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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Comparing Vilo 6 with its competitors

Comparing Vilo 6 with its Competitors (1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vilo 6 Unboxing

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

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

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

Discover Vilo’s ISP Solutions!

Vilo Living provides complete Wi-Fi hardware and remote management solutions that empower ISPs of any size to delight your customers, reduce your operating costs, and grow your business. Schedule a demo today!

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Streamline your Vilo install to save money and time

Vilo Install

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

Prerequisites:

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

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

Vilo Install Image submitted by Ben Cantymagli of Hometown Internet

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

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

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

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

A note about remote configuration

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

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

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

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

Byron Sierra ISP of the Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Vilo 6 AMA Webinar Recap

Vilo 6 AMA webinar

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

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

A slide from the Vilo 6 AMA Webinar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ISP of the Month: Dalton Gilmore of SpeedFi Inc.

Dalton Gilmore of SpeedFi Inc.

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

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

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

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

Dalton Gilmore, owner of SpeedFi Inc.

SpeedFi Inc in Kingston, Canada 

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

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

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

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

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

SpeedFi and Vilo 

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Airbnb and a lot of profanity 

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

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

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

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

One of SpeedFi’s towers in Kingston, Canada

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

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

What’s next for SpeedFi

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

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

Discover Vilo’s ISP solutions! 

Vilo Living provides complete Wi-Fi hardware and remote management solutions that empower ISPs of any size to delight your customers, reduce your operating costs, and grow your business. Schedule a demo today! 

Schedule a demo

ISP of the Month: Chief Se’khu of RedFi Broadband 

RedFi Broadband

“My tribe’s need for internet when Covid dropped is why RedFi exists to this day,” says Chief Se’khu Hadjo Gentle. Chief Se’khu, 48, founded RedFi Broadband in 2020 to ensure that his tribe, the Yamassee people in Allendale, South Carolina, could access telehealth services.  

Chief of the Yamassee Indian Tribe

Chief Se’khu has held many titles, including director, writer, cinematographer, WISP Owner, historian, and even firefighter. In fact, he was on-call at his reservation’s fire station during his interview with the Vilo team. 

“I’m always trying to give my time to the community as much as possible,” he said over Zoom. “So if the tones drop, which is them telling us there’s a 911 call, I may have to do the interview en route” he laughed. 

Of all of his titles, it’s clear that “Chief” is the most important to him. After dispelling Hollywood’s portrayal of chiefs, Chief Se’khu explained, “Chiefs, true chiefs, are not leaders at all; they’re actually servants. So I’m the servant first of my people. I’m the voice of my people.”  

His people, the Yamassee Indian Tribe, was thought to be extinct. According to the Chief, historians and genealogists recently investigated their ancestry and found that the Yamassee people had merely been renamed and reclassified as the “Seminole” people.  

“My jurisdiction as Chief is wherever my people are,” he added. Most of the Yamassees reside in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.  

RedFi Broadband and reliable internet during Covid

RedFi Broadband was founded on Chief Se’khu’s devotion to his people. In 2020, when the Covid pandemic reached South Carolina and the elders of his tribe were unable to go to the doctors and the children couldn’t attend school, Chief Se’khu knew he had to take action. 

“That put me in a position where my leadership skills had to kick in,” he recalls. “I can’t wait and depend on a government agency or someone else to do it for us. That’s never how we have been as native people.” 

Before starting RedFi Broadband, Chief Se’khu ran a telecommunications store front for his tribe. Though he knew how to run cable and follow instructions to set up another company’s equipment, he knew very little about running his own internet services. And with the added internet demands during Covid, the service they had at the time “was not cutting it.” 

Chief Se’khu recalls studying YouTube videos to learn how to set up his own WISP. With the help of his mother and wife, RedFi Broadband was successfully providing internet to eight customers by the end of their first year. Today, RedFi has nine part-time employees, most of whom are the Chief’s fellow firefighters, and provides internet access to over 300 customers covering roughly 10-square miles.  

RedFi provides internet at no expense to a large portion of its customers, as Allendale is an impoverished area with nearly a 40% poverty rate according to the latest Census data. “So a lot of people here can’t necessarily afford internet, especially the elders,” Chief Se’khu explains.  

RedFi and the WISP community

Chief Se’khu attributes a lot of RedFi’s growth to knowledge and confidence he gained from being in the WISP community. “I have seen the smartest people in the WISP industry that I have ever seen in my life. The WISP community and smaller ISPs do things that larger ISPs can’t even fathom—with all of the creative ideas to get the job done.” 

It hasn’t been smooth sailing for RedFi Broadband, though. In April 2022, an EF-3 tornado tore through Allendale, damaging several properties and destroying a large portion of RedFi’s equipment in the process. Chief Se’khu remains grateful to the members of the WISP community who came to his peoples’ aid shortly thereafter.  

“People in the WISP community started giving us equipment, and no one asked for any money.” he began. “And Vilo came in and donated as many [routers] as we needed. They donated whatever we asked for. That is important at the end of the day, because if you’re going to do business with a company, do business with a company that cares.”  

Chief Se’khu’s experience with Vilo

Chief Se’khu first discovered Vilo when a friend introduced him to our affordable routers. “When you’re in an impoverished area like we are here, I can’t go to these people and say, ‘Hey, here’s a $400 mesh system that you need to have to make sure your house is covered,” he said. 

When his first 3-pack of Vilos arrived, he was using a Linksys router at the time that was connected to RedFi’s fiber head-in near his office. “With the Linksys router, I was probably getting about 120 Mbps down, and I thought that was great at the time. When I installed the Vilo router, I instantly jumped to 400 Mbps. And I’m like, ‘Okay, hold-up, what is this?’ And so it sparked my interest.” 

From that sparked interest, Chief Se’khu became one of Vilo’s earliest beta testers and loved how all the ideas he suggested to Vilo’s cofounders were not only welcomed, but often implemented. “No other company is working with the WISP community the way Vilo is,” he said. “I’ve watched Vilo actively shift and change based on the advice of their customers—people like me, and that says wonders. It says they’re in it for the long-game.” 

In the early days of RedFi, the Chief ran into challenges such as a lack of visibility into his customers’ networks and the ability to remotely manage them. “We were installing routers that we had no control over, and had no insights on, so Vilo helped us with that hurdle because now we’re able to monitor our customers’ networks—we’re able to manage their experiences through the ISP portal.” 

Chief Se’khu also noted how invaluable analytic insights are for an ISP. “Being able to go into the customer’s accounts, having the numbers and the information, which is what Vilo offers, plays such a large role in making business decisions,” he explained.  

The future of RedFi and the Chief’s advice

RedFi also provides security cameras and alarm system services. Moving forward, Chief Se’khu plans on expanding RedFi’s reach into more rural areas and to be “a one-stop shop for anything that connects to the internet.”  

His intention to expand, again, is motivated by his commitment to his people. As Allendale is an hour and a half away from the nearest large city, providing every internet-related service possible alleviates the high costs of having technicians commute all that way. 

With gratitude for all he has learned from his fellow WISP owners, Chief Se’khu offered this piece of advice in return: “Don’t rush. Take your time and think outside the box.”  

When he began researching what it took to start a WISP, Chief Se’khu believed that heighth was key; that he needed a 120 ft. tower. “That wasn’t the case,” he said, “I’m able to get to whatever location I need using micropops; I’m on the ground, I’m only 20 ft. in the air. So don’t rush, take your time, plan it out so you can do it right the first time and not have to do it over again.” 

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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Best Practices: Installing Vilo in MDU Spaces

Installing Vilo in MDU spaces

The purpose of this guide is to provide best practices, suggestions, and prerequisites to be aware of when installing Vilos in multiple dwelling units such as apartments, hotels, condos, etc. While we lack POE support and an official Vilo-licensed wall-mount, we believe our hardware and software are primed for installation in these environments. 

How can this help you and your customers?

We’ve introduced multiple features to help maximize your time when it comes to the installation process. Utilizing our remote configuration suite in combination with our separate pre-mesh feature, ISPs can complete most of the leg work prior to installing Vilos on-site at a customer’s home. Once the Vilo has been configured, it can be installed remotely (as long as you are using a DHCP configuration and the firmware is on version 19, and the Vilo is plugged in and connected to the modem via the WAN port).

Pre-Setup & Installation

This section will help prepare you for the installation process:

  1. Be sure to scan all Vilos into the Vilo inventory. We suggest doing this as soon as you get your inventory.
  2. If the firmware version of the Vilo is lower than v197, you will need to manually install the Vilo via the app. This must be completed to configure Vilos remotely.  
  3. If you are using a DHCP configuration, our remote configuration feature allows you to set up a Vilo network with a Custom SSID and password prior to installation, eliminating the need for the Vilo app. You can do this for multiple Vilos using our Bulk Actions option. 
  4. If you are using PPPoE or Static IP, the remote configuration feature will not be an option. We suggest setting up the Vilos in a testing environment first when upgrading the firmware, eliminating the need to be completed once on site. With the Vilos scanned into inventory and the firmware up to date, this will cut back on installation times so that end-users can connect to the network without first having to wait for the firmware upgrade to complete. Other bulk actions that may be useful:
    1. Assign: You can use our assign function from the inventory page to associate routers with customers created on the Customers Page. This is exclusive to the portal and only serves as an organizational feature. It is not the same as assigning a network to a customer from the app, allowing them to download the Vilo App and manage the network themselves.
    2. Update Note: The “Update Note” feature allows you to create notes for different Mac addresses, such as addresses or customer information that you may find on the customer’s page. 

Scenarios & Reminders

This section will provide helpful reminders, as well as scenarios to keep in mind:

  • If you opted for one network that is shared between multiple customers, we suggest adding additional sub-Vilos where necessary to meet coverage demands. Reminder: Setting up a network in this particular scenario would disallow service for everyone on the network. The only workaround would be to block connected devices of the customers who have not paid. 
  • If you opted to install a single network per unit (hotel room, apartment, etc), then we suggest optimizing the Wi-Fi to address any Wi-Fi interference issues that may arise. This can be done in the Vilo ISP Portal or the Vilo App
  • While there is no official Vilo wall mount, we encourage the use of third-party options to get around this. Below is one example of a third-party wall mount provider.
These Vilo wall mounts were 3D-printed by Brian Gregory. For ordering and pricing information, email Brian at gregory3dcreations@gmail.com.

Post-Setup: Wi-Fi Networks & Bulk Actions

This section will cover the different ways in which our portal can help you manage your customers after installation. 

While there are more individual settings that can be viewed by clicking into each network, our bulk actions provide a list of tools to help with network maintenance and troubleshooting, while also making it easy to disallow service if necessary:

  • Network maintenance: Upgrade Firmware, Turn on/off Automatic Firmware Upgrade
  • Troubleshooting: Run Speed Test, Restart Vilos (Optimizes Wi-Fi networks) 
  • Billing issues: Allow/Disallow Internet Access  

Upcoming features:

  • VLAN Support
  • Setup Without Internet Connection

With more awareness of how our Vilo ISP Portal can help decrease installation times for MDU setups, we hope these best practices can help you reach more customers in less time, increasing your user base while ensuring your customers have hardware and service they can rely on.

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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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! 

Schedule a demo