. A perspective member signs up on our website via a form that links to TowerCoverage.com  That form pre-qualifies the person and then dumps all their information into Sonar for us. We then schedule roof visits and installs via Sonar and kick the work orders out to our installers automatically. Once installed, we activate the customer in Sonar, it assigns them an IP address and then programs the correct router and places them into the correct speed package and builds the interface queue. It bills them and allows them to pay online. If a customer is delinquent, it will automatically slow their connection to 1 Mbps and allow access only to our billing portal. The moment they pay, it automatically releases that restriction and they are back online. Everything is automated! Took a bunch of "busy work" from the admin.

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We have added a couple more licensed point to point links as well as a handful of unlicensed 60 GHz links capable of 2 Gbps of throughput. We are removing as much 5 GHz point to point as possible.

2018 has brought a few new buildings on-line as well as expansion into two additional neighborhoods we did not service before.

No Point to Multi-point equipment changes are on the horizon. We continue to be very happy with the Cambium ePMP gear and look forward to the ePMP 3000 line coming out this year.

New "On Network" buildings!

As we continue to grow our footprint in downtown Golden, we have recently brought three new residential condo buildings online with Au Wireless.  Welcome 1203 Washington, Prospector Place and Miners Point - all in the downtown corridor of Golden. In each of these buildings, we have brought in gigabit microwave (fiber speeds) and then use the building wiring to service individual condo units. 

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This allows us to provide very fast and reliable service to the units in that building. Installation times drop from around 2 hours for a home to 30 to 45 minutes for a condo unit and we can often schedule installs in the same week as you sign up because all the equipment is already on site and running.

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Omni vs Horn

For a while, we have been big fans of the RF Elements horn antenna. On our tower, we have replaced all the sectors with horns.  However, on many of our mini-pop locations, we were using smaller omni antennas. This allowed us to only have to install one radio and keep the package fairly small.  

On one of our mini-pops, we were having some interference issues as well as a couple subscribers that were shooting through a tree and performance was taking a hit.

There is the original install.  Below is a section of the radio performance page to show you what that AP looked like from a signal perspective (you'll need to reference via IP address for comparison):

Couple of those subscribers were not doing so well and we were seeing a fair amount of interference issues (despite frequency selected) on the north side of town (to the right on the photo). In fact, some subscribers would not even associate with this antenna but others nearby would.

So, we decided to give the horns a try here.  We pulled down the omni and put up a 60 degree horn facing north and a 70 degree horn facing more south / west.  Most of the subscribers are to the north. That AP kept the same frequency and power settings - just a new antenna.  The 70 degree horn is on an adjacent frequency now (GPS syncronized).

Here is what the radio performance looks like for the two radios. The radio with more subscribers is the north radio on the same channel and power as the omni was.

 North 60 degree horn

North 60 degree horn

 New south facing 70 degree horn

New south facing 70 degree horn

Immediate improvement in signal, SNR and speeds to the subscribers.  A couple subscribers that were no longer able to hit their speed package (with a TCP test) are now able to do so - just with a simple antenna replacement from omni to horn.

While omni's have a place (sometimes), we are getting away from them whenever possible and sticking with an antenna design that keeps working for us no matter where we install it.

Mimosa A5 speed with GPS sync

We've been waiting for some time now (months) to really test out the Mimosa A5 platform. We have been waiting for the firmware that allows GPS sync. Since we run sync on all of our APs, it was not fair to test speeds on a non-synced platform vs a synced platform.

Well, Mimosa released firmware 2.2.1 which allows for a 50/50 split using GPS synchronization.  We've had an A5-14 up for a while with 6 clients on it as our test.  All the clients are well under 300 meters from the AP - most are within 100 meters. 

The AP is connected to a 300 x 300 fiber line.  We ran this test when there was no traffic on the AP so our test client was not competing with anyone else. Really trying to find a best case scenario.

AP is using frequency 5310 with a 40 Mhz width:

 What the RF environment looks like

What the RF environment looks like

We used a C5 client that was around 75 meters from the AP with a clear shot at it.  Here is what the AP reported for connection:

Nice clean signal, very low noise and great SNR.  We have the full 8 MCS and showing 360 Mbps for PHY.

Now it was time to run some real world speed tests. We wanted to see results of what a customer would see running similar speed tests. One of these results is using a speed test hosted at our ISP, the others are 3rd party. All gave back similar results.

 This was hosted by our ISP

This was hosted by our ISP

 3rd party hosted speed test

3rd party hosted speed test

 Netflix Fast.com result

Netflix Fast.com result

For comparison, on our ePMP APs running in 50/50 mode, we are right around 110 Mbps x 110 Mbps. The upload is a bit faster than the Mimosa but the download is a little bit slower - by around 25 Mbps on average.  We normally run the ePMP in 75/25 mode but that mode is not available yet for the Mimosa platform.

This is pretty close to being in line with Mimosa's claim that we should see ~250 Mbps aggregate throughput on a 40 Mhz channel with the A5.

1st half of the licensed link is up

This weekend, we installed the first half of the new licensed link that will service the Easley Rd neighborhood.

The larger white dish (without the logo) is the new radio. It is replacing the smaller dish with the orange "M" on it.  As soon as the FCC gives us the go-ahead to turn it on, we'll start working on the far end. This will more than double our capacity into that neighborhood and will eliminate the interference we have been dealing with for the last few months.

My speeds seem slow... What is going on?

When members contact us regarding slow or intermittent speeds inside their house, 99% of the time this is related to the wireless connection inside the house - from your router to your computer. There are a number of causes of this. The first thing we will ask is for you to plug your computer directly into the router and run a speed test. This will rule out the Internet connection almost all the time.

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AUWireless Equipment - part 3

It's been a little while since we last updated our equipment. I know a number of smaller WISPs out there that have followed this. One of our goals as a co-op has been to provide as much information as possible to help others interested in this model deploy gear successfully.  And, one of my motivations behind this is I like to test new gear. We have a very good working relationship with many of our vendors and as a result, get some test gear from time to time. Some of it works out great, some of it not so much, but we do deploy it all in a production environment and put it through the paces.

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Easley West Install

Those of you in the Easley Rd area, you are getting a second antenna (mini-pop) site that will hopefully be coming on-line in early October. Installation began today on the members house that will serve as the new relay - which we are calling "Easley-West".  

We are waiting on some additional equipment to arrive before we can turn on the mini-pop and start testing. This should double our capacity in that neighborhood and will likely serve as our last antenna site out there. We expect to be able to cover approximately 85% of the homes in that neighborhood.

New capacity in North Golden!

A new and high-speed "mini-pop" came on line for good last week and has it's first members on it! This is going to replace the Mountain Ridge mini-pop since it has a better view of north Golden, Mountain Ridge and parts of downtown Golden.

This mini-pop is on a members roof and is not attached to our equipment on Lookout Mountain. That provides us some additional redundancy should there be a catastrophic failure at the Lookout Mountain tower facility...

We are going to be moving a handful of existing members in north Golden off the Lookout tower and onto this new site (called "Cliff Line") to increase speeds and reduce load from Lookout.  In our initial testing, we are able to achieve download speeds in excess of 125 Mbps and upload speeds in excess of 40 Mbps from members houses that are attached to the new site. This is a big improvement from the 50 Mbps maximum we have from the Lookout Mountain site.

 Cliff Line mini-pop

Cliff Line mini-pop

Mountain Ridge and N. Golden repeater coming online

 New repeater in Mountain Ridge

New repeater in Mountain Ridge

Due to popular demand in the Mountain Ridge subdivision and area surrounding, we are adding a new repeater site. This is located just west of Mitchell Elementary and will service parts of the south half of Mountain Ridge, GoldCo Cir and area in between.  We are working on a roof rights agreement to add an additional site in the Mesa Meadows subdivision to hopefully complete our coverage on the north side of town.

Buffalo Bill Days gets free Internet from AU Wireless

 Temporary radio on the roof of the AMC

Temporary radio on the roof of the AMC

AU Wireless provided free Internet to the Golden High School football teams fundraising tent at Buffalo Bill Days in Golden this past weekend.  We were contacted by a future member of the co-op who asked if it would be possible to help out the football team and provide Internet to allow the tent to have a couple point of sale computers for people to buy merchandise online and support the team.

Since our main Internet connection is in the American Mountaineering Center right across the street, we asked the AMC for permission and they happily allowed it!  Please thank the AMC and Colorado Mountaineering Center when you next visit for helping support AU Wireless and local fundraising in Golden!

 Radio on the GHS Football team tent

Radio on the GHS Football team tent

Easley Rd site is up!

 Member antenna looking towards the tower on the house in the distance

Member antenna looking towards the tower on the house in the distance

After weeks of preparation, four volunteers helping with the install of the repeater site and a week of testing the site with an existing member, we finally added our first "new" member to the Easley Rd antenna site. We are officially calling this antenna "Easley-East" since there are already plans in the works for Easley-West. However, at this point, Easley-East should have no problems servicing the residents that have asked for service from us. Five additional new members are scheduled for installation prior to the July 4 holiday.

This is AU Wireless' second mini-pop (or neighborhood tower). The first was added in Harmony Village. We have plans in the works to add a third mini-pop in the Mountain Ridge neighborhood later this summer. Stay tuned for details on that.

Welcome Harmony Village!

 Transmitter in Harmony Village

Transmitter in Harmony Village

Today we brought our brand new "mini tower" on-line in Harmony Village. Due to increasing demand (and a bunch of big cottonwood trees), we decided Harmony Village needed its own transmitter. With the help of Micah, one of our members, this transmitter is ready to go and has its first member on it! 

This new mini tower will accomplish two things:

1) It will get the residents of Harmony Village on-line much faster
2) It will prove a concept AU Wireless is looking to deploy in other neighborhoods 

Bringing the transmitter local (vs the top of Lookout Mountain) reduces congestion on the three transmitters on Lookout and speeds up the connections to the individual member homes. It also potentially allows more homes to see the local transmitter. We have plans for this type of deployment in the Easley Rd area, in the Mountain Ridge subdivision and downtown Golden.

Harmony Village is a perfect location for our first mini tower and we welcome the residents to the network!

AU Wireless equipment in Nevada desert

AU Wireless equipment in Nevada desert

Equipment provided by AU Wireless helped provide Internet access in the middle of the Nevada desert. The Further Future festival took place April 29 through May 1, 2016 in the desert outside of las Vegas, NV.  YDIM - a company that has been providing networking services to large music festivals for many years used equipment from AU Wireless inventory to bring 300 Mbps of Internet connectivity to the festival.

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