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! 

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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.

How Parental Controls Keep Your Family Safe

These days, the internet and smartphones are the need of the hour. From running businesses to conducting research and studies, reconciling legal or tax issues, or even keeping an eye on your healthy lifestyle and fitness problems, the internet touches nearly every aspect of our lives. And furthermore, our kids are using more smart gadgets in day-to-day tasks as well. But what happens when you do not have enough time to keep a check on what your children see on the internet? This is where the Parental Control tools from Vilo and others come into play to help you protect your family online.

With the help of these tools, Parents and guardians can manage what their kid surfs on the worldwide web. Parental control tools are great for screen time management, providing content blockers, or blocking entire websites. 

Of course, as a parent, you will still want to look carefully at everything they work on to know if you need a more effective way to disable some of the sites/apps or not. And before making any decisions, you first need to consider the maturity level and age of your kids to decide what they should avoid watching and what sites they must not access. 

How Parental Controls Ensure Online Safety

In this age where everything is open and accessible to every single user, the importance of online safety has increased. You may ask whether it is okay to allow your children to use the internet without any restrictions. The simple answer is no, the internet is not a safe space for our children, so we do need to take measures to ensure their safety online. Are parental control options useful for your family? Absolutely.

As per a study by Pew Research Center in 2019, 52 percent of parents rely on parental control options to limit access to individual sites. This research supports the fact that parental control features work favorably for parents. 

These tools enable healthy online practices in minor users and make you confident in protecting your devices and internal network. Besides controlling screen time and constraining explicit content, parental controls also minimize the chances of data stealing and cybercrime by keeping your minor or adult kid from accessing every other site prone to data breaches. 

Parental Control Tips:

  • If your child is a teenager, you can discuss with and help them understand the importance of parental control tools and how to be safe online where they are deemed responsible enough to be allowed.
  • Make sure you clearly label devices so that you know which smartphones and devices are used by your children in your household network and can effectively manage parental controls for these devices.
  • Try to ask children about their ‘online day’ naturally. You can bring this topic up when they tell you about their day at school.  
  • Keep in mind that children can circumvent numerous technical parental controls as there are a lot of guides on how to disable parental control tools.
  • Ultimately the greatest “tool” you have for making sure your child is safe online is a trusting relationship with your child so that they know what dangers to look out for and feel comfortable coming to you for help when they find something suspicious.
  • Be mindful that you only have access to the parental controls on your child’s devices. There is no guarantee that your child’s friends have these tools enabled on their devices as well. 

How to Enable Parental Controls on Different Apps

Here is a list of a few apps that give knowledge on enabling parental controls and ensuring online safety by using free tools on some apps and devices. 

  • iPhone Parental Controls

Prohibit specific apps and content. Establish screen time limits. If your children have their iPhones, add their devices to your ‘family’ by using the phone’s Screen Time settings. 

  • YouTube Safety Mode

The YouTube safety mode prevents mature content. Go to settings and hit the “Restricted Mode” to turn the on safety feature. 

Social Network Privacy Settings

If you allow your children to have social network accounts, you can always friend them through your own accounts and help them filter out who can and cannot follow them. You can also help your children set up their accounts and keep your child’s information and activity restricted to their friends only for additional privacy and security. Decide who can find your children on social media by opening social network account and applying appropriate settings.

Make sure you and your children know where the “Block User” and “Report” tools are and learn how to identify suspicious accounts that might try to get in contact with them, and how to identify suspicious accounts that post fake, inappropriate, or malicious content as well to help prevent them from following those accounts.

Parental Controls in Vilo Living 

With the Vilo Living app, you have the following options for parental controls for any devices while they are connected online within your home network. 

Allow Internet Access:

Allow or disallow internet access to selected devices. This feature allows parents to quickly turn off internet access for your children’s devices in the case of needing an immediate online time-out.

Schedule Off Time:

This option lets users schedule single or multiple periods when the selected device will not have internet access such as during studying or resting times. Hit the “Add a Schedule” button, modify the start and end times, and click “Okay”. 

Block Websites:

You can also block harmful sites in the Blocked Website section by clicking “Add a URL.”

How To Improve Subscriber Experience With A Mesh Wi-Fi System

As an ISP you are most likely always looking for ways to better serve your customers. From improved connections and speeds to overall customer service experience, ensuring your customers are happy is a guaranteed way to ensure the success of your business. However, in order to improve your subscriber’s needs, you must first understand what those wants and needs are.

1 – Whole Home Coverage

These days people want to be connected in all corners of their homes, from the living room to the back corner office, people want to be connected. This is why whole-home coverage is essential for modern households. How do you accomplish this?

With a traditional single router, your customer’s home network is limited:

  • Limited signal coverage, single AP.
  • If using extenders, need to manually switch between networks.
  • Poor signal strength to support IoT devices. 

With a Mesh Wi-Fi system, these problems are quickly solved

  • A 3-pack of Vilos covers 4,500 sq ft
  • Seamless connection – no need to switch to another network
  • A 3-pack can connect up to 120 devices
  • Cost-effective (starts at $25 USD per router)

But that’s not all…

2 – Control Over Their Network and Settings

Most router setups don’t allow customers to have direct access to their network settings, let alone additional features such as parental controls and guest networks. Features such as these not only gives your customer further insight into their own network it is an additional selling point for the ISP. By offering add-on services ISPs are able to offer an enhanced service and often at an enhanced price.

With the Vilo App customers can easily:

  • Configure Parental Controls
  • Customize Wi-Fi access & set up Guest Wi-Fi
  • Manage connected devices & monitor usage
  • Change SSID & Password 
  • And more!

By how can you be one step ahead of the customer in network management?

3 – When Issues Arise, You (the ISP) Can Quickly Fix Them

The Vilo ISP Portal allows you to quickly & remotely troubleshoot network issues without having to do a truck roll.

You can:

  • Run speed tests
  • Reboot router
  • View signal strength & history
  • Detect channel interference & change channels
  • Push firmware upgrades
  • And so much more!

With a Vilo mesh Wi-Fi system, you can give your customer the ultimate home Wi-Fi experience while reducing your expenses and truck rolls.

Learn more about Vilo for ISPs here.

How Much Internet Do You Really Need?

We see ads for “fast internet” everywhere, but what is the difference between a 20 Mbps and a 200 Mbps internet package? You may be surprised to learn that you might not be able to notice the difference in speed at all, depending on your household size and average bandwidth use.

Since 2007, the average internet connection speed has gone from around 4 Mbps to 19 Mbsp. While both of those numbers might seem tiny, there is a massive difference in internet quality between these two points. But depending on how many household members like to watch Netflix on their SHD smart tvs at the same time, you might not notice a marked increase in quality after even 20 Mbps.

Why?

Mbps stands for “megabits per second” and typically refers to the total volume of data that you can either download or upload at any given second. If you’re trying to go beyond your bandwidth means, you’ll notice delays in page loading, frequent buffering stops on videos, and possibly won’t be able to show your face on video calls at all. This means you need as many Mbps as you can afford to get the best quality experience for all of these things, right? Nope.

Each webpage or app only contains a limited amount of data that needs to be transferred at any single moment. Netflix for example, recommends that to enjoy their shows and movies, you should have the following bandwidth:

Yes, you’re reading that right. You only need 15 Mbps of bandwidth to be able to enjoy UHD Netflix streaming. And this is one of the largest bandwidth hogs of the internet. But, if you were to have a 15 Mbps plan and then tried to run any other apps or do any other browsing at the same time as streaming a UHD show, you would notice dips in quality and extremely slow browsing. This is because you have reached your bandwidth capacity.

That means that if you have multiple household members who use data intensive applications such as Zoom, Netflix, TikTok, Facebook etc. at any given time, you would all probably benefit from having a plan that could accommodate everyone at your peak times.

And that’s just for download speed. Most plans barely even talk about their upload bandwidth, but if you are someone who makes a lot of video calls to family members or for work, or you want to have a side hustle as a Twitch streamer, you need to check the upload bandwidth capacity separately.

And even if you do have a 5 Gbps plan, if you have terrible ping times you’re still going to suffer from slow page loads or video buffering.

Ping time (also known as latency) is how long it physically takes for the data to transfer between the server and your device. This is arguably more impactful than bandwidth especially after around 25 Mbps, but is affected by physical distance as well as any devices (ex modem, router, extender, or mesh system) in between your screen and the original server where the data originates from. This is why having a good router and seamless Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home (such as with the Vilo Mesh Wi-Fi System) is critical to improving your internet experience.

You can check out how much your average bandwidth usage is at peak hours by checking the Vilo App!

Just go into your Network -> Usage Report (make sure reporting is turned on in the settings) ->select your Wi-Fi Network as a whole to look at in detail, and check out what the peak data usage hours are for today, or what it was in total for any day over the last week or month.

Note that this is reported in Mbph (Megabites per hour) in the day view, but you can come up with a rough estimate of how much bandwidth your household uses by just dividing that by 6 (this assumes you aren’t just flipping at lightning speed through 1 Mb pages every second, but rather every few minutes with some extra leeway for larger pages, streams, or applications). 

The Best Wi-Fi For Your Smart Devices

The Rise of Smart Devices

Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you no doubt did some shopping the past few weeks, and we can’t blame you, there were some great deals this year! It probably comes as no surprise that the most purchased items this sale season were tech products. More specifically, smart tech devices, essentially a device that needs Wi-Fi to operate. USA Today listed the 10 most popular products bought from Black Friday to Cyber Monday and while some of them are the more standard household items many of the items on the list were smart tech items, including a few of our favorites such as the Roomba Vacuum, the Apple MacBook Air, and the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset.

What do all these awesome products have in common? They all need a Wi-Fi connection to function. And while you probably have Wi-Fi already in your home is your Wi-Fi capable of handling all these devices? You need a strong signal that spans all corners of your home, from the front door to the back patio and the basement in between. You want to ensure your Wi-Fi signal can cover it all so your smart devices can connect and function properly. You not only need coverage from your network but also a network that can handle multiple devices being connected at once.

Wi-Fi for Smart Devices

So how do you get a Wi-Fi network that can handle all of your fun new tech toys? Easy, you get a mesh Wi-Fi system. But what is mesh?

Mesh Wi-Fi works differently than a typical Wi-Fi network, outdated Wi-Fi routers and traditional set ups weren’t designed for the smart homes of the future and extenders only help occasionally but they create a fragmented network that causes drops in coverage. Mesh covers your entire home in a seamless Wi-Fi network that gives you a strong signal in every corner of your home. With a continuous network throughout your home, you can easily use smart tech devices wherever you please, even the back patio or basement office. To learn more about how mesh Wi-Fi works check out this blog post all about mesh.

Now you know you need mesh Wi-Fi for your smart tech devices how do you pick the best Mesh Wii-Fi System? Vilo Living has got you covered, literally. A Vilo 3-Pack can cover up to 4,500 square feet in strong Wi-Fi signal and connect up to 120 devices at once. So, you can have all the smart bulbs, security cameras, Roombas, and smart TVs you want and in any area of your home. No more dead zones, no more limiting devices, with Vilo you can do it all. And the best part; a Vilo 3-pack costs only $79.99, making it the cheapest Mesh Wi-Fi on the market.

Get the Wi-Fi your new smart devices need, get Vilo. Click here to buy Vilo now.

How Vilos Can Make Your ISP Money

As one of the first ISPs to adopt Vilos into their business plan, KentuckyFi owner John Gill had some awesome tips and tricks for other ISPs looking to increase their ROI on Vilos.

Check out John’s analysis of how to make money with Vilos:

There are multiple ways to recoup the cost of Vilo routers from your customers. By switching to Vilos, you are using a product at a price point that can easily make you money. Remember with your ISP you should be starting a business, not a bill. Below you will find three plans set to make your ROI fast and easy!

Vilo ISP ROI

PLAN A – FASTEST ROI 

For the fastest ROI, you can build the cost of the Vilos into the install fee that you charge your customer. This will allow you to offset the cost of the Vilos and not lose any more money upfront. However, the tradeoff is that the install fee is much more expensive. This plan is not recommended if you have competitors that are offering free or cheaper installs.

PLAN B – FAST ROI

With this, you will lose some on your install, but if you retain your customer, you will get your ROI in about 3 months with a price of $60/month for internet service. This is with an install fee of $180. The profit of install over 3 months is $10. This is a better option than Plan A, but still not great if your competition is giving out free or $50 installs.

PLAN C – SMART ROI

Well, how do you keep making money with Vilo? You market the Vilos to make money for you. First, you price your install at something that makes sense for your market and ISP. Then, you add a monthly fee for the Vilo units and market it as an upgraded Wi-Fi experience. Kentucky Fi does $10/month for up to 3 units and a $50 installation fee to the customer. This pays for 90% of the Vilo units and now the Vilos will help pay off the other costs. After everything is paid for, you are generating $10 more in revenue a month than before.

I hope this article gives you a few ideas on how Vilo can help make money for your ISP!

John Gill

Owner

KentuckyFi (kentuckyfi.com)