Questions about Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP)

Discussion in 'Wireless Internet' started by Charlie Hoffpauir, Mar 7, 2015.

  1. I've had WISP service for a couple of years, and a few days ago called
    them to get a few questions about the service answered. But all I got
    from them was a runaround.... the guy on the other end of the phone
    line seemed very knowledgeable about their service, but couldn't or
    wouldn't give me a straight answer to any of my questions.... so I
    thought I'd post here. Maybe some WISP provide who doesn't have me as
    a potential "loss" customer can give some answers.

    First, the situation.
    My WISP offers two levels of service, up to 3 Mbps and up to 5 Mbps. I
    started with 3, and after a few months upped it to 5 (which costs
    twice as much). With the 5 Mbps service, I really did occasionally see
    5 Mbps speeds, but usually less than 3, sometimes less than 1. So my
    first questions was: When I'm only getting 1 Mbps on my 5 Mbps
    service, what are the people who are on 3 Mbps getting?

    After much assurances that the speed decrease was only temporary and
    I'd soon see faster service, but no answer to the question. I asked
    him another question: How do they control that I never get more than
    5, and how those other users never get more than 3? He wouldn't answer
    that either. I was trying to determine if when multiple users all
    loaded the system so that my average speed was only 1 Mbps.... was
    everyone else (who are paying only half as much) also getting 1 Mbps?

    Because I couldn't get an answer, I decided to switch back to 3 Mbps
    service and save $50/month. So far that's what I'm on (less than a
    month so far) and speed still runs somewhere between 1 and 3 Mbps,
    depending on day of the week and time of day, so I figure the system
    is still heavily overloaded.

    So, anyone know how this works in overloaded WISPs? Any comments or
    links to information are appreciated.
    Charlie Hoffpauir, Mar 7, 2015
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  2. I don't know.
    Before my WISP was bought out, the service techs always told me there wasn't enough bandwidth for anyone, no matter what plan they were on, so no good to upgrade.

    Now since they were bought out I've been told with this new equip I can get higher speeds. There have been three service calls scheduled and they haven't been able to make one yet.

    Now my internet isn't even working. I had to activate a smart phone to get internet, until it's fixed, or upgraded.

    By the end of this month I'll either have it working, or have a new WISP.
    4g might be better than what I have now from Fuego wireless, or maybe a hotspot from Virgin mobile, that way I can take it any where.
    Lord Bergamont, Mar 7, 2015
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  3. I've also tried using my cell phone, tethered, to get an internet
    connection with decent speed. The only downside to that is the high
    cost of the cell-provided data.
    Charlie Hoffpauir, Mar 8, 2015
  4. Charlie Hoffpauir

    Adair Bordon Guest

    Charlie Hoffpauir wrote, on Sat, 07 Mar 2015 15:47:48 -0600:
    I am on a WISP who does not throttle, and each of us gets
    a different speed up and down (even though it's supposed to
    be symmetric).

    Everything depends on what the rooftop radio "sees".

    For example, here is what my rooftop radio sees right now:

    Notice my noise level is pretty high at -86dBm (that's very
    high, but there's a reason for that). My neighbors are in
    the 90's range, which means they have a better signal to
    noise ratio.

    On the other hand, notice my signal strength is fantastic,
    at -51dBm (which is pretty good even though the WISP antenna
    is miles away). This is probably the biggest determinant,
    and the closer this gets to noice, the worse you'll get.

    Also notice my signal quality isn't all that great at 83%.
    You may also notice my channel is at 11 but we'd have to
    look at the noise at that level (which can be gotten by
    a noise spectrograph in the tools menu at upper right).

    There are a LOT more things to look at (tons more), but,
    these are starters.
    Adair Bordon, Mar 8, 2015
  5. Charlie Hoffpauir

    Sunshine Guest

    Sunshine, Mar 8, 2015
  6. Charlie Hoffpauir

    Tony Cito Guest

    Lord Bergamont wrote, on Sat, 07 Mar 2015 16:52:52 -0600:
    What you say the older guys told you is sheer bullshit.
    What you say the newer guys are telling you is correct.

    The speeds are dependent only on three things.
    1. The WISP equipment (and aiming at you)
    2. YOUR equipment (and distance from the WISP)
    3. The environment

    The WISP can have faster routers, more powerful radios,
    antennas aimed more directly at you, throughput throttling,
    bandwidth loading, and many other issues, all of which money
    can solve with better newer faster more powerful equipment.

    You can do the same thing, by investing in a more powerful
    antenna, selecting the best channel, aiming at the primary
    lobe of the WISP antenna, eliminating items in the Fresnel
    zone, etc.

    You have to deal with the noise of the environment, and
    where LOS obstructions are a fact of life.
    Tony Cito, Mar 8, 2015
  7. OK, I appreciate the comments, however, I don't think my system is
    like either the forum Sunshine recommends (Ubiquiti) or what Adair is
    referring to. The hardware that my WISP uses is Motorola, and from
    pictures on their web site, I think it's Canopy. I have no idea what
    frequency they are on, but I can't see any way to get charts like
    Sunshine has, not any way to directly access what my radio or antenna
    are getting. There's no way to install a separate antenna, either...
    it's just all in that plastic device. FWIW, it looks like all the
    hardware is in one square antenna-like plastic container mounted on my
    OTA antenna mast. Cat5 cable runs down from that to a box mounted near
    the ground which appears to be nothing but a lightning protection.
    Power over ethernet box connects just before the cat 5 goes to my
    router. I say square, but it's mounted diamond-like, corners up and
    down. My local (personal) WiFi is on channel 11, and neighbors on 4,
    6, and, 9.... Nothing like a WiFi signal being broadcast by the WISP.
    (All the neighbors are also on the WISP). My cell phone WiFi analyzer
    doesn't see any WiFi signals that could be coming from anywhere other
    than the neighbors I mentioned.
    Charlie Hoffpauir, Mar 9, 2015
  8. Charlie Hoffpauir

    ps56k Guest

    wonder where you are located -
    we have a local WISP using Canopy - western burbs of Chicago -
    with the base stations up on the local water towers around town.
    ps56k, Mar 9, 2015
  9. Charlie Hoffpauir

    Sunshine Guest

    You have to log into the radio. Out here, all of us can log into our
    radios since we bought them ourselves and installed them ourselves.

    From that radio, we can get all the metrics (and far more than what
    I showed you), all of which will affect your latency & throughput.

    We simply pay the WISP for our signal and for him to maintain his
    equipment on the top of the mountains nearby.

    So, if you don't have access to this information, you're tremendously
    hamstrung in what you can do. It's like trying to time a car without
    a timing light. There's not much you can do except twist the
    radio & antenna back and forth (which I don't recommend you do)
    like we used to do with TV antennas.
    Sunshine, Mar 9, 2015
  10. Charlie Hoffpauir

    Sunshine Guest

    I'm only familiar with Ubuqiti equipment, but, from your description,
    that's likely a low gain radio & antenna as a high-gain one would be bigger
    than you're intimating, and very often has a separate antenna (usually
    a dish but it could be a sector antenna).

    Low gain is just fine, if you don't need gain (you have better spread
    with the low-gain antenna so the WISP doesn't have to aim directly
    at you, for example), but, if you need decibels, then you need higher
    gain equipment.

    However, you don't know WHAT you need (since speed is a function of
    a whole bunch of factors); you're really missing a LOT of decision
    making data like the type I showed you (and lots more).

    There's no way you can debug without this information, so, you're
    pretty much stuck on what the WISP tells you.
    Sunshine, Mar 9, 2015
  11. Charlie Hoffpauir

    Sunshine Guest

    You definitely don't want to be on the same channel as the WISP,
    and, if you're lucky, the WISP is on either 5GHz or 900MHz or
    some other non-2.5GHz frequency.

    My WISP is on both 5GHz and 2.5GHz so I plan on buying a 5GHz
    antenna and radio (Ubiquiti Rocket M5) which will DOUBLE my speeds
    just by that one purchase (remember, my WISP doesn't throttle).

    So, for me, the EQIPMENT is everything.
    I started with a Bullet HP M2 and I got about 2Mbps symmetric.
    I used to have a Nanobridge M2 - and I got about 4Mbps symmetric.
    Then I replaced it with a Rocket M2- and I got 10Mbps instantly.
    I expect around 20Mbps or so with the Rocket M5.

    If throttling isn't a factor, then you buy the BEST equipment you
    can afford (they're cheap nowadays, about $250 for the antenna
    and radio and J-mast) and your speeds are directly related to that.

    Of course, you need to AIM at the WISP (which is one of the metrics
    you need to check, since out here, radios spin in 100mph wind gusts).

    And, as always, you need to be on the least noisy channel.

    If I get a chance, I'll post a noise spectrograph of all the radio
    interference, which is more than just WiFI since it includes microwaves
    and baby monitors and whatever is on the spectrum whatsoever).
    Sunshine, Mar 9, 2015
  12. Charlie Hoffpauir

    Adair Bordon Guest

    Charlie Hoffpauir wrote, on Sun, 08 Mar 2015 19:54:45 -0500:
    Best free software for that is InSSIDer, which used to be free
    (dunno if it's still free but I think they crossed the line recently).

    It won't find all interference, but it will list the Wifi-only
    Adair Bordon, Mar 9, 2015
  13. All the equipment is provided free, by my WISP. There is no way for me to access data of how it's working.

    They usually do something to the WAP, at the tower to get it working, after they check data on my radio.

    The antenna and radio are separate. They supposedly ordered and received some new equipment to install, but keep calling to reschedule while I'm waiting at my house for them to get here.

    It's an unlimited data plan. Over the years I've slacked off on how much I use it. They shouldn't have any complaints about how much I use.

    I would like to be able to watch Hulu and pay per view without it starting and stopping, time after time, until I give up trying. Netflix and Acorn tv usually always work good. PBS usually has problems.

    If I get Fuego wireless 4g the max is 3 meg and it's unlimited, with no purchase of equipment and no install charge.

    I have Rhino communications now. They have service in Chicago area and down into Texas where I am. They cover much of central USA.

    We don't have to worry much about trees blocking signal around here.
    Lord Bergamont, Mar 9, 2015
  14. Charlie Hoffpauir

    Sunshine Guest

    Yeah. I know. That's how *most* WISPs work.
    That severely limits the information you will have to debug.

    Hint: Your equipment isn't free. You probably paid $400 or so for an
    installation (or you pay a monthly rental fee of some sort).

    I paid about $250 for my equipment (although I've bought 3 radios,
    and I plan on buying another, so, in essence, I've paid a lot more,
    but, I know that I double my speeds by a one-time investment in
    a radio & antenna (I re-use the Ethernet cable).

    Most (but not all) WISPs here, in the Silicon Valley, let us *own*
    & *install* & *setup* our own equipment. So we have total control.

    Yeah. I know. They could simply be throttling you. It could be an
    aiming issue. They can log into your radio and change your power
    output. They can change the channel you're on or that they're on.
    They can re-align their antenna. They can switch you to a different
    (less loaded access point), etc. (They can do scores of things.)
    Just remember, the more powerful your equipment, the better signal
    strength you have (over noise), which gives you better throughput
    (all else being equal). If you need a decibel, you're always better
    off with an antenna decibel over a transmitter decibel (because it
    works both ways); so, get the best *antenna* you can get.
    Yeah. That's how most out here are. The only ones out here that
    limit the data are the satellite providers, which is understandable
    and they're not WISP anyway. Nobody else limits data out here.
    It's not you, but, collectively, the "rush-hour" traffic that they
    need to plan for. That happens sporadically during the day, but
    one time would be when everyone comes home for the evening.

    Try to see what your speeds are at 3am. Mine double at 3am from
    what they are at 3pm (remember, I'm not throttled, so, I share
    bandwidth with all my neighbors, the bastards!). :)
    It's all about throughput. Go to or, and report back what your throughput is.

    Here's a screenshot of mine run just now to compare it to.

    (My WISP speeds will be slow because it's the middle of the day,
    but they are 20ms, 17.56Mbps down, and 16.26Mbps up).
    I don't use them so I can't advise you there, but, sometimes it's
    on your side, and sometimes it's their servers that are clogged up.
    I can't imagine using cellular as my AP and I have a cellular
    repeater from the telco in my window (because I complained I wasn't
    getting the 4G/LTE speeds - so they sent a repeater for free).

    Even with the repeater, I wouldn't use cellular since it has
    to go through the phone. I don't know much about it, but, that
    seems limiting to me. Jeff Liebermann would know more.
    Out here, they're all one-man shops. Small companies. Only useful
    in the mountains, as the Silicon Valley has cable everywhere in
    the flats.
    Yeah. You're lucky. We have mountains so, we can see for 20 miles
    in all directions, so, the trees only hamper us when they're close.

    Good luck.
    Post your speedtest results.
    Sunshine, Mar 9, 2015
  15. My location is in a wooded area, about 50 miles south of Houston, TX.
    But the WISP has a pretty large service area south of Houston. They
    used to have a map, but apparently it's not displaying now, but they
    list a lot of small towns, all more-or-less south of Houston. Here's a
    link to their web site:
    They have multiple transmission towers near the small towns, the one
    I'm on is about 1/4 mile south of me, but as I said, it's very wooded.

    FWIW, one technician who checked my equipment at the house said there
    we 93 users on the AP that I was on.... but the technician on the
    phone said that was wrong... he wouldn't say how many, but continued
    to deny the 93 number. (Maybe because there are more?)

    I Googled Canopy and read a bit about it on Wikipedia, and they
    mentioned that customers could query the status of their subscriber
    module by viewing URL .... I tried that but got
    the webpage not available message. I'm not even sure that the system
    that my WISP is using is Canopy, since the Wiki article mentioned that
    Motorola had sold the Canopy business in 2011, and the devices on my
    system clearly have the Motorola "M" on them.
    Charlie Hoffpauir, Mar 9, 2015
  16. Charlie Hoffpauir

    Sunshine Guest

    We have about 20 on an access point.

    Dunno if 93 is a lot or not, because everything depends on the
    equipment and backhaul...

    That's something you an ask the forums.
    Sunshine, Mar 9, 2015
  17. Wrong....... No install charge, no monthly rental fee.

    For many years, I was charged $41.11 per month. Now the price has gone up to $43.26 per month.

    I'll get back to some of those other points later.
    Lord Bergamont, Mar 9, 2015
  18. Charlie Hoffpauir

    Adair Bordon Guest

    Lord Bergamont wrote, on Mon, 09 Mar 2015 17:48:49 -0500:
    Good for you.

    Normally, out here, they charge from $300 to $400 for the install,
    and, basically, they barely can break even, given what half a day
    costs them and given the equipment costs more than half that.

    Of course, if we do our own install (which most of us do), then,
    like you, we're not charged anything. We have to give the WISP
    our password, as he logs in periodically, but we have full control
    of the radio (which is a router in and of itself).

    Given we do our own install, we generally do a good job, routing
    the wires, stapling them down, securing the antenna, etc.
    Adair Bordon, Mar 9, 2015
  19. Charlie Hoffpauir

    ps56k Guest

    do you have just the small Canopy "pencil box" sized unit mounted ?

    OR -
    the dish AND the Canopy "pencil box" at the focal point as per your WISP faq
    ps56k, Mar 10, 2015
  20. Charlie Hoffpauir, Mar 11, 2015
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