ISP of the Month: Rob Johnstone of Stroud Media

Rob Johnstone ISP of the Month

Rob and Jill Johnstone co-founded their Stroudsburg Pennsylvania-based ISP (Internet Service Providers), Stroud Media, in 2020. Today, they have more than 500 subscribers and even provide service to remote areas in Kingston, New York. Having only two full-time employees who primarily do installations and respond to service calls, Stroud Media is run by just four people. But according to Rob, their rag-tag team has an advantage over their big-name competitors. 

The Stroud Media Advantage  

“Our niche is customer service,” Rob explains. “We’ve gotten a lot of people that’ll tell us that they’re not treated very well by the local cable company—that they’re just a number to them.” When these same individuals discover Stroud Media, Rob says they’re immediately impressed by the quality of service. 

“It’s hard to compete on price. It’s hard to compete with a company that’s ten times bigger than us,” he continues, “but we can compete in the area of providing excellent customer service and being able to not treat every one of our customers like they’re a number, and even going the extra step. And I think that’s where Vilo comes in.” 

Stroud Media began replacing their Ubiquiti routers with Vilos in the summer of 2022. For Rob, who’s been involved in the wireless internet business since the mid-2000s and holds some of the top certifications in his field, it was imperative that he deployed a reliable Wi-Fi unit that could also be managed remotely

“A big part of what we offer is the ability to remotely access our subscribers’ routers from our office so we can help customers without having to go out,” he says. “I think that’s where we excel and that’s one of the reasons why, when we found Vilo, we said, ‘hey, this is a product that fits in with what we want to do and what we want to offer our customers.” 

Since they began deploying Vilo, Rob says he hasn’t received complaints or calls for service from his subscribers and that Stroud Media will be exclusively using Vilos moving forward.  

Rob Johnstone of Stroud Media LLC | Vilo ISP of the Month

From WISP to FISP 

As of late September 2022, Stroud Media, a mostly wireless ISP, has begun building out their fiber networks. “We kind of made the decision to go move 100% in the next few years into a fiber-based network.”  

As local cable companies don’t provide FTTH (Fiber to the Home), Stroud Media is the first provider in Monroe Country, PA, to bring fiber to both businesses and the home. Today, 30-40% of Stroud Media’s customers get their internet through fiber, including several MDUs (Multi-Dwelling Units). 

“So, we’re starting to actively build fiber in a lot of neighborhoods, and we’ve installed a lot of fiber in the last two or three months. We’ve made a lot of good strides in getting our fiber up on the poles and getting it to a lot more of our customers.” 

Stroud Media LLC | Vilo ISP of the Month

Challenges of transition to fiber 

Any WISP (Wireless Internet Service Provider) switching to fiber knows the process is not without its potential kinks. Rob relayed to the Vilo team some of the challenges Stroud Media has faced when building out their fiber networks. 

“I think the biggest challenge for us is permitting some of the poles and some of the engineering that’s required to get what they call the make ready done,” he explains, “which is basically when we want to get up on a telephone pole and say the cable company or telephone company has to move their cables to make room for us on the pole, so that has been our biggest obstacle.” 

Regarding the wait time for completing all the steps involved, Rob says, “it’s probably three to five months from the time we say we want to put fiber on the pole to when we’re actually out there putting fiber on the poles.”  

When talking about the shift to fiber, Rob mentioned his interest in trying out the new Vilo 6 mesh Wi-Fi system. “We’re definitely going to be getting some Vilo 6’s on board and playing them!” 

Despite the sometimes slow-going process, Rob is optimistic about Stroud Media’s fiber-based future. “In the next year, we’re hoping to expand on the fiber we’ve already built and get into more neighborhoods,” he says. 

“I always tell everybody if it was easy anyone could do it. In this industry, my experience is there’ve been a lot of challenges and hurdles you have to get over, but if you stick with it, it’ll turn out in the end.” 

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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How Vilo Helps ISPs Provide a Delightful Subscriber Experience 

Provide a delightful subscriber experience

When Internet Service Providers (ISPs) set out to install internet, all their engineering, whether it’s pinging a signal across towers and rooftops or running fiber underground, is meant to accomplish a single task: provide reliable connectivity to their customers’ homes.  

While each step along the way is arguably as important as the next, there’s no question that from a business standpoint, the equipment an ISP installs inside of a customer’s home is the most essential. Matthew Thomas, Co-Founder of WON Communications in Springfield, Missouri, explained it the best when he said, “Customers think that Wi-Fi is the internet. It is to them.” 

Middle: Matthew Thomas, co-owner of WON Communications. Left: WON crew member on tower. Right: WON equipment.

“And if the Wi-Fi doesn’t perform well, you’re the problem,” he continued. “It’s a straight line to the ISP. Understanding that is important for customer retention.” 

Manage your subscribers’ networks with the Vilo ISP Management Portal

Like the ISPs reading this, the Vilo team is painfully aware of how crucial it is to deploy reliable Wi-Fi systems. And the best subscriber experiences come from Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) that’s not just reliable, but manageable.  

Not only do your routers need to run smoothly, but you, as the ISP, need insight into your customer’s network to ensure the connection you’ve engineered is strong. If you’re flying blind and your customers begin reporting issues, you risk losing money on frequent truck rolls, and worse, your customers may be less than satisfied. 

That’s why our mesh Wi-Fi units come with Vilo’s ISP Management Portal, so you can configure, monitor, and troubleshoot your subscribers’ networks without having to roll a truck. Vilo’s Portal gives you all the tools you need to delight your subscribers with an optimal home connectivity experience, including the ability to: 

  • Check and manage SSID, password, network status, IP, MAC, etc.  
  • Remotely push & schedule firmware upgrades, restarts, & factory resets  
  • View connected devices & their signal strength  
  • Run speed tests and view speed history  
  • Detect interference & change channels and channel width. 

Here’s a real-life scenario where having Vilo’s managed mesh Wi-Fi routers made all the difference for an ISP, specifically a $5000 a month difference.  

Before deploying Vilos, Ori.Net, a family-owned ISP in Indiana with around 1600 subscribers, would get frequent calls for support from their customers. According to Mark LaManna, Ori.Net’s Network Engineer at the time, a single truck roll cost the company $100, and it wasn’t uncommon for them to have to roll multiple trucks to resolve a single issue.  

“We were losing money trying to keep customers,” Mark said after explaining how they were only charging customers $60 a month. “It was just not sustainable in the long run.” 

Within their first year of deploying Vilo’s manageable mesh Wi-Fi units, Orie.Net reported a 40% decrease in truck rolls and a 30% reduction in calls for service. Mark estimates that the ISP Management Portal cut Ori.Net’s operational expenses by approximately $5000 a month. 

“Vilo enabled us to really take ownership over Wi-Fi in our subscribers’ homes,” Mark explained.  

Save money while enhancing your subscribers’ experience with the Vilo App

Vilo mesh Wi-Fi units also come with our free subscriber-facing app which, along with guest Wi-Fi and parental control features, allows your customers to manage their network too. While the bulk of network management is given to ISPs via the Management Portal, customers can enhance their Wi-Fi experience by optimizing channel selections and scheduling regular restarts through the Vilo app

Customers are also able to set up their Vilo networks via the Vilo app. This is a powerful advantage, especially for ISPs who provide internet to remote locations. Dalton Gillmore of SpeedFi Inc in Kingston, Canada, for instance, serves several remote locations, including four different islands.  

Left: SpeedFi’s equipment in the Kingston area of Canada. Right: SpeedFi Inc owner Dalton Gillmore

Rolling a truck to an island can take Dalton up to six hours round-trip. So for his more tech-savvy island-dwelling customers, Dalton can ship out a Vilo unit directly to the customer, and from there, the subscriber can simply follow the network installation walk-through on the Vilo app.  

Speaking to how much time Vilo’s Wi-Fi solutions can save him, Dalton remarks, “This is why having Vilo has been mission critical to us.” 

See for yourself

The bottom line is that by deploying Vilo’s managed mesh Wi-Fi systems into your customers’ homes you’re able to guarantee a delightful subscriber experience. Thanks to the Vilo Management Portal, you can ensure a strong connection for your customers every day and spare yourself the headache of constant truck rolls. And with the Vilo App, your subscribers can enhance their Wi-Fi experience and you can save yourself time and money.  

If you’d like to see for yourself how Vilo can help you, click the button below to set up a free demo of our ISP Management Portal. 

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ISP of the Month: Matthew Thomas of WON Communications

ISP of the Month

WON Communications officially opened for business in Fall 2015 when two small Internet Service Providing companies, U-Link and Wide Open Networks, merged. “It turns out a company from Virginia had a trademark on the term wide open,” WON Co-Owner and Network Engineer Matthew Thomas chuckled.

“They enforced their trademark and wanted us to stop using it. So, when we merged the two companies, we just turned it into an acronym, and that’s where WON Communications came from.” 

The name is suiting, according to Matthew, as WON (pronounced “one”) keeps things simple for their business and residential customers by providing a single point of contact. “[O]ne phone number, one invoice – hence, the ‘WON’ of WON Communications,” he says. 

Some of the WON Communications crew. Matthew and Cameron employ a team of 10.

Self-taught from the Days of Dial-up

Matthew earned degrees in electronics and industrial management from Missouri State University and is a “Distinguished Alumnus” of Ozark Technical Community College. Despite not having any formal networking experience, though, he jumped into the internet industry in the early 2000’s.  

“I just taught myself everything I needed to know,” he says. Matthew’s first internet-related experience was setting up Wi-Fi in his house back in the day when dial-up was the standard. 

“I went and bought one of those Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Routers, the black and blue ones you can get from Walmart,” he recalls. “I tried figuring out how to use it—taught myself how to set the computer up as a proxy for the dial-up that was coming in so I could take dial up and send it out as a Wi-Fi and try and use the Wi-Fi throughout the house.” 

After that experience, Matthew began setting up Wi-Fi for apartments and hot spots. He even landed a city gig providing Wi-Fi to buses. Those experiences led him to starting his own ISP around 2005 called U-Link.  

Slicing Pie for Co-Owners

In the mid 2010’s, Matthew met Cameron Rose, whose background was primarily in construction, while they were shopping for internet equipment at the same forum. “We met up and had this shared vision of starting a project in the downtown Springfield area,” Matthew recalls. The two of them started Wide Open Networks shortly thereafter. 

They divvied up ownership according to the Slicing Pie operating model, which provides a template for owners where equity splits are fluid according to how much time and resources each respective owner puts into the business. 

“We didn’t have to argue over who owned how much of the business or was putting in the most time and all that kind of stuff,” says Matthew. “What that unique model let us do was, as long as we recorded how much time and resources we put into the business, the business ownership dynamically adjusted.” 

The Slicing Pie approach was so successful for Matthew and Cameron that they recommend it to anyone looking to go into business together. “It’ll take away all the confusion [surrounding ownership],” Matthew added. 

WON Communications and Quality Over Quantity

After Wide Open Networks began earning a positive cash flow, Matthew and Cameron incorporated Wide Open Networks with U-Link to make WON Communications in 2015. With the merger, WON had about 700 subscribers in their first year of business. Today, they serve around 1,330 subscribers in Springfield, Missouri and the surrounding areas; as North as Humansville and as South as Chadwick. 

Pointing to the 5.0 customer review rating on WON’s Facebook page, Matthew explains how their focus is more on quality than quantity when it comes to growth. “We prefer to put time and effort into upgrading our network and taking care of existing customers before we run out there and try to just grow the network like crazy,” he says. 

WON Communications equipment

“Vilo solved a lot of our problems”

To further emphasize quality, WON began deploying Vilo mesh Wi-Fi systems earlier this year. After meeting some of the Vilo team at WispAmerica, Matthew tried some of the Vilos out. Much to his relief, the Vilos maintained coverage and didn’t require multiple reboots a day like the Cambium systems they had previously deployed. 

“Vilo solved a lot of our problems, plus, they provided a mesh solution for some of these larger residential homes, and they just made sense, so we jumped in with Vilo and it’s just been great ever since,” says Matthew. 

A staff member on WON’s support team estimates that they’ve already seen a 50% reduction in support calls since deploying Vilo. Matthew also loves that his support team can access network insights with Vilo’s ISP Management Portal. “It gives us all the information we need,” he added, “which has helped us out in situations that’ve been pretty tricky for us.” 

Speaking about the Vilo Mesh Wi-Fi systems, Matthew says, “the Vilo maintains and supplies a good through-put for the standard 1200 to 1500 sq. ft. residential. The stuff stays on and works, we haven’t had problems with them rebooting.” For larger residential spaces, WON will install a sub Vilo for an additional $5 a month. 

In closing, Matthew stressed the importance of having reliable equipment, like Vilos, in the customers’ homes. “Customers think that Wi-Fi is the internet. It is to them,” he explains. “And if the Wi-Fi doesn’t perform well, you’re the problem. It’s a straight line to the ISP. Understanding that is important for customer retention.” 

Comparing Vilo 6 with its competitors

Comparing Vilo 6 with its Competitors (1)

At Wispapalooza 2022, we announced the production of the Vilo 6, a manageable, meshable Wi-Fi 6 system. Pre-orders for the Vilo 6 began about four weeks ago, and the first shipment is expected to arrive in the U.S. on Christmas day! But what’s all the excitement about? Plenty of Wi-Fi 6 routers are already available in the market—what makes the Vilo 6 so special? 

Of course, the Vilo 6 is an AX1800 system. A single unit covers up to 2,000 sq. ft. and can connect to 128 devices at a time. The Vilo 6’s recommended broadband speed is 1 Gbps (or 1,000 Mbps). If you compare those performance indicators to other Wi-Fi 6 routers (see chart below), the Vilo 6 easily runs with the rest of pack. However, the Vilo 6 clearly shines when it comes to its meshing capabilities.  

Comparing Vilo 6 with its competitors
Comparing Vilo 6 with its competitors

While plenty of other Wi-Fi 6 routers can mesh together to create a whole-home covering network, the Vilo 6 is the only router that comes preconfigured to mesh. Since the units are preconfigured, setting up Vilo 6’s in your customers’ home is as simple as plug and play—meaning less hassle and more dazzle! 

The preconfigured design also allows ISPs to ship the Vilo 6’s directly to your customers, who can then set up their home network themselves with our free subscriber facing Vilo App. This can really come in handy if you have subscribers who live in remote locations. The app also enables your customers to set up parental controls and guest Wi-Fi networks, as well as manage their devices and optimize channel selection. 

Like our Wi-Fi 5 model, the Vilo 6 is remotely manageable with our ISP Management Portal. From the portal, you can get network insights, run speed tests and view speed history, remotely push firmware upgrades, view connected devices and signal strength and more!  

Vilo 6 Unboxing

So to recap, the Vilo 6’s coverage, capacity, and speeds are proportionate to the superior standards of Wi-Fi 6. Its unique preconfigured mesh design will make installations a breeze for ISPs and their subscribers. And with the Vilo App and ISP Management Portal included, the Vilo 6 is the ideal mesh Wi-Fi system for ISPs. 

Lastly, with a suggested retail price starting at $79.99 per unit, the Vilo 6 is easily one of the most affordable mesh Wi-Fi systems on the market—and we all know that doesn’t hurt. 

The Vilo 6 is available for pre-order now until the end of the month—preorder pricing starts at $69.99 per unit (pre-orders only available for ISPs). We will begin shipping early January 2022. If you want to stay up to date on all things Vilo-related, and even ask the Vilo team questions or make suggestions, join our Vilo ISP Chapter group on Facebook! 

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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Streamline your Vilo install to save money and time

Vilo Install

Did you know Vilo isn’t just cost-efficient hardware? We’re also an ISP partner who wants to help you save time on installations because time is money. So here is our recommended Vilo installation procedure. 

Prerequisites:

  • 3-pack of Vilos that have been scanned into inventory 
  • Have the home ready for Vilo with an RJ-45 cable 
  • A network that uses DHCP (Recommended), Static-IP, or PPPoE (VLANs are currently not supported)
  • Happy installer

Go ahead, and pull out any Vilo from your 3-pack to install as the main. It’s best to place the main Vilo in the middle of the home if circumstances permit. Plug the Vilo into your CPE network, fire up your Vilo App, and follow the installation steps.

Vilo Install Image submitted by Ben Cantymagli of Hometown Internet

When you reach the “add Vilo to network” portion of the walk-through, the Vilo may take a minute or two to establish connection. This is a good opportunity to ask your customers about coverage issues and potential dead spots they’ve experienced in the home. Some of our ISP partners recommend asking simple, yet relatable questions. John Gill from Kentucky Fi has a go-to ice breaker: “Do you have trouble watching TikTok on the toilet?”

Beyond just breaking the ice or filling the silence, though, this is an excellent opportunity to upsell an additional sub Vilo for a small monthly fee. For more information on how to maximize revenue with Vilo, click here.

With Vilo’s pre-configured mesh design, installing one or two sub units from the same pack is easier than ever. Just plug them into rooms around the house and they will mesh automatically. It’s best to have no more than 2 walls (drywall) between the main and sub-Vilo. 

If you are unsure about whether or not your mesh has a strong connection, the Vilo will flash blue if the signal is too low on a sub. Once everything is set up, we recommend updating the firmware. This is a great time to get the customer to sign any paperwork or even pick up your tools. 

A note about remote configuration

We can’t talk about streamlining Vilo installs without mentioning remote configuration. Remote configuration allows an ISP to remotely configure a Vilo network from the ISP Portal before or after deployment to a customer’s home. Once the Vilo has been configured, it can be installed remotely. However, Vilo will need to be plugged in and connected to the modem via the WAN port. This can be done entirely from the ISP Web Portal, excluding the need for the app.

To learn more about Vilo’s remote configuration, click here.

Like you, the Vilo team wants your installs to run smoothly and quickly. If you have any questions or suggestions about the Vilo set up process, consider joining our “Vilo Living ISP Chapter” on Facebook or contacting our support team.

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ISP of the Month: Byron Sierra of Central TV and Internet

Byron Sierra ISP of the Month

Byron Sierra, a Network Engineer at Central TV and Internet, earned his degree in Network Engineering in November 2017 and started working for Central just a few months later. Central TV and Internet provides internet and cable to some 15,000 subscribers in the Cayo and Belize districts of Belize.  

Byron’s interest in tech began when he was just 14. “My first choice was actually to become a doctor like my dad,” he explained, “but I found out pretty quickly that I don’t like to see blood.” Side-stepping blood-related work, Byron began taking apart old laptops from the hospital his dad worked at and putting them back together instead. “And I was really good at that, so that’s what got me started.”  

Today, he takes pride in the work he’s doing at Central TV and Internet, specifically noting the company’s dedication to customer satisfaction. “Anytime a customer calls with any issue, we try to resolve it within 24 hours,” he explains. “But that has been difficult as of late because of the hurricane.” 

Vilo Central TV and Internet
Image of Central TV and Internet employees setting up fiber

On Wednesday, November 2, Hurricane Lisa made landfall as a category 1 hurricane near the City of Belize. With wind speeds of 85 mph, Lisa engulfed many areas in the region with 4 ft of water. “It mostly affected the Belize district,” Byron recalls. “It brought down a lot of lamp posts where our fiber was connected, so we had a lot of fiber down and services were down for a couple of days in the City of Belize.” 

Since then, Central TV and Internet has been doing all they can to accelerate repairs and bring internet back to the area, even recruiting some of their 130 employees from other regions to speed up the recovery process. According to Byron, they still don’t have an estimate of the total dollar amount in damages caused by Lisa.  

When asked what he enjoys most about working for an ISP, Byron spoke to the sense of fulfillment he gets from connecting people to the internet. “You’re basically in charge of the internet—you provide internet services to people and provide connection to resources and entertainment. It’s your job to ensure that they get the quality that they want.” 

“It can be a pretty tough job,” he added, “since you constantly have to be monitoring for network outages, but it’s satisfying at the end of the day to know that people are able to do whatever they want using your connection.” 

One of the reasons why Central TV and Internet began partnering with Vilo, according to Byron, was to ensure a more stable and consistent connection for their subscribers. “With the Wi-Fi mesh units we were using before Vilo, we would get customer calls about slow speeds and weak connections in certain areas. But since we started installing Vilos, we’ve stopped getting complaints.” 

Byron discovered Vilo during this year’s WISPAmerica convention in Louisiana. “We were researching for Wi-Fi solutions that would meet all our needs and Vilo actually was the one that stood out the most,” he recalls. “So when we got to the show, [the Vilo team] was one of the first ones I wanted to talk to.” 

Vilo Central TV and Internet
Arial image of Central TV and Internet employees setting up fiber

The two things that immediately piqued Central’s interest was Vilo’s affordability and manageability. “We’re a small company, so we were looking for something affordable that, at the same time, works well, and Vilo works really well. Like I said, we had many complaints with our previous Wi-Fi units but haven’t heard any with Vilo.”  

Since first partnering with Vilo after WISPAmerica in March, Central TV and Internet has deployed around 70 Vilos and expect an increase in deployment in the coming weeks. “Our main Wi-Fi units will be the Vilo mesh units,” Byron added. 

“Being able to manage our Wi-Fi […] was one of the biggest things for us,” he said referring to Vilo’s ISP Management Portal. “Instead of having to send out techs to resolve issues, we can just go into the portal and see which device is connecting, which ones have low signals, etc.” 

Central TV and Internet’s experience with the Vilo team has also been a highlight of their partnership so far, according to Byron. “We’ve had a great experience especially when it comes to support,” he says. “They usually answer me the same day, sometimes within hours or minutes.” 

Lastly, having just received his samples of the Vilo 6, Byron is excited to try them out and voiced his interest in deploying them. “I’m pretty sure we’ll be requesting some boxes of the Vilo 6 so we can roll them out to customers!” 

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Vilo 6 AMA Webinar Recap

Vilo 6 AMA webinar

The Vilo 6 is finally here! The same day pre-orders became available, Vilo held an Ask Me Anything Webinar with Vilo 6 Product Manager Eva Wu, Account Executive Jared Lubas, and Support Engineer Mark LaManna to answer all your Vilo 6-related questions. Before jumping straight into the Q&A’s, though, let’s visit some Vilo 6 highlights.  

Aside from the obvious fact that the Vilo 6 is a Wi-Fi 6 system, there are some other noteworthy features. For instance, channel selection and channel width selection, both on the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, are available on the Vilo 6. Other improvements include IPv6 and Smart Queue Management powered by Cake Algorithm. Of course, the Vilo 6 also offers superior speeds and coverage.  

A slide from the Vilo 6 AMA Webinar

On the coverage side, a single Vilo 6 covers up to 2,000 sq. ft. per unit, and 4,000 sq. ft. per 2-pack. As far as speeds go, the Vilo 6 gets 600 Mbps on 2.4 GHz, and up to 1200 Mbps on 5 GHz. Last week, we went over some speed test results with the 6, but in case you missed it, see the infographic below.  

Infographic of speed test results of the Vilo 6 vs the Vilo (Wi-Fi 5)

Without further ado, let’s dive into some questions! 

Q: Will the Vilo 6 work seamlessly with any Wi-Fi 6 chipset that is an 802 standard chipset for Wi-Fi 6? 

No. While the Vilo 6 does have the 802 standard chipset, it will only mesh with another Vilo 6. 

Q: How many units can I mesh together in the same set up? 

Currently, three Vilo 6’s can be meshed in the same set up. However, by the time pre-orders are fulfilled in January, we’re aiming to increase the capacity to six at a time. 

Q: Can you mesh a Vilo with the Vilo 6? 

No.

Q: Where can I buy if I don’t live in the USA? 

Outside of the USA, you cannot buy Vilo 6’s from Vilo directly, but we do have distributors in Canada, South America, Africa, and New Zealand. Click here for more details. When in doubt, if you cannot find a distributor in your area, reach out to our sales team and we’ll work to make that happen. 

Q: Is there a way to order Vilo 6 units that aren’t pre-configured with mesh? 

Yes, you can order single packs, even in bulk. There’s no price incentive to buy 2-packs vs buying singles. 

Q: What’s the pricing for the Vilo 6? 

Retail pricing for a 1-pack is $79.99 and $154.99 for a 2-pack. During the pre-order period, a case of 15 1-packs go for $1,049.85 and a case of 8 2-packs will cost $1,119.84. 

If you have a question that wasn’t answered during this AMA Webinar, or if you’d like to keep up with all things Vilo-related, join our Vilo Living ISP Chapter group on Facebook. If you’re looking to place an order to secure a Vilo 6 today, visit: https://store.viloliving.com/vilo-6. Lastly, if you’re curious about half-pallet and pallet pricing, get in touch with our sales team at sales@viloliving.com.  

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Is your network ready for Vilo 6?

Is your network ready for Vilo 6?

Vilo 6 is not just Vilo with Wi-Fi 6, but a redesign in the same compact, easy-to-place Vilo case. We started with the chipset and settled on the Mediatek MT7621AT, which is used across the market from Asus to Ubiquiti. 

Once we got the chipset down, we moved on to the OS. We looked at everyone’s needs from ISPs to end users, and found that OpenWRT was the best fit. So no matter if you need Vlans for your ISP or a better SQM (Smart Queue Management) for your home lab, Vilo is the right fit. 

Now, those upgrades sound great, but how will the Vilo 6 perform? It was time to test that. We set up a simple lab for testing where the Vilo WAN port is connected to a network switch and on the same switch is a speed test server. However, we never turned off other access points and routers in our office, so the RF environment was as real-world as it gets. 

The first test is what we like to call the “same-room” test, where we conducted two speed tests in the same room as the main Vilo: one hardwired and one wireless. 

Same room (5 to 10ft)

*All results are average across 10 tests.

DownloadUploadPingJitter
Wired to Main Vilo984.29 Mbps994.29 Mbps1.7 ms0.74 ms
Wireless to Main Vilo897.57 Mbps589.57 Mbps3.7 ms1.87 ms

As you can see, the same room tests are outstanding, but you don’t stay in the same room. What about if you’re on the toilet watching TikTok you need to make sure Vilo is there for you? Let’s move on to the next room test and meshing tests, which were conducted in the same lab and RF environment. 

Next room (20ft and through a wall)

*All results are average across 10 tests.

DownloadUploadPingJitter
Wired to Sub Vilo446.86 Mbps425.86 Mbps2.84 ms1.62 ms
Wireless to Sub Vilo (client 5 ft away)336.00 Mbps309.00 Mbps4.06 ms2.20 ms
Wireless to Main Vilo559.14 Mbps436.86 Mbps3.6 ms1.38 ms

If you think your networks are ready for the Vilo 6, sing up to be one of the first to place your order by clicking here (pre-orders starting November 15, 2022).

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

ISP of the Month: Dalton Gilmore of SpeedFi Inc.

Dalton Gilmore of SpeedFi Inc.

When Dalton Gilmore, 27, started SpeedFi Inc in 2017, it fulfilled one of his childhood aspirations. “It always was my dream to supply internet to people, honestly,” he says. “When I was 12 years old, that was my dream.” 

Dalton grew up on a farm in the Manitoba province of Canada, where he opened his own computer repair shop, PC Mini Tech, when he was barely 16. “I didn’t know how internet worked at the time, so I started the computer repair store instead, but I always played with wireless stuff and loved it.” 

As often as he could, Dalton would dabble in internet-related side projects, including providing internet to his childhood home and his family’s farm. “I also worked with a radio station and TV station back in the day, and they let me use their tower and equipment,” he recalls.  

Dalton built the station’s dedicated links for their video-on-demand livestreaming before Twitch was even a thing. One of the most notable projects he was involved in was helping the local TV station broadcast a Safeway Select Curling game, which is a big deal in Canada.  

Dalton Gilmore, owner of SpeedFi Inc.

SpeedFi Inc in Kingston, Canada 

SpeedFi Inc, Dalton’s WISP, was initially a subdivision of his computer shop, but come 2018, SpeedFi would incorporate PC Mini Tech. “I realized the computer business wasn’t profitable anymore because people throw things away so easily these days.” 

Today, Speedfi Inc provides internet to 300 customers in and around the City of Kingston in Ontario, Canada. Daring to go where big-name ISPs won’t, SpeedFi serves several remote locations, including Wolfe, Howe, Simcoe, and Amherst Islands. Because of the challenging nature of their area of service, and since SpeedFi only has four employees in total, Dalton says he prefers to buy “very expensive equipment” while prioritizing integration and automation.  

“So we deal with a lot of remote, frustrating locations where a lot of bigger ISPs don’t want to go. And I don’t blame them, honestly.” According to Dalton, a simple 15-minute service call to one of the islands can take several hours because ferry wait times can be extreme, thanks to the region’s high volume of tourism. 

“We’ve had a service call before where a router died, and the one call took us 6 hours,” he says. “This is why having Vilo has been mission critical to us; we have to be sure the Wi-Fi routers we install work.” 

A google maps image of Kingston, Canada, and the islands to where SpeedFi provides internet services.

SpeedFi and Vilo 

Dalton first discovered Vilo at a conference in Ottawa in March last year and was skeptical because of the Vilo’s competitive price point. “I thought, ‘how can you sell a router at this price and expect it to perform?’ We had even just purchased some more expensive routers that we thought were better at the time, and it was one of those things where Vilo was about a third of the price of this other one, and I was like, ‘you know what? Let’s buy it. Let’s try it out.’” 

Prior to putting Vilo to the test, Dalton had a Ubiquiti UniFi Wi-Fi system installed in his house. Despite having an access point (AP) on each floor, he was unsatisfied with the performance he was getting. “I would go outside, just 10 ft. away from one of the AP’s where my hot tub is, and I still couldn’t use the Wi-Fi.”  

Hoping to finally stream TikTok’s from his tub, Dalton swapped his UniFi system with Vilo’s. “And it worked. The mesh worked seamlessly. I switched over to the Vilo network and was getting like 100 Mbps in the hot tub through my house’s metal siding and everything,” he recalls. “I was very shocked with the results, and I’ve had no issues with it.” 

As SpeedFi relies heavily on automation and integration, Dalton has been making good use of the Vilo ISP Portal. “We are very happy with the ISP Portal, and like I said, I like to have everything tying in, and so being able to look at the dashboard and see device statuses, run speed tests remotely, to lock channels—being able to select channels—has all been huge for us.” 

By April 2021, Dalton was deploying Vilo as SpeedFi’s Wi-Fi system of choice. “We’ve been pulling another vendor’s out like there’s no tomorrow,” he says.  

“We’ve only had one truck roll involving a Vilo and it was because of bad power at the place—it cooked a lot of other devices in that house, so I’m not going to blame Vilo for that one,” he continues. “But I still get reminded, sometimes weekly, about issues with our other vendor’s routers where we have to do a truck roll and put a Vilo in.” 

An Airbnb and a lot of profanity 

Things can get hairy when you’re providing internet to islands, especially when Airbnb’s are involved. Just last week, Dalton found himself in one of the most frustrating situations of his ISP career.

One of his customers who runs an Airbnb missed their scheduled appointment for a Wi-Fi installation and told Dalton that he could send the Vilo in the mail, and they would set it up themself. A few days later, he found out it was never installed when he got a call from the Airbnb’s guests. 

“There was a lot of frustration,” he recalls, “They couldn’t figure out how to install the app. It was constant profanity on the phone. It was next level! They couldn’t even figure out the password on the bottom of the router.” 

To complicate things further, Dalton was unable to do a remote installation on his end as the particular Vilo system came from an earlier batch and didn’t have the latest firmware upgrades. “The customer was irate.” 

One of SpeedFi’s towers in Kingston, Canada

“So I gave Vilo a shout and asked if there was a possibility to get this password since I had the serial number. I got a text message a half an hour later with the password. I emailed it to the client; I have not heard from them since. Clearly, we see bandwidth coming through, and they stopped calling the Airbnb owner every two hours.” 

“So we followed up with the owner, everything’s good now. You guys helped us through that when I don’t know if any other vendor would have,” he said. “So yeah, working with the Vilo team has been amazing.” 

What’s next for SpeedFi

Apart from providing internet, SpeedFi Inc has data center and consulting divisions. According to Dalton, they are aiming to deploy 5G networks soon, but are waiting for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Division (CRTC) to lay out their new spectrum. He also expressed his excitement for upcoming Vilo releases, including the Vilo 6 and API integration. 

“I can’t wait to get my hands on the Vilo 6,” he laughed.  

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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An interview with Wispapalooza keynote speaker John Gill of KentuckyFi

wispapalooza keynote speaker john gill

On the last day of this year’s convention, Wispapalooza keynote speaker John Gill presented his success story. “In one year, I went from square feet to now I service over 50 square miles of coverage,” he began, recalling how his WISP, KentuckyFi, blossomed in just twelve months. Today, he has 75 customers and covers more than 900 homes. John was invited by WISPA Director of Communications Mike Wendy to share his WISP journey at this year’s convention. 

During an interview with the Vilo team, John reiterated the central message of his presentation: “For anyone who is thinking about [starting their own WISP] and is scared that fiber’s going to beat them or anything like that—do it. Just go ahead and do it.” This enthusiasm comes from his own experience starting KentuckyFi. John is adamant that anyone can achieve similar success by utilizing online resources, seeking support from the WISP community, and making partnerships with companies that listen.  

Wispapalooza keynote speaker John Gill – opening slide.

John’s own ‘just do it’ attitude is partially inspired by the fact that anyone can learn just about anything thanks to online resources like YouTube. “There’s tons of YouTube videos out there,” he said during the interview. “It’s just like nowadays, there’s a lot of people working on their car while they’re watching YouTube and turning a wrench. That’s the same thing that’s happening with the internet providing side of things!” 

KentuckyFi isn’t the only WISP that came to life thanks in part to the knowledge available on YouTube. In last month’s ISP feature, Chief Se’khu Hadjo Gentle of RedFi Broadband shared how he watched YouTube videos to improve his internet providing capabilities too. And if you are ever unable to find what you are looking for online, the WISP community will have your back.  

While John was admittedly nervous at the time of his presentation, he was excited to give back to his fellow WISPs who’ve supported him since day one. “I’ve worked for other businesses in the past where there’s been so much competition, so much head-butting. With the WISP industry, it’s completely different,” he said. 

“If [your network] goes down for whatever reason, whether that be mother nature or your own accord, you’re a phone call away from getting it back up. There are people in the WISP industry who just love helping each other out.” 

During his Wispapalooza address, John referred to companies like Vilo as “tools in [his] toolbox.” Whether it be Vilo or some other company in the industry, the most crucial part of any partnership, according to John, is the company’s ability to listen. 

“One of the reasons I continue to work with Vilo is that they’re doing so much in the market of listening to us WISPs. You tell them what you need and they’ll work to get it to you in the next release. It’s kind of like what we’re doing for our customers when we go to a customer’s house,” he continued. “The customer wants a satisfying product, and Vilo does the same thing for an ISP.” 

Watch Wispapalooza keynote speaker John Gill give his presentation here!

John cautioned against working with larger companies as they are more likely to be “set in their ways,” and care more about making “the biggest profit margin” than helping smaller ISPs. After noting the symbiotic relationship between WISPs and companies like Vilo, where helping one another achieve is in the best interest of both parties, John said, “That’s what Vilo is all about—helping you win.” 

Circling back to his tool analogy, John also suggested never deleting industry contacts. “If you’ve ever seen a mechanic, they have these huge toolboxes. I see contacts, email addresses—I see all of that as tools in my toolbox,” he explained. 

To conclude his presentation, John recalled how when he first started his WISP, a Windstream representative looked him in the face and told him, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” When asked if that person thinks he knows what he’s talking about now, John laughed, “well, his technicians are telling their customers about KentuckyFi now, so I’d say so!” 

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