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!” 

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Vilo News Digest for August 2022

Vilo News

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

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

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

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

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

The Brothers WISP Podcast: “Vilo Sponsor Introduction and Highlight 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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