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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Is your network ready for Vilo 6?

Is your network ready for Vilo 6?

Vilo 6 is not just Vilo with Wi-Fi 6, but a redesign in the same compact, easy-to-place Vilo case. We started with the chipset and settled on the Mediatek MT7621AT, which is used across the market from Asus to Ubiquiti. 

Once we got the chipset down, we moved on to the OS. We looked at everyone’s needs from ISPs to end users, and found that OpenWRT was the best fit. So no matter if you need Vlans for your ISP or a better SQM (Smart Queue Management) for your home lab, Vilo is the right fit. 

Now, those upgrades sound great, but how will the Vilo 6 perform? It was time to test that. We set up a simple lab for testing where the Vilo WAN port is connected to a network switch and on the same switch is a speed test server. However, we never turned off other access points and routers in our office, so the RF environment was as real-world as it gets. 

The first test is what we like to call the “same-room” test, where we conducted two speed tests in the same room as the main Vilo: one hardwired and one wireless. 

Same room (5 to 10ft)

*All results are average across 10 tests.

DownloadUploadPingJitter
Wired to Main Vilo984.29 Mbps994.29 Mbps1.7 ms0.74 ms
Wireless to Main Vilo897.57 Mbps589.57 Mbps3.7 ms1.87 ms

As you can see, the same room tests are outstanding, but you don’t stay in the same room. What about if you’re on the toilet watching TikTok you need to make sure Vilo is there for you? Let’s move on to the next room test and meshing tests, which were conducted in the same lab and RF environment. 

Next room (20ft and through a wall)

*All results are average across 10 tests.

DownloadUploadPingJitter
Wired to Sub Vilo446.86 Mbps425.86 Mbps2.84 ms1.62 ms
Wireless to Sub Vilo (client 5 ft away)336.00 Mbps309.00 Mbps4.06 ms2.20 ms
Wireless to Main Vilo559.14 Mbps436.86 Mbps3.6 ms1.38 ms

If you think your networks are ready for the Vilo 6, sing up to be one of the first to place your order by clicking here (pre-orders starting November 15, 2022).

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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ISP of the Month

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! 

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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!” 

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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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! 

Schedule a demo

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! 

Schedule a demo

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

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.  

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

WISP of the Month: Kyle Robinson of Vertrees Electronics

WISP of the Month Kyle Robinson

From microwaves to providing internet services 

“The middle of fricken nowhere,” is how, Kyle Robinson, 28, describes Vertrees, Kentucky. He and his wife moved there from Bardstown, Kentucky, the Bourbon Capitol of the World, after getting married in 2016. Though he still adores the “itty-bitty” town, he didn’t love the slow internet speeds there when he first arrived. 

“There was three megabit DSL provided by Windstream in Vertrees—absolutely horrible. I got really fed up with their poor speeds and I heard other complaints from my neighbors and everything,” Robinson recalls. “Prior to that, starting a WISP had never crossed my mind. Not once.” 

With ten years of commercial two-way radio, microwave engineering, and I.T. experience under his belt, Robinson decided to research what it would take to start his own internet company. As luck would have it, a friend from his old two-way radio shop had started a WISP himself. “So I started talking to him like, ‘what does it take to start a WISP, man?’” 

From that conversation, Robinson realized that starting a WISP would be easier than he thought. His first step was to find a commercial space to use for a data center and a head-in.  

“I knew I didn’t want to run it out of my house,” Robinson said, explaining that in order to grow his business, he wanted to appear bigger than he actually was at the time. “It’s all about perception,” he added. 

Luck would be on Robinson’s side again because, just as he moved into town, the school building next to him, which was already equipped with fiber cables, closed down and he knew the man who bought it.  

Vertrees Electronics CPE, photo provided by Kyle Robinson.

“So I called him and I said, ‘Look, here’s what I want to do, man. I want to start a business. I know there’s fiber in there. I want to put equipment on the roof so I can shoot to some other sites. And I want to use the old [main distribution frame] and computer lab upstairs.’ And basically, he looked at me and said, ‘go for it.’” 

After ripping out the building’s old I.T. infrastructure, taking out a $10,000 loan for new equipment, installing his own network infrastructure, and successfully connecting to fiber, Robinson was ready to provide internet. But for the first six months, he wanted to test the connection so he only provided internet for himself and his neighbor—who saw Robinson setting up a dish and jumped on the chance to be his first customer. 

“So for about six months it was just me and one other person on it, and it worked fantastic,” he recalls. “And then, you know, my whole neighborhood found out what I was doing and it almost exploded overnight in that area.” 

Within his first two months of officially opening Vertrees Electronics for business, Robinson gained 35 customers. Today, he has around 160 subscribers across 13 sites, covering nearly a quarter of Hardin County, Kentucky. Robinson attributes most of this growth to word-of-mouth advertising, having only spent money on some big bright yellow yard signs he posted around town and a few Facebook ads. 

One of Vertrees Electronics’ yellow signs, photo provided by Kyle Robinson.

Robinson is also a huge proponent of running a personable and responsive business. “One thing that really sets me apart from other companies,” he says, “is if somebody calls me, it doesn’t matter what time of day, you know, it doesn’t matter if it’s after business hours—if I see a voicemail for me, I call them back because you never know what opportunity might be there today.” 

Vertrees Electronics and Vilo Living 

Kyle Robinson became a partner with Vilo Living at the beginning of 2022 after his friend and fellow Kentucky WISP owner, John Gill, insisted he try Vilo’s Mesh Wi-Fi System. “So before Vilo, I tried every kind of router that existed for my customers. I mean, everything,” he says.  

“We tried TP-Links. We tried MikroTiks, and I never could find a good balance of something that was manageable from my end perspective of things, that was easy for me to set up [and] easy to pass control to the customer. And the biggest thing people want now is parental controls and things like that to turn off their child’s devices.” Robinson remembers wishing there was a set up similar Comcast’s Xfinity Home custom cable design but for WISPS, and that’s when Gill helped him discover Vilo Living

Right: Kyle Robinson (Wisp of the Month) of Vertrees Electronics. Left: Cam Lasley of Telecast Communications.

“And from the first time I tried Vilo, I was like, ‘Okay, this is all I’m buying for my customers.’ And now, this is the best thing since sliced bread,” he says, adding how easy Vilo’s system is to set up and manage. “I went through and ripped every old router out of any customer’s house and replaced them with Vilo—every one.” 

Robinson gives all his customers their first Vilo unit for free and gives them the option to expand by selling them additional routers should they need them. The option to expand combined with Vilo’s app and remote management system has made “all the difference in the world” for Vertrees Electronics. 

The ability to collaborate with Vilo on new features has also been a highlight of Robinson’s experience with the brand. “Vilo is the first company I’ve ever worked with in any industry that, when their users give them suggestions, they take it to heart and implement the suggestions. They are the first company I’ve ever worked with that you can say, ‘We want to see this feature,’ and boom, they have it implimented within just a few months time.” 

Vilo Living isn’t the only product that has made a world of difference for Robinson. He also swears by Gorilla Ladders—ladders that have A-frame and extension functions. Robinson was able to replace four different ladders with one 18’ Gorilla Ladder. “It has literally just made my life so easy,” he grins. 

Cody Thompson, a Vertrees Electronics employee replacing a damaged fiber cable, photo provided by Kyle Robinson.

Robinson plans on expanding Vertrees Electronics to service all the underserved rural parts of Southwest Hardin County and Northeast Grayson County. You can follow Vertrees Electronics on Facebook by clicking here, or check out Vertrees Electronic’s website by clicking 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