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!

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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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August Webinar Recap: Maximizing Revenue from Your Subscribers 

maximize revenue with Vilo

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

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

Vilo Webinar August 2022: Maximizing revenue with Vilo

Vilo’s affordable products and services for ISPs 

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

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

Renting out additional units 

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

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

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

Offer managed wi-fi services 

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

Vilo Webinar August 2022: Maximizing revenue with Vilo

Save on truck roll and support costs with the ISP Portal 

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

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

Brand credibility 

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

A true partner 

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

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

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

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