Bark Technologies and Vilo Living Announce Partnership

Bark and Vilo

Bark’s Award-Winning Parental Controls Integrated into Vilo’s Mesh Wi-Fi Routers

ATLANTA – February 28, 2023 – Bark Technologies today announced a partnership with Vilo Living, the Seattle-based technology startup with a mission to make easy, affordable, and reliable Wi-Fi connectivity available to anyone through their mesh hardware and remote management solutions. This partnership will enable Vilo users to benefit from the online safety leader’s parental control solutions by integrating in-home parental controls within Vilo’s mesh  Wi-Fi systems at no extra cost to all of Vilo’s end users based in the U.S. 

Founded in 2015 by Brian Bason, a tech executive and father of two, Bark is known for developing highly sophisticated, AI-powered parental safety tools that include a newly launched smartphone, an app, a local network hardware device, school-specific monitoring systems, the Parenting in a Tech World book, and other educational resources that help keep more than 6.5 million children safe at home and in more than 3,400 schools and districts nationwide.

As the first partnership to offer Bark’s safety tools within a mesh Wi-Fi system available directly to consumers, the Bark/Vilo integration can help safeguard connected devices within the home, allowing parents to manage when their kids can access the internet by setting custom schedules and screen time rules. Parents can also choose to block or allow access to online gaming and streaming sites or simply pause the internet whenever kids need a break.

“As Bark’s first integration with a mesh router platform available directly to consumers, we are thrilled to be partnering with Vilo across their product line, including their new Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems,” said Skylar Walker, vice president of business development at Bark. “Vilo has done an impressive job of creating a high-quality product at an affordable price point, and now offers the premier safety filtering tool as part of their product.” 

Vilo’s AC1200 mesh Wi-Fi system which provides coverage up to 1,500 sq. ft. is now integrated with Bark’s in-home parental controls. The newly released Vilo 6 AX1800 which can cover up to 2,000 sq. ft. per unit will be soon integrated with Bark as well. Vilo customers can activate parental controls powered by Bark directly from their Vilo app and manage their Bark Parental control settings by installing the Bark Parent app.

“We are incredibly excited about this partnership,” said Jessie Zhou, co-founder and CEO of Vilo. “For end users, Bark offers a superior parental control experience that gives them control over any device connected to the Vilo network. For our ISP customers, this gives them a competitive edge and enables them to provide exceptional subscriber experience at no extra cost.”
Visit www.viloliving.com/bark-in-home for more information.

About Bark

Bark is an award-winning parental control app that helps protect 6.5 million children at home and in more than 3,400 schools and districts nationwide. Bark is currently available in the U.S., South Africa, and Australia. Using highly sophisticated artificial intelligence, Bark alerts families to concerning behaviors in a variety of categories, including cyberbullying, depression, suicidal ideation, violence, and online predation, and gives caregivers best next steps for how to address those issues. Bark monitors more than 30 of today’s most popular social media platforms and apps, as well as text messages, images, videos, chats, emails, and files. Families also get the ability to create custom screen time schedules, block websites and apps, and receive location alerts when kids are on the go. Visit www.bark.us for more information.

About Vilo

Based in Seattle, WA, Vilo Living is a technology startup with a mission to make easy, affordable, and reliable Wi-Fi connectivity available to anyone, anywhere. Through our integrated mesh Wi-Fi hardware and remote management solution known as Vilo for ISPs, we empower ISPs of all sizes to delight their customers with an enhanced Wi-Fi experience at home, reduce operating and support cost, and grow their business.

FCC Considering Fixed Wireless as a Solution 

Commissioner Brendan Carr and John Gill

NICHOLASVILLE, KY—On Tuesday, Commissioner Brendan Carr of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) met with wireless internet service provider (WISP) and Kentucky Fi owner, John Gill. The two spoke about the essential role small internet service providers (ISPs) play in bringing connection to underserved areas as they stood by one of John’s 60-foot internet towers. 

“The small farms and family homes that are spread across rural Jessamine County, Kentucky have been stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide,” Commissioner Carr tweeted on Tuesday. “That’s now changing thanks to John and his scrappy Internet upstart, which is now offering 100 Mbps high-speed service.” 

Later in his Twitter thread, Carr noted how ISPs like Gill are facing “federal headwinds” because “the government is poised to treat these customers getting 100 Mbps as if they get 0, then waste scarce [funding] overbuilding them.” 

Carr is referring to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program, a $42.5 billion program intended to fund the expansion of high-speed internet access and use to unserved areas. The issue lies in the NTIA’s current parameters for areas considered to be unserved, which are areas without access to 100/20 Mbps service and/or relies on unlicensed spectrum.  

Gill’s Kentucky Fi provides 100 Mbps service to its customers, but because the network relies on unlicensed spectrum, the NTIA doesn’t recognize Kentucky Fi’s service, thus the potential for overbuilding and the wasting of BEAD funds as noted by Carr. What’s more, ISPs that don’t meet the NTIA’s current criteria, like Kentucky Fi, can’t qualify for BEAD funding. 

Photo of Commissioner Brendan Carr (left) and Kentucky Fi Owner John Gill (right) from Carr’s Twitter profile

Gill’s optimism after meeting with the Commissioner 

After meeting with Commissioner Carr, Gill says he’s optimistic for the future of fixed wireless providers now that the FCC is beginning to understand their value. “[Carr] was very taken aback by how affordable fixed wireless is compared to fiber,” Gill explained. “I told him the tower we were standing by cost me $2500 and serves 25 customers within a three-mile radius, which is quite the difference compared to the $30,000 – $60,000 per mile rate for fiber.” 

While fiber can provide superior speeds and better stability, Gill says wireless is the better fit for rural areas. “When there are only ten homes for every mile, fixed wireless is the better solution,” he explains. 

According to Gill, Carr appeared pragmatic when it comes to providing internet to rural areas. “Carr is an ally for not just fixed wireless but the right solution for the job,” Gill said, indicating Carr’s consideration for WISPs using unlicensed spectrum as a viable option in certain circumstances. 

Image of one of Kentucky Fi’s towers provided by John Gill

Another roadblock for many smaller ISPs hoping to qualify for the BEAD program is the NTIA’s minimum speeds requirement. Gill indicated that the topic came up in his conversation with the Commissioner. “From what I gather from Commissioner Carr, and my personal experience as an ISP, families of four can easily get by on 25/2 Mbps,” says Gill. “You’re not disconnected. Your kids can still play video games and watch Netflix.” 

Gill also asked Carr about whether or not the FCC is considering pushing for fining ISPs who report inaccurate Broadband Data Collections (BDC). Intentionally falsifying BDCs is an insidious tactic in the industry that hurts small ISPs. Earlier this year, Ohio-based ISP Ryan Grewell discovered that one of his competitors lied about their network’s service area to the FCC with the intention to block funding to Grewell.   

Carr indicated that the FCC will be looking into such cases and intends hold people accountable who abuse the system, according to Gill. 

This visit with John Gill and Kentucky Fi is one of many to come for Commissioner Carr as he’s currently embarking on a two-month road trip to meet with providers. And after meeting with Carr, Gill is confident that the FCC is considering fixed wireless as a solution. “I feel like now we’re not overlooked,” he says. “He’s seeing what we’re doing and taking it into consideration.” 

Why am I reading this on Vilo’s website? 

Vilo Living is a managed mesh Wi-Fi solutions provider that partners with ISPs like John Gill of Kentucky Fi. Gill and Vilo have had a working relationship ever since Gill first met the Vilo team at Wispapalooza 2021. Vilo is committed to being a trusted ISP partner and serving the WISP community. “At Vilo, we care about your business, because your success is our success,” says Vilo CEO Jessie Zhou.

At last year’s Wispapalooza conference, Gill was invited to be a keynote speaker and sported a Vilo hat as he spoke about starting Kentucky Fi in September 2020 and growing from a handful of customers to having coverage to over 900 homes.   

“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,” Gill said in his Wispapalooza address. “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. The customer wants a satisfying product, and Vilo does the same thing for an ISP.” 

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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Who’s making these 3D-printed Vilo wall mounts?

3d printed Vilo mount

In July of 2022, Cannon Vickery, owner of Vickery IT in Emmett, Idaho, posted images of 3D-printed Vilo wall mounts to Vilo Living’s Facebook group. “If anyone is interested, this guy will make wall brackets for Vilos,” Cannon wrote in his post. “They work great for us!” 

The guy Cannon referred to is his neighbor, Brian Gregory. The second-generation owner of a promotional products business, Brian is used to getting creative. And over the years, he has received more and more help running things thanks to his wife and their five children. In fact, it was his sons that convinced Brian to purchase their first 3D printer. Not long after, Cannon came over with a Wi-Fi router in his hand. 

“Cannon dropped one of these [Vilos] off at my shop and said, ‘Hey, can you make a bracket for that?’ I go, ‘Yeah, sure!’ So I took it out of the box, took the dimensions, and we built a bracket that looks good and is sturdy and easy to use,” Brian recalls. 

Vilo wall mount maker Brian Gregory (lower right) and his family.

Less than a year later, Brian has printed and shipped around 100 Vilo wall mounts to ISPs in Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, and more. “All this was generated from [Cannon’s] post,” says Brian. “It’s been an interesting adventure for us!” 

Brian charges $8.50 per wall mount and will priority ship to anywhere in the US. With only two 3D printers at his disposal, it usually takes Brian about three days to fulfill an average order, so he tries to keep some preprinted mounts on the side as well, just in case. Brian also makes corner-oriented brackets for mounting Vilos, and wall mounts for airCubes by Ubiquiti.  

Brian’s 3D printed wall mounts for Vilos

“I can do all kinds of different things,” he added, explaining his willingness to get creative for printing requests from ISPs. For instance, Brian can print the wall mounts in different colors, or for ISPs looking for a way to keep Vilos stationery on various surfaces or angles, Brian is open to designing a solution.  

The best way to place an order for Vilo wall mounts is to email Brian at gregory3dcreations@gmail.com. Brian also accepts orders through his son’s Etsy store at Gregory3DCreations.  

More on Vickery IT 

Vickery IT is an Idaho-based WISP that opened for business three years ago when Cannon Vickery teamed up with his two brothers to provide reliable internet to Emmett residents. Emmett is a small town near Boise with a population close to 10k. Today, Vickery IT provides internet to about 700 subscribers and anticipates hitting 1k subscribers by the end of the year. 

Two of the three Vickery brothers who own and operate Vickery IT, an Emmett, Idaho-based WISP

“We started using Vilo about six months ago,” says Cannon, “because of the reviews we had seen from other ISP’s. Overall, we have really liked the Vilo router, and we love the ISP portal.” Cannon reports getting a great performance out of Vilo’s Wi-Fi 5 model in average-sized houses. And, outside of the firmware issue from last week that’s since been resolved, Cannon says they’ve been “impressed with the Vilo 6.” 

“I also should mention we really appreciate how transparent and good at communicating the Vilo team is,” Cannon added. “We appreciate what the team at Vilo does in making our jobs easier.” 

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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The Vilo 6 and Beyond

Vilo 6

It’s no secret that when Vilo first launched its Wi-Fi 5 mesh routers in July 2021, the product had its fair share of limitations as it initially was a consumer-oriented product. But thanks to the feedback and suggestions from Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the original Vilo mesh Wi-Fi system experienced a significant evolution within a year’s time. With the first iteration of the Vilo’s Wi-Fi 6 model on the market today, it’s only a matter of time before the value of the Vilo 6 incrementally increases too! 

In July 2021, the first Vilo mesh Wi-Fi router became publicly available. Initially developed for end users, the Vilo’s meshing capabilities provided a scalable home Wi-Fi option and remains one of the most affordable mesh routers on the market.  

However, after hearing from ISPs who needed a comprehensive Wi-Fi management platform at Wispapalooza 2021, the Vilo team realized a greater potential for their product and made it their mission to become a trusted ISP solutions provider.  

Vilo Co-Founders Man Zheng (left) and Amie Hsu (right) at Wispapalooza 2021

Immediately, they began partnering with ISPs to see what new features were needed to solve their pain points, even launching a public roadmap where ISPs could post their requests. In addition to performance and speed improvements to the Vilo router, new features were implemented like bridge mode, port-forwarding, remote configuration, and more. Vilo also wasted no time launching its cloud-based ISP Management Portal in October 2021. 

As Vilo’s name grew in the industry, so did Vilo’s mesh Wi-Fi system’s capabilities, making it an even more powerful and feature-rich mesh system. Some ISPs have even taken notice of how quick Vilo has been to increase the value of its products. 

“You know when you provide feedback? There are multiple vendors out there I provide feedback for that goes nowhere,” said Tom Magg of Community Broadband Networks at Wispapalooza 2022, exactly a year after Vilo’s initial launch. “With Vilo, every piece of feedback I’ve provided to them I actually see coming out in this next release.”   

Flash forward to December 2023, Vilo launched its next generation of mesh Wi-Fi routers, the Vilo 6. The Vilo 6 is an AX1800 router that provides up to 2,000 sq. ft. of coverage per unit and speeds up to 1 Gbps. Meshing a 2-pack together provides up to 4,000 sq. ft. of coverage. Other noteworthy features include Hardware NAT, IPV6 support, WPA3, and more!

And like Vilo’s Wi-Fi 5 model when it was first released in 2021, this is just the beginning for Vilo’s Wi-Fi 6 model. In fact, new features are on the horizon already, including VLAN management and VLAN tagging, which are anticipated to be available in the second quarter of 2023; not to mention all the other feature requests from ISPs that will potentially be available in the future! 

You can click here to order your Vilo 6 today and hop on our public roadmap to let us know what features you’d like to see implemented next! If you’re curious to see how far Vilo’s solutions have come since 2021, you can check out our public release notes here

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! 

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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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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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