ISP of the Month: Chief Se’khu of RedFi Broadband 

RedFi Broadband

“My tribe’s need for internet when Covid dropped is why RedFi exists to this day,” says Chief Se’khu Hadjo Gentle. Chief Se’khu, 48, founded RedFi Broadband in 2020 to ensure that his tribe, the Yamassee people in Allendale, South Carolina, could access telehealth services.  

Chief of the Yamassee Indian Tribe

Chief Se’khu has held many titles, including director, writer, cinematographer, WISP Owner, historian, and even firefighter. In fact, he was on-call at his reservation’s fire station during his interview with the Vilo team. 

“I’m always trying to give my time to the community as much as possible,” he said over Zoom. “So if the tones drop, which is them telling us there’s a 911 call, I may have to do the interview en route” he laughed. 

Of all of his titles, it’s clear that “Chief” is the most important to him. After dispelling Hollywood’s portrayal of chiefs, Chief Se’khu explained, “Chiefs, true chiefs, are not leaders at all; they’re actually servants. So I’m the servant first of my people. I’m the voice of my people.”  

His people, the Yamassee Indian Tribe, was thought to be extinct. According to the Chief, historians and genealogists recently investigated their ancestry and found that the Yamassee people had merely been renamed and reclassified as the “Seminole” people.  

“My jurisdiction as Chief is wherever my people are,” he added. Most of the Yamassees reside in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.  

RedFi Broadband and reliable internet during Covid

RedFi Broadband was founded on Chief Se’khu’s devotion to his people. In 2020, when the Covid pandemic reached South Carolina and the elders of his tribe were unable to go to the doctors and the children couldn’t attend school, Chief Se’khu knew he had to take action. 

“That put me in a position where my leadership skills had to kick in,” he recalls. “I can’t wait and depend on a government agency or someone else to do it for us. That’s never how we have been as native people.” 

Before starting RedFi Broadband, Chief Se’khu ran a telecommunications store front for his tribe. Though he knew how to run cable and follow instructions to set up another company’s equipment, he knew very little about running his own internet services. And with the added internet demands during Covid, the service they had at the time “was not cutting it.” 

Chief Se’khu recalls studying YouTube videos to learn how to set up his own WISP. With the help of his mother and wife, RedFi Broadband was successfully providing internet to eight customers by the end of their first year. Today, RedFi has nine part-time employees, most of whom are the Chief’s fellow firefighters, and provides internet access to over 300 customers covering roughly 10-square miles.  

RedFi provides internet at no expense to a large portion of its customers, as Allendale is an impoverished area with nearly a 40% poverty rate according to the latest Census data. “So a lot of people here can’t necessarily afford internet, especially the elders,” Chief Se’khu explains.  

RedFi and the WISP community

Chief Se’khu attributes a lot of RedFi’s growth to knowledge and confidence he gained from being in the WISP community. “I have seen the smartest people in the WISP industry that I have ever seen in my life. The WISP community and smaller ISPs do things that larger ISPs can’t even fathom—with all of the creative ideas to get the job done.” 

It hasn’t been smooth sailing for RedFi Broadband, though. In April 2022, an EF-3 tornado tore through Allendale, damaging several properties and destroying a large portion of RedFi’s equipment in the process. Chief Se’khu remains grateful to the members of the WISP community who came to his peoples’ aid shortly thereafter.  

“People in the WISP community started giving us equipment, and no one asked for any money.” he began. “And Vilo came in and donated as many [routers] as we needed. They donated whatever we asked for. That is important at the end of the day, because if you’re going to do business with a company, do business with a company that cares.”  

Chief Se’khu’s experience with Vilo

Chief Se’khu first discovered Vilo when a friend introduced him to our affordable routers. “When you’re in an impoverished area like we are here, I can’t go to these people and say, ‘Hey, here’s a $400 mesh system that you need to have to make sure your house is covered,” he said. 

When his first 3-pack of Vilos arrived, he was using a Linksys router at the time that was connected to RedFi’s fiber head-in near his office. “With the Linksys router, I was probably getting about 120 Mbps down, and I thought that was great at the time. When I installed the Vilo router, I instantly jumped to 400 Mbps. And I’m like, ‘Okay, hold-up, what is this?’ And so it sparked my interest.” 

From that sparked interest, Chief Se’khu became one of Vilo’s earliest beta testers and loved how all the ideas he suggested to Vilo’s cofounders were not only welcomed, but often implemented. “No other company is working with the WISP community the way Vilo is,” he said. “I’ve watched Vilo actively shift and change based on the advice of their customers—people like me, and that says wonders. It says they’re in it for the long-game.” 

In the early days of RedFi, the Chief ran into challenges such as a lack of visibility into his customers’ networks and the ability to remotely manage them. “We were installing routers that we had no control over, and had no insights on, so Vilo helped us with that hurdle because now we’re able to monitor our customers’ networks—we’re able to manage their experiences through the ISP portal.” 

Chief Se’khu also noted how invaluable analytic insights are for an ISP. “Being able to go into the customer’s accounts, having the numbers and the information, which is what Vilo offers, plays such a large role in making business decisions,” he explained.  

The future of RedFi and the Chief’s advice

RedFi also provides security cameras and alarm system services. Moving forward, Chief Se’khu plans on expanding RedFi’s reach into more rural areas and to be “a one-stop shop for anything that connects to the internet.”  

His intention to expand, again, is motivated by his commitment to his people. As Allendale is an hour and a half away from the nearest large city, providing every internet-related service possible alleviates the high costs of having technicians commute all that way. 

With gratitude for all he has learned from his fellow WISP owners, Chief Se’khu offered this piece of advice in return: “Don’t rush. Take your time and think outside the box.”  

When he began researching what it took to start a WISP, Chief Se’khu believed that heighth was key; that he needed a 120 ft. tower. “That wasn’t the case,” he said, “I’m able to get to whatever location I need using micropops; I’m on the ground, I’m only 20 ft. in the air. So don’t rush, take your time, plan it out so you can do it right the first time and not have to do it over again.” 

Discover Vilo’s ISP solutions! 

Vilo Living provides complete Wi-Fi hardware and remote management solutions that empower ISPs of any size to delight your customers, reduce your operating costs, and grow your business. Schedule a demo today! 

Schedule a demo

Best Practices: Installing Vilo in MDU Spaces

Installing Vilo in MDU spaces

The purpose of this guide is to provide best practices, suggestions, and prerequisites to be aware of when installing Vilos in multiple dwelling units such as apartments, hotels, condos, etc. While we lack POE support and an official Vilo-licensed wall-mount, we believe our hardware and software are primed for installation in these environments. 

How can this help you and your customers?

We’ve introduced multiple features to help maximize your time when it comes to the installation process. Utilizing our remote configuration suite in combination with our separate pre-mesh feature, ISPs can complete most of the leg work prior to installing Vilos on-site at a customer’s home. Once the Vilo has been configured, it can be installed remotely (as long as you are using a DHCP configuration and the firmware is on version 19, and the Vilo is plugged in and connected to the modem via the WAN port).

Pre-Setup & Installation

This section will help prepare you for the installation process:

  1. Be sure to scan all Vilos into the Vilo inventory. We suggest doing this as soon as you get your inventory.
  2. If the firmware version of the Vilo is lower than v197, you will need to manually install the Vilo via the app. This must be completed to configure Vilos remotely.  
  3. If you are using a DHCP configuration, our remote configuration feature allows you to set up a Vilo network with a Custom SSID and password prior to installation, eliminating the need for the Vilo app. You can do this for multiple Vilos using our Bulk Actions option. 
  4. If you are using PPPoE or Static IP, the remote configuration feature will not be an option. We suggest setting up the Vilos in a testing environment first when upgrading the firmware, eliminating the need to be completed once on site. With the Vilos scanned into inventory and the firmware up to date, this will cut back on installation times so that end-users can connect to the network without first having to wait for the firmware upgrade to complete. Other bulk actions that may be useful:
    1. Assign: You can use our assign function from the inventory page to associate routers with customers created on the Customers Page. This is exclusive to the portal and only serves as an organizational feature. It is not the same as assigning a network to a customer from the app, allowing them to download the Vilo App and manage the network themselves.
    2. Update Note: The “Update Note” feature allows you to create notes for different Mac addresses, such as addresses or customer information that you may find on the customer’s page. 

Scenarios & Reminders

This section will provide helpful reminders, as well as scenarios to keep in mind:

  • If you opted for one network that is shared between multiple customers, we suggest adding additional sub-Vilos where necessary to meet coverage demands. Reminder: Setting up a network in this particular scenario would disallow service for everyone on the network. The only workaround would be to block connected devices of the customers who have not paid. 
  • If you opted to install a single network per unit (hotel room, apartment, etc), then we suggest optimizing the Wi-Fi to address any Wi-Fi interference issues that may arise. This can be done in the Vilo ISP Portal or the Vilo App
  • While there is no official Vilo wall mount, we encourage the use of third-party options to get around this. Below is one example of a third-party wall mount provider.
These Vilo wall mounts were 3D-printed by Brian Gregory. For ordering and pricing information, email Brian at gregory3dcreations@gmail.com.

Post-Setup: Wi-Fi Networks & Bulk Actions

This section will cover the different ways in which our portal can help you manage your customers after installation. 

While there are more individual settings that can be viewed by clicking into each network, our bulk actions provide a list of tools to help with network maintenance and troubleshooting, while also making it easy to disallow service if necessary:

  • Network maintenance: Upgrade Firmware, Turn on/off Automatic Firmware Upgrade
  • Troubleshooting: Run Speed Test, Restart Vilos (Optimizes Wi-Fi networks) 
  • Billing issues: Allow/Disallow Internet Access  

Upcoming features:

  • VLAN Support
  • Setup Without Internet Connection

With more awareness of how our Vilo ISP Portal can help decrease installation times for MDU setups, we hope these best practices can help you reach more customers in less time, increasing your user base while ensuring your customers have hardware and service they can rely on.

Discover Vilo’s ISP solutions! 

Vilo Living provides complete Wi-Fi hardware and remote management solutions that empower ISPs of any size to delight your customers, reduce your operating costs, and grow your business. Schedule a demo today! 

Schedule a demo

Three CPE installation tips from TurnkeyISP’s David Dean

Three CPE installation tips

Installing customer premise equipment (CPE) is an essential part of providing internet services. There are so many variables when it comes to installations, though—everything from the equipment itself to the terrain internet service providers (ISPs) must navigate.

Since no two scenarios are alike, it is difficult to list universally applicable tips. But for someone like TurnkeyISP CEO David Dean, who has been in the industry for a decade and has taken part in over 7,000 internet installations, there’s a deep enough well of experience to draw at least three widely applicable best practices.  

“This is what I’m doing right now: I’m walking on a roof and I’m looking for towers.” As luck would have it, David was in the middle of an installation when he answered the phone to chat with the Vilo team about CPE installation practices. 

David founded three companies in the wireless internet service provider (WISP) industry; Sundial Communications in 2014, ISPApp in 2019, and TurnkeyISP in 2020. The latter is a fully remote ISP call center and remote staffing agency that focuses on helping smaller ISPs “scale up [their] business while maintaining the responsive and friendly customer service that made [them] successful.”  

David also built TurnkeyISP’s “on-demand remote support teams,” to remotely assist WISP installation crews. So, from the man himself, here are three best practices for installing CPE. 

Photos from a TurnkeyISP installation in Alaska.

1. The internet installer position is key 

While it may sound obvious to say, David emphasized the importance of having a competent internet installer. “The internet installer position seems like a pretty easy position, but it’s not,” David says. “There are various aspects of the position.” 

David noted how an installer must be above average in several areas including work ethic, physical abilities, technical knowledge, and customer service. “And individually those are all common,” he adds. “But when you combine all of those into a single person, it becomes actually a pretty rare set of traits.”  

If an installer is lacking in any aspect, crucial components could be missed, and the risk of dissatisfying customers increases, so it’s imperative to have a pro fill the role. 

2. Make the installer’s job as easy as possible 

Since proficient installers are hard to come by, David notes how their rarity makes them expensive, which leads us to our second best practice: Make the installer’s job as easy as possible. David was adamant that “anything that can be done remotely, should be done remotely.” This frees up your local team to work on the physical tasks and not be encumbered by auxiliary tasks. 

Explaining how this principle applies to tower top-hands too, he continues, “Anything that can be done on the ground, should be done on the ground.” Lightening the load of the tower top-hand helps them focus on what they are supposed to do.  

“And if it doesn’t need to be done at all, then don’t do it,” he laughs.

Automation is another excellent way to make the installer’s job easier. On the topic of automation, David mentioned Vilo’s appealing “plug and play” component and how it eliminates certain steps for the installer.  

“WISPs are using 5 GHz frequencies to bring internet to the property,” he says, “and if Vilo Living can separate the channels automatically—wireless backhauling within the mesh system without stepping on the wireless feed—there’s value in that because right now, most installers have that as one more step that they have to accomplish. So they have to set the local Wi-Fi to not step on the internet feed.” 

3. Understand what makes smaller ISPs special 

The third best practice doesn’t involve any sort of physical ‘how-to’ nor is it about promoting a specific product. Instead, David focuses on the intrinsic side of being a smaller ISP. “This is the most important thing,” he says, “and that is helping WISPs understand why they’re special.” 

When it comes to providing internet, mainstream ISPs like Comcast, Starlink, and T-Mobile have standardized everything. “So the role of the installer in Comcast is to go from point A to point B with a cable and plug in some equipment,” says David. 

“In the case of Starlink and T-Mobile, they ship you a box and hope it works. It’s called ‘best effort’ service,” he added. “They’ll say, ‘if it works, great. If it doesn’t work, oh well; we tried. We gave it our best effort.’” 

“But with wireless internet service providers, we’re engineering each connection, so that allows us to have guarantees that it’s going to work,” he continued.  

In contrast to larger ISPs, David says that the “WISP industry does what it takes to make sure your internet service works. They provide a fully engineered wireless connection. They survey your property to figure out where they can best provide service to your property, and then they do a professional installation and they make sure that it works and it’s fully supported.” 

“[And that’s] what WISPs can do to beat T-Mobile, Starlink, and Comcast,” he concludes. 

Recap

When it comes to CPE internet installations, David Dean recommends hiring the best of the best for the installer position, making their job as easy as possible, and internalizing what sets WISPs and smaller ISPs apart from their bigger competitors—providing service where others can’t because they are willing to do what it takes to make sure their subscribers have reliable, high-speed internet service.

To learn more about how Vilo’s mesh Wi-Fi solutions can make your installations faster and easier, click here!

Discover Vilo’s ISP solutions! 

Vilo Living provides complete Wi-Fi hardware and remote management solutions that empower ISPs of any size to delight your customers, reduce your operating costs, and grow your business. Schedule a demo today! 

Schedule a demo

Vilo News Digest for August 2022

Vilo News

Vilo made quite a splash on the world wide web this month! From back-to-school must-haves to top-rated picks of the year, our Wi-Fi mesh routers were featured in several publications. While we undoubtedly believe in our product, you don’t have to take our word for it, we’ve compiled a brief list of this month’s features so you can hear what the experts in the internet industry have to say about Vilo in this Vilo news digest. 

PCWorld: “Wi-Fi 5 vs. Wi-Fi 6 vs. Wi-Fi 6E: Which router should you pick? 

On August 1, PC World, a publication dedicated to “helping tech users of all experience levels get more from the hardware and software that’s central to a PC-centric universe,” published a guide for selecting the Wi-Fi router that’s right for you. Leading up to its mention of Vilo’s Wi-Fi 5 routers, PC World makes a case for why Wi-Fi 5 retains its utility despite the recent advances of Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E.  

“[T]here’s no inherent difference in reception range between Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6,” the article states, “so you may be able to get comparable coverage with a much cheaper router.” PC World also noted how “most of your devices probably still use Wi-Fi 5 anyways.” 

After mentioning how readers can buy a “Wi-Fi 5 mesh system from Vilo for $100,” the article states that Wi-Fi 5 routers may be preferable for readers who are looking to extend coverage or eliminate dead zones. “[B]uying the best Wi-Fi 5 system you can makes more sense than getting an inferior Wi-Fi 6 system in the same price range,” PC World concludes. 

The Brothers WISP Podcast: “Vilo Sponsor Introduction and Highlight 

This month marks Vilo’s first podcast feature! The Brothers WISP podcast is all about “WISP, networking, Mikrotik, and other related stuff,” and Vilo is now one of their proud sponsors. Two of Vilo’s co-founders, Amie Hsu and Man Zheng, chatted with Brothers WISP host Tommy Croghan about Vilo’s ISP solutions. 

Before jumping into the nitty-gritty, Hsu offered a basic summary of what Vilo does, from its Wi-Fi 5 Mesh routers to its remote management portal for ISPs and Vilo’s subscriber-facing app. She also hinted at the development of Wi-Fi 6 routers at Vilo. One of the first questions the hosts asked about Vilo’s routers was how many can mesh in a single network. 

“We say theoretically, no more than eight nodes per network,” Hsu responds, “otherwise you might start to see degradation.” One Seattle-based WISP who was on the show asked if the same mesh capacity counted for routers that were wired together, to which Zheng clarified that there should still be a cap at eight routers per network, even if wired.  

To hear all the interesting questions and responses, be sure to check out the full podcast below!

PC Mag: “The Best Wi-Fi Mesh Network Systems for 2022 

Technically, this one came out in late July, but we were thrilled to see PC Mag mention us in their list for the best Wi-Fi mesh systems of the year! John R. Delaney, a PC Mag contributor with over 14 years of experience in the tech industry, most recently as the Director of Operations for PC Labs, wrote candidly about Vilo’s value. 

“If you need to fill in Wi-Fi dead zones but don’t have the money for a mesh system that uses the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology,” writes Delaney, “the Vilo Mesh Wi-Fi system will get the job done.” While he seemed unenthusiastic about Vilo not offering routers with Wi-Fi 6 technology (yet), Delaney was impressed with Vilo’s affordability and how easy it is to use. 

“At just under $60, the Vilo Mesh Wi-Fi System is the most affordable three-piece mesh system we’ve tested,” he writes. “[I]t is very easy to install and manage, offers good range, and comes with parental controls that let you schedule internet access times and allow or disallow internet access for any device.” 

Daily Mom: “24 Must-Have Back To School Supplies To Kick-Start Their Year 

Daily Mom is “a parent portal for women who are looking for information and education.” In their list of the most necessary school supplies for the 2022-2023 school year, they mention everything from Jurassic Park-themed notebooks to an LED study lamp. But second on their list is Vilo’s Wi-Fi Mesh router.  

After noting that back to school means multiple family members using devices to do homework simultaneously, Daily Mom warns about slow internet speeds and crowded signals. “Thanks to the Vilo Mesh Wi-Fi System,” the blog reads, “you won’t have to worry about internet loss or buffering!”  

In addition to whole home coverage and the ability to connect up to 120 devices with Vilo’s 3-pack, Daily Mom highlighted the Vilo App’s parental controls. “Parents, you’ll love the provided [app that allows] you to control the amount of screen time your kids can have each day. […] This is a critical item on your list of back to school supplies!” 

Digital Trends: “The best mesh Wi-Fi systems for 2022 

Vilo landed another feature on a publication’s top Wi-Fi mesh systems of the year on August 11, when Digital Trends published their picks for 2022. Digital Trends, the largest independent technology publisher in the world, prefaces their Wi-Fi mesh list by asserting it represents “the best on the market today.” 

Digital Trends highlighted our Wi-Fi 5 mesh system’s compact design, multiple ethernet ports, easy setup and intuitive app, and affordability when explaining why Vilo is one of the best on the market. “Like its more expensive competitors,” writes Digital Trends, “Vilo’s system benefits from an easy-to-use app that you will use to set up the network, establish parental controls, and create a guest network.” 

“Vilo’s app appears to be more advanced than some others on the list,” the article states before citing our app’s parental controls feature. One of the last benefits Digital Trends includes is Vilo’s firmware updates that download in the background “to ensure that everything runs smoothly.” 

Wi-Fi NOW: “Introducing Vilo: ISP-managed mesh Wi-Fi can be both affordable – and effective 

Another exciting feature from late July came from Wi-Fi NOW, “the world’s leading Wi-Fi event, news, and advisory organisation.” Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman, writes, “Seattle-based startup Vilo is taking on established Wi-Fi giants with a whole-home solution that uniquely combines affordability with manageability – and the platform is already making waves, specifically among WISPs.” 

Wi-Fi NOW’s piece reads like a news article as opposed to a product review blog. Hetting even mentions Vilo’s founders, Jessie Zhou, Amie Hsu, and Man Zheng, and how they formed Vilo as a solution to home Wi-Fi problems. He further recounts how we really hit our stride when Vilo shifted focus to partnering with smaller ISPs.  

Emblematic of Vilo’s partnership with ISPs is our product roadmap. Hetting notes how “anyone can comment or request new features” on Vilo’s trello board, where Internet Service Providers’ needs meet Vilo’s ongoing development of solutions.  

The Wi-Fi NOW CEO ends the article with an exciting announcement: Wi-Fi NOW’s partnership with Vilo. “Jessie and her partners are the kinds of people who make the world go around because they delight in creating and competing,” writes Hetting. “And they understand that technology and business innovation comes in many forms. We look forward to working with Vilo to promote and showcase their innovative Wi-Fi solutions.” 

To stay up to date with the latest Vilo news, like our pages on LinkedIn and Facebook, and follow us on Instagram @viloliving. If you’re an ISP curious to know how Vilo can help you accelerate your business, you can visit our “Vilo for ISPs” page by clicking here.  

August Webinar Recap: Maximizing Revenue from Your Subscribers 

maximize revenue with Vilo

From towers to access points and everything in between, your network makes you money. So why not have Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) make you money as well? In this month’s Vilo Webinar, we dive deep into how to maximize revenue with Vilo’s App, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) Portal, and the CPE that your subscribers interact with the most—their routers. 

Guest appearances include John Gill, owner of Kentucky Fi, a Kentucky-based Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP); and Adam Hart, Head of Operations & Sales at GETUS Communications, a Canada-based Third-Party Internet Provider (TPIA).  

Vilo Webinar August 2022: Maximizing revenue with Vilo

Vilo’s affordable products and services for ISPs 

When it comes to maximizing revenue, a good place to start is to reduce your initial set-up costs by choosing the affordable option: Vilo. Depending on your location and how many you order, Vilo routers can cost as low as $25.99 per unit. Buying at such affordable costs, especially when compared to other hardware providers, helps ISPs rapidly increase their return on investment (ROI). 

When he first discovered Vilo, John Gill of Kentucky Fi immediately recognized the product’s value, especially when compared to other vendors. “When you’re looking at an AC router that’s costing you $80, and then you’re getting a Vilo router that—a 3-pack is costing you $80, I put my money in the smart solution,” says Gill. 

Renting out additional units 

One of the easiest ways to maximize revenue is to upsell additional nodes for subscribers who want more coverage. We have seen a lot of success from our ISPs who offer the first router for free and then charge monthly fees for additional routers per their customers’ needs.  

At Kentucky Fi, John Gill gives all his customers their first Vilo mesh router for free. “That makes it so much easier when the customer calls and has problems with a TV or a back bedroom or something like that. It makes it so much easier for me to go, ‘Okay, we can add two more units to your house, it’s only an extra $10 a month—that’s it.’ And I just go in there, hit the mesh button, and I am in and out of their house in less than 30 minutes.” 

For ISPs who are hesitant to charge for the extra routers, Gill says, “not charging for the modem is not the way you will help out your customers or be better for your customer. The way you can help out your customer is by having better support, having a better network, having a more stable infrastructure than your competition.” 

Offer managed wi-fi services 

Your customers love having control over their connectivity, and the Vilo App gives them exactly that. The subscriber-facing app allows them to manage and monitor their own network, configure Parental Controls, set-up guest Wi-Fi, and more. Offering this service further supports the idea of monthly fees, as they are no longer just paying for a box, but a managed Wi-Fi solution. 

Vilo Webinar August 2022: Maximizing revenue with Vilo

Save on truck roll and support costs with the ISP Portal 

With the ISP Portal, you can run speed tests, reboot routers, view connected devices and their signal strengths and history, detect channel interference, and change channels, and push firmware upgrades. Explaining how he uses the portal daily, Gill says, “99% of the time, I know my customers having internet problems before they do.” By being able to troubleshoot and diagnose issues from the portal, ISPs can forego the truck roll costs. 

“We were able to identify, once we had a few [Vilo] units live, that our customers actually were not calling us for support,” explains Adam Hart of GETUS Communications. “But if they did, we were actually able to effectively help them in a faster time frame—which was cutting our talk times, reducing for support calls, and we’ve roughly seen around a 39% decrease in our customer support costs.” 

Brand credibility 

The more your subscribers trust you, the more business they will give you. The best way to cultivate that trust is by educating and communicating with your customers. Vilo’s here to help with that too by providing our Go-To-Market Kit that is chockfull of resources to our ISPs. The kit includes content for newsletters, social media posts, websites, and more.  

A true partner 

There is no better partner for ISPs than Vilo Living. Since Gill has partnered with Vilo, his ROI time has averaged between three to six months. “Vilo has become so good for my business that it’s truly the only router that I sell,” says Gill. 

Vilo Webinar August 2022: Maximizing revenue with Vilo
Vilo Webinar August 2022: Maximizing revenue with Vilo

At GETUS, Hart reports that on average, they are seeing ROI in two months. “Vilo is not just thinking of themselves, they’re thinking about everyone that partners with them,” he concludes. 

To learn more about why Vilo is the ideal ISP partner, click here. Vilo Living holds webinars bimonthly. To view this month’s webinar in its entirety, click here

WISP of the Month: Kyle Robinson of Vertrees Electronics

WISP of the Month Kyle Robinson

From microwaves to providing internet services 

“The middle of fricken nowhere,” is how, Kyle Robinson, 28, describes Vertrees, Kentucky. He and his wife moved there from Bardstown, Kentucky, the Bourbon Capitol of the World, after getting married in 2016. Though he still adores the “itty-bitty” town, he didn’t love the slow internet speeds there when he first arrived. 

“There was three megabit DSL provided by Windstream in Vertrees—absolutely horrible. I got really fed up with their poor speeds and I heard other complaints from my neighbors and everything,” Robinson recalls. “Prior to that, starting a WISP had never crossed my mind. Not once.” 

With ten years of commercial two-way radio, microwave engineering, and I.T. experience under his belt, Robinson decided to research what it would take to start his own internet company. As luck would have it, a friend from his old two-way radio shop had started a WISP himself. “So I started talking to him like, ‘what does it take to start a WISP, man?’” 

From that conversation, Robinson realized that starting a WISP would be easier than he thought. His first step was to find a commercial space to use for a data center and a head-in.  

“I knew I didn’t want to run it out of my house,” Robinson said, explaining that in order to grow his business, he wanted to appear bigger than he actually was at the time. “It’s all about perception,” he added. 

Luck would be on Robinson’s side again because, just as he moved into town, the school building next to him, which was already equipped with fiber cables, closed down and he knew the man who bought it.  

Vertrees Electronics CPE, photo provided by Kyle Robinson.

“So I called him and I said, ‘Look, here’s what I want to do, man. I want to start a business. I know there’s fiber in there. I want to put equipment on the roof so I can shoot to some other sites. And I want to use the old [main distribution frame] and computer lab upstairs.’ And basically, he looked at me and said, ‘go for it.’” 

After ripping out the building’s old I.T. infrastructure, taking out a $10,000 loan for new equipment, installing his own network infrastructure, and successfully connecting to fiber, Robinson was ready to provide internet. But for the first six months, he wanted to test the connection so he only provided internet for himself and his neighbor—who saw Robinson setting up a dish and jumped on the chance to be his first customer. 

“So for about six months it was just me and one other person on it, and it worked fantastic,” he recalls. “And then, you know, my whole neighborhood found out what I was doing and it almost exploded overnight in that area.” 

Within his first two months of officially opening Vertrees Electronics for business, Robinson gained 35 customers. Today, he has around 160 subscribers across 13 sites, covering nearly a quarter of Hardin County, Kentucky. Robinson attributes most of this growth to word-of-mouth advertising, having only spent money on some big bright yellow yard signs he posted around town and a few Facebook ads. 

One of Vertrees Electronics’ yellow signs, photo provided by Kyle Robinson.

Robinson is also a huge proponent of running a personable and responsive business. “One thing that really sets me apart from other companies,” he says, “is if somebody calls me, it doesn’t matter what time of day, you know, it doesn’t matter if it’s after business hours—if I see a voicemail for me, I call them back because you never know what opportunity might be there today.” 

Vertrees Electronics and Vilo Living 

Kyle Robinson became a partner with Vilo Living at the beginning of 2022 after his friend and fellow Kentucky WISP owner, John Gill, insisted he try Vilo’s Mesh Wi-Fi System. “So before Vilo, I tried every kind of router that existed for my customers. I mean, everything,” he says.  

“We tried TP-Links. We tried MikroTiks, and I never could find a good balance of something that was manageable from my end perspective of things, that was easy for me to set up [and] easy to pass control to the customer. And the biggest thing people want now is parental controls and things like that to turn off their child’s devices.” Robinson remembers wishing there was a set up similar Comcast’s Xfinity Home custom cable design but for WISPS, and that’s when Gill helped him discover Vilo Living

Right: Kyle Robinson (Wisp of the Month) of Vertrees Electronics. Left: Cam Lasley of Telecast Communications.

“And from the first time I tried Vilo, I was like, ‘Okay, this is all I’m buying for my customers.’ And now, this is the best thing since sliced bread,” he says, adding how easy Vilo’s system is to set up and manage. “I went through and ripped every old router out of any customer’s house and replaced them with Vilo—every one.” 

Robinson gives all his customers their first Vilo unit for free and gives them the option to expand by selling them additional routers should they need them. The option to expand combined with Vilo’s app and remote management system has made “all the difference in the world” for Vertrees Electronics. 

The ability to collaborate with Vilo on new features has also been a highlight of Robinson’s experience with the brand. “Vilo is the first company I’ve ever worked with in any industry that, when their users give them suggestions, they take it to heart and implement the suggestions. They are the first company I’ve ever worked with that you can say, ‘We want to see this feature,’ and boom, they have it implimented within just a few months time.” 

Vilo Living isn’t the only product that has made a world of difference for Robinson. He also swears by Gorilla Ladders—ladders that have A-frame and extension functions. Robinson was able to replace four different ladders with one 18’ Gorilla Ladder. “It has literally just made my life so easy,” he grins. 

Cody Thompson, a Vertrees Electronics employee replacing a damaged fiber cable, photo provided by Kyle Robinson.

Robinson plans on expanding Vertrees Electronics to service all the underserved rural parts of Southwest Hardin County and Northeast Grayson County. You can follow Vertrees Electronics on Facebook by clicking here, or check out Vertrees Electronic’s website by clicking here

Discover Vilo’s ISP solutions! 

Vilo Living provides complete Wi-Fi hardware and remote management solutions that empower ISPs of any size to delight your customers, reduce your operating costs, and grow your business. Schedule a demo today! 

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Work From Home trends for ISPs in 2022

Anticipating your subscribers' needs

With more and more people working from home (WFH), having efficient and reliable Wi-Fi has never been more crucial. Understanding current WFH trends will help Internet Service Providers (ISP) anticipate their subscribers’ needs and ultimately, provide the best possible service. 

The volume of Americans who work from home has dramatically increased since the onset of the pandemic. While it was merely a temporary adjustment for some, WFH has become a permanent practice for nearly half of the country’s workforce.  

According to Gartner, a technological research and consulting firm, 48% of employees will work remotely or follow a hybrid model in the post pandemic world. On a global scale, a 2022 study from Owl labs found that 62% of workers between the ages of 22 and 65 claim to work remotely at least occasionally. 

Your subscribers need Wi-Fi that can handle telecommunication demands 

Telecommunication services like Zoom, Slack, and RingCentral are integral to any business’s success in the WFH era. This is evident in the stark increase of video-based communication use. For example, at the end of 2019, Zoom only averaged 10 million daily users, but come mid-2020, the average amount of daily users shot up 300 million. 

Zoom became so ingrained in the day-to-day of America’s workforce that the New York Times listed “Zoom” as one of the phrases that defined 2020, and TIME listed “on mute” as one of 2020’s defining phrases, which denotes a person speaking while muted on a Zoom call. Long story short, Zoom and other video-based communication platforms are ubiquitous in the WFH era. 

So, what does this trend mean for ISPs? While it’s obvious that ISPs should ensure they’re offering Wi-Fi that can run the minimal rate of Mbps that video calls require, subscribers may not think to divulge all the necessary information. For instance, a subscriber who WFH may tell you they use Zoom daily but glance over the fact that they also need to run their browser to take notes or screen share during their calls. Getting these details from your subscribers is an important step to providing them with adequate connectivity while offering the lowest possible rates. 

The rise of the freelancers 

The pandemic not only catapulted America’s workforce out of the office and into their homes, but it also changed the landscape of employment. In fall of last year, Forbes reported that more than 59 million Americans had performed freelance work that year. That means that more than one-third of working citizens are independent contractors, most of whom rely on the internet for their labor.  

The bulk of these freelancers (75%) are artists. What does that mean for ISPs? Of course, most creative design software programs, like any one of Adobe’s applications, don’t require internet to operate. However, most freelancers have to upload their completed projects online in order to deliver them and ultimately get paid. That means that any freelancer working from home will require fast uploading times (unless they want to wait 22 hours for their Premiere Pro project to upload to Google Drive). 

On the flip side, high downloading speeds are equally important for freelancers. Creative applications periodically need to update, and it’s not uncommon for freelancers to collaborate on projects, which can require downloading files.  

Vilo Living for ISPs 

Understanding your subscriber’s specific needs is essential to providing unparalleled internet service. If you’re looking for a way to provide consistent Wi-Fi throughout a subscriber’s home so that they can work from their couch or their kitchen, Vilo Living’s Wi-Fi Mesh System is the most affordable mesh system on the market.  

Vilo Living’s ISP Portal allows ISPs to quickly check to see which devices are using the most bandwidth, which will come in handy if you have a subscriber trying to do freelance work in a home with Fortnite-playing kids. The Portal also gives you network insights so you can resolve certain issues without a truck roll. To learn more about how Vilo Living can help you accelerate your business, click here.  

Anticipating your subscribers’ needs in 2022 – Vilo Living’s Wi-Fi Mesh System

Five common misconceptions about home connectivity  

Five common misconceptions about home connectivity

Let’s say it’s five o’clock on a weekday—everyone’s home from work or school. To decompress, you all reach for your Wi-Fi devices of choice. But with everyone online all at once, the connection starts faltering. HBO Max keeps pausing to buffer, the PS5 game is lagging, and nothing’s loading on Instagram. In a scenario like this, the solution may not be to buy a more expensive router or pay for the fastest internet speed available. Every household’s internet needs will vary and finding the right fit for your home can be confusing. To help clear things up, we’ve compiled a list of five common misconceptions about home connectivity. 

1. I need the fastest internet possible 

When it comes to internet speed, faster is arguably better, but paying for unnecessarily high internet speeds means throwing money away every month. Internet speed, the time it takes for data to transfer from a server to your device, is measured by megabits per second (Mbps). Five to 10 Mbps will typically give you a smooth viewing experience with YouTube or Netflix. But if you want to stream something in 4k or HDR, your internet will need to operate at a minimum of 15 – 25 Mbps.  

The best place to start is assessing how many Wi-Fi devices are in frequent use in your household and what kind of tasks they perform. From there, you can estimate an appropriate speed for your home and avoid overpaying for frivolous megabits per second.  

There are plenty of online resources that can help you decipher your household’s optimal internet speed, like highspeedinternet.com’s “What is a good internet speed?” chart. 

2. A more expensive router means better connectivity 

And that brings us to the next common misconception: A more expensive router means better connectivity. Of course, this principle of higher prices equating to better services has never been a good rule of thumb, but especially not when it comes to internet services.  

If you’re getting the appropriate internet speed to your household and are still having issues with connectivity, a more expensive router won’t fix it, but a Wi-Fi Mesh system will. A Wi-Fi Mesh system uses several wirelessly connected routing devices to broadcast a Wi-Fi signal throughout an entire home. This consistent spread of signal eliminates dead spots and lets you roam free without having to connect to a different network or resort to using cell data. 

When it comes to Wi-Fi Mesh systems, Vilo Living is the best in the business, offering an excellent mesh system at an affordable cost. The Vilo App is also ideal for household connectivity as it lets users monitor their devices, has an intuitive parental control feature, and more.  

common misconceptions about home connectivity
Vilo Living’s Wi-Fi Mesh system eliminates dead spots and allows you to roam free.

3. My device won’t connect so it must be a problem with my internet  

Since routers represent the only physical manifestation of internet in your home, it’s easy to see them as the source of all connectivity-related problems. Another one of the common misconceptions about home connectivity for many internet users is that if their device won’t connect, it must be a problem with their internet. While there are scenarios where this might be the case, there are plenty potential issues you can resolve without having to contact your internet service provider (ISP). 

If you have a device that won’t connect to Wi-Fi, try focusing your efforts first on the device itself. Often the solution is as simple as turning the device off and back on. You can also reset your device’s network’s settings or have the device “forget” your Wi-Fi and reconnect a few seconds later.  

4. Bigger ISP brands means fewer complications 

Let’s face it, convenience sells. It’s why Starbucks made almost 30 billion USD last year—people don’t want the hassle of making their own cup of coffee. For consumers, the less complicated the better, and Wi-Fi is no exception. Many internet users don’t care to know what type of Wi-Fi they’re getting, and not even necessarily what speed—just as long as it works.  

That’s one of the reasons why so many internet users prefer ISPs they’re familiar with like COX, Comcast, and Xfinity. They know the name means they’ll get to watch Netflix and shop online. What many fail to consider, though, is that smaller ISPs offer the same, if not better network quality for more affordable prices.  

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of these smaller ISPs is that they offer more personable services. In other words, when you call your ISP with an internet issue, a real person will answer the phone. Forbes reported in 2019 that the majority of customers prefer speaking to a real person on the phone, as opposed to an automated assistant. While the prospect of having a personable internet service experience may be new to you, it will be a welcomed change of pace. 

5. All Wi-Fi is the same 

For many people, Wi-Fi is a mysterious invisible force that connects their devices to the cyberworld, so it’s understandable when someone assumes that all Wi-Fi is the same. But in reality, Wi-Fi signals come in the form of 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz frequency bands. Wi-Fi networks use either of these frequencies to transmit data between routers and smart devices. 

The most common Wi-Fi frequency band is 2.4 Ghz. The only problem is that other devices in your home, like your microwave or television remote control, often use this same frequency which can interfere with your connectivity.  

Wi-Fi operating with 5 Ghz frequency bands was developed to overcome this interference problem, but there’s still a list of pros and cons between the two frequencies. For instance, the 2.4 Ghz frequency has a wider range than the 5 Ghz, but the 5 Ghz is significantly faster.  

Any way you want to spin it, though, the Vilo Wi-Fi Mesh system provides the best of both worlds with its simultaneous dual band design. So if you’re still unsure which kind of Wi-Fi is best for you, you can be reassured that you’re getting the best of both options with Vilo Living.  

Still, in some extreme instances where Wi-Fi may be insufficient, you might need hard-wired internet connection, otherwise known as “Ethernet.” While Wi-Fi and Ethernet have their pros and cons, the bottom line is that Ethernet is more reliable and will transfer data from the internet to a computer faster than Wi-Fi. So, if you’re a professional online gamer and can’t risk losing connection even for a second, having hard-wired Ethernet connection might be the best option.  

Get the internet that’s right for you 

Every household’s internet needs vary. For some, connectivity is simply a means to an end, for others, their livelihood depends on it. Whatever the case may be, clearing up these misconceptions about home connectivity is a great first step to understanding your unique internet needs and, ultimately, getting the internet service that’s right for you. 

How can a customer-facing app improve your subscriber’s experience? 

Thanks to the Vilo App, your subscribers can enjoy a sophisticated level of control over their Mesh Wi-Fi experience. From parental controls to usage reports, the Vilo App empowers subscribers to a degree previously unattainable in the Mesh Wi-Fi system market. And the more control the subscribers have over their network, the less Internet Service Providers (ISP) have to worry about. Before jumping into all the app’s eyebrow-lifting features, though, take a moment to consider the ever-growing appeal of mobile apps in general. 

On a global scale, over 230 billion mobile apps were downloaded worldwide in 2021, an almost 40% increase compared to 2016’s 140 billion downloads. And with the global market for smart home devices (home devices that connect to an app) projected to reach USD 11.7 billion by 2028, it’s clear that apps that make home life more convenient are of particular interest to users. 

Thanks to the Vilo App, ISPs can offer their subscribers a convenient and hassle-free way for them to take more control over their home’s Wi-Fi. Let’s take a look at some of the specific reasons why your subscribers will love the Vilo App. 

Parental Controls 

The Vilo App’s “Parental Control” feature is a great way for subscribers to ensure that their children are safe while surfing the net. With this feature, your subscribers can:

  • Set schedules for each day or week to control their online usage.
  • Blacklist any adult sites they do not want their child to visit or stumble upon.
  • Enable and disable internet access for their children’s devices.

Guest Wi-Fi 

Another beneficial aspect of the Vilo App is the “Guest Wi-Fi” feature. It allows users to set up a separate SSID and password. Create a guest network to share with friends and family when they come to visit or have a separate network set up for certain devices. You don’t have to remember to turn it off with the option to set network duration. 

Keep Track of Devices 

The Vilo App keeps track of your subscriber’s devices in real-time. From the app, they can see which devices are connected and if any have gone offline. This feature is ideal for households with multiple devices and any user looking for increased control over their devices and Wi-Fi network. 

Block Stranger’s Devices 

The Vilo App lets you block any suspicious device, so your subscribers can worry less about cyber criminals looking to steal personal information. Users can block them immediately when they identify an online trespasser. Bottom line: the Vilo App empowers subscribers to take control of the security of their Wi-Fi. 

Usage Report 

The Vilo App’s “Usage Report” feature shows your subscribers the usage data for their overall Wi-Fi network as well as for individual connected devices. The fact that users will be able to see today’s, this week’s, and this month’s usage data will make them feel like a genuine sense of ownership over their network. 

Custom SSID and Password 

Do you ever get subscribers calling you begging you to change their Wi-Fi Network’s name and password as soon as possible? Maybe they just broke up and they don’t want their ex to know their Wi-Fi information. Maybe a nosy roommate discovered their information and now they want to change it. Whatever the case, Vilo’s App allows subscribers to change their network’s SSID and password with ease—no phone calls required. 

Put the World in Your Subscribers’ Hands 

Wi-Fi is a critical part of the lives of millions. In the US, for example, 97% of Americans use the internet. And as more and more are relying on smart home devices, as was previously mentioned, internet users are looking for a way to take charge of their own signals. Offer your subscribers control over their internet with the easy-to-use Vilo app. Empower your subscribers with the Wi-Fi autonomy available only with Vilo Living. 

What is Wi-Fi Interference and How to Work Around it?  

Angry woman staring at the router

Who doesn’t need Wi-Fi in this modern era where we use the internet for our day-to-day tasks such as shopping, watching TV, and looking up weather updates and directions for a place?  

With the advancement of technology, we use smart home devices for everything. Good Wi-Fi connectivity has become a basic need for life only next to air, water, food, clothing, and shelter.  

With a surge in video streaming (SVoD) compounding at 8.89% annually, there is a need for an affordable, reliable, and seamless Wi-Fi network that is capable of handling multiple devices. 

But all Wi-Fi issues are not device-related, or firmware related. No or Slow internet can also arise by having some devices that are close to your network.  

In other words, you should be able to attend a video call on Zoom while your kids upload a video of their project on YouTube and your wife should be able to watch movies on Netflix simultaneously.  

Signs of Wi-Fi Interference   

The following cues indicate the presence of external signals which impedes the performance of your Wi-Fi network:   

  • Low signal strength even if you bring your phone or laptop near the broadcast device   
  • Slow transfers of files between computers if done through Wi-Fi   
  • Frequent disconnection   
  • Slower internet   
  • Not able to pair with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi gadgets   

Reasons behind Wi-Fi Interference:   

Below are the possible factors for Wi-Fi interference at your location:   

Nearby Wi-Fi Networks   

When there are many networks around your apartment, this puts the capacity of wireless at risk. Wireless networks use two frequency bands – 2.4 and 5 GHz. 802.11b/g wireless networks operate on the 2.4 GHz band, 802.11a networks on the 5 GHz band and 802.11n networks on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. 

If the wireless adapter installed on your PC/laptop/tablet/smartphone is intended for the USA (e.g., in Apple devices), you can only use channels from 1 to 11 on it. So if you set the channel number to 12 or 13 (and if the channel selection algorithm automatically selected one of them), the wireless client (iPad/iPhone) will not see the access point. You need to manually set the channel number from 1 to 11 in this case. 

Physical Obstructions   

You must have discovered that the no-signals issue persists at certain corners of your area. Due to physical hindrances, Wi-Fi signals stop reaching your device. These hindrances may include wood, mirror, metal, synthetic material, bricks, marble, glass, water, and concrete. You will be surprised to know that even TV is another major cause of weak Wi-Fi signals.  

Microwaves   

Surprisingly, microwaves intrude with Wi-Fi like other wireless devices because they work on the 2.4GHz spectrum. Specifically, the less expensive or older model microwave is more likely to interrupt Wi-Fi performance. Thus, you may encounter internet interruptions when the microwave is plugged in.  

Satellite Dishes   

When satellites have incorrect, old, or deteriorating wiring, chances are there that they might leak or render signal interference in the area.  

Monitors and Displays   

Some displays radiate harmonic interference—particularly between channels 14 and 11 within the 2.4 GHz band.   

Refrigerators   

Refrigerators can act as a barrier regardless of the ice around them. These motors are attached inside the fridge and can interrupt the Wi-Fi signals, thus leading to slow internet and frequent disconnection of Wi-Fi.   

Hearing Aids   

Hearing apparatuses also can act as a barrier. When anyone with a hearing aid living around reaches within a range of a wireless broadcasting device disrupts the signal.   

Aquariums and Christmas Tree Lights   

Aquariums and Christmas tree lights often operate in frequencies that stagger Wi-Fi signals. When frequencies match, they usually overlap and cancel out each other. Therefore, they are the primary cause of Wi-Fi signal interference and disrupted internet connection.  

Cordless Wi-Fi Phones   

In general, a cordless phone operates on a 2.4GHz range. Whenever the phone rings or anyone talks on the phone, you may face Wi-Fi interference. Keep in mind that this disruption is only because of the Wi-Fi multiplicity. However, DECT (Digitally enhanced cordless) phones are not affected.  

Bluetooth   

Wireless Bluetooth devices such as keyboards, headsets, mice, etc., can interrupt Wi-Fi signals. The technology used by Bluetooth is known as frequency hopping which skips a 2.4 GHz band more than 1600 times per second. Bluetooth devices reach the frequency range of another device with a Wi-Fi connection. Thus, it can create delays and damage some of the Wi-Fi traffic.   

How to Resolve Wi-Fi Interference?  

Now that you know the causes of Wi-Fi interference, you may look for its solutions. Following are some tips that would be helpful: 

  1. Unplug the devices and kitchen appliances when you are not using them.   
  1. Do not use too many wireless devices at the same time.   
  1. Consider using a different wireless band or multiple wireless frequencies. It is advisable to use the newer 5 GHz Wi-Fi frequency not used in various congested areas.   

The 5Hz frequency can carry more data and therefore provide faster speeds. However, routers that can broadcast 5Hz frequencies are expensive.   

  1. Upgrade your firmware to the latest version. Upgrade your device to the latest Wi-Fi technology (newer technologies and configurations can avoid the susceptibility of earlier solutions). 
  1. Avoid placing wireless access points, such as routers behind or near the TV, fish tanks, and Christmas lights.   
  1. Do not place the Wi-Fi broadcasting device near the fridge.   
  1. Do not place your Wi-Fi device next to hard walls made of concrete or metal. 
  1. Choose the design of a Wi-Fi network wisely because it has a lasting impact on the capability and coverage.   
  1. Make sure within your space that the electrical fittings are set properly.  Poor electrical connections result in broad RF range emissions. 

In a Nutshell   

Wi-Fi interference can become a big nuisance as it impacts your productivity and often puts you in trouble. Being aware of your surroundings and taking possible precocious measures helps to overcome poor Wi-Fi strength due to interference. As your needs grow it may be time to upgrade your devices and use an internet package that delivers more total speed for all your devices. Reach further using a Mesh Wi-Fi system and replace your routers that will intelligently route traffic back to your modem providing complete home coverage in a single Wi-Fi network that reaches everywhere you need.  Improving the Wi-Fi coverage requires more Wi-Fi access points spread out in each room of the home. This gives your Wi-Fi enough strength to penetrate the network via the Vilo Mesh system.  

To get affordable, seamless and secure Wi-Fi coverage, get Vilos and plug them into your modem or talk to your ISP for installation.