Possible Interruptions Wednesday 13th

Tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday the 13th) we will be upgrading equipment on Mockingbird Tower in conjunction with the first phase of our bandwidth improvement project. Subscribers homed to Mockingbird and Rio Vista towers may experience slower response and possibly some brief outages on the order of 10-15 minutes in the period between noon and 5 PM, as the tower may need to be rotated down out of service to replace radios at height. These interruptions should affect subscribers of those two towers only.

Problems affecting Mockingbird and Rio Vista Towers

Our downtown feed radio to Mockingbird Tower is now definitely misbehaving. Despite showing good signal and quality, it is not delivering anywhere near the bandwidth it should be. We suspect the unit is undergoing a slow failure mode.

This problem affects subscribers of Mockingbird and Rio Vista towers only.

We have switched to an easier frequency for the ailing radio to handle, and have also activated the backup link between our airport tower and Mockingbird in order to steer more bandwidth into Mockingbird and Rio Vista.

We already have equipment in transit, ordered earlier to replace this unit, scheduled to arrive Wednesday. We expect to have it configured and ready for deployment before Friday close of business. Some brief (~10 minutes) interruptions in service may occur near the end of the week as the new equipment is cut into service.

This situation is receiving our priority attention. We apologize for the degradation.

CenturyLink service interruption January 31

CenturyLink has informed us of a planned interruption of service of between one and three hours to our entire network, sometime between midnight and 6:00 AM on the morning of Thursday, January 31. The interruption is for “scheduled maintenance to upgrade routing engines in order to improve network reliability and to prevent future service interruptions to customer services.”

Occasionally, CenturyLink may reschedule this interruption one or more times before it actually occurs. We will report any changes to the scheduled date and time as notice is received.

Performance improvement cycle begins Thursday

With the growth of our network and increasing frequency competition in Wickenburg, where our gateway is located, we’ve been experiencing some congestion issues delivering services to our subscribers east of the river at certain time periods. This congestion is most noticeable during what networkers call “the Netflix Hour,” or roughly 7:30 to 10:30 each night, and is especially troublesome for subscribers of our Mockingbird and main Morristown towers.

We suspect that this situation is being caused by performance limitations of the radio units running our “long links” eastward between Wickenburg and Morristown. However, despite applying all our standard remedies, we’ve been unable to make a dent in the network’s bottom-line performance; so we may be wrong about the basic cause, or the proper solution, or the issue may simply be an effect of multiple causes.

To address this issue, we’ve engaged a MikroTik consultant to analyze our network performance, identify problem areas, and propose solutions, which may involve anything from retuning to replacement of our current link equipment with other models, brands, or frequencies. 

MikroTik consultants are like fairy godmothers: they can perform astonishing magic on your behalf, but first you need to find one who isn’t busy godmothering another Cinderella. We’ve been working since late November to get one on board to look at our network, and we’re happy to be able to announce that the bibbledy-bobbledy-boo is finally scheduled to begin this Thursday, the 24th.

Subscribers may experience temporary decreased performance issues or even minor outages as out consultant adjusts configuration settings and performs testing. Hopefully, there will be no major impact on your service while this work is in progress.

Service interruption 1 AM tonight

We will be reinitializing and re-securing our main gateway router tonight, in an attempt to correct some strange observed behavior on its part that may possibly be due to either corruption or infiltration. We hope this may also relieve some of the prime-time slowdown behavior we’ve encountered within the past month or so.

We expect our connection to the Internet to be interrupted for about 30 minutes sometime within the window of 01:00 to 02:00 tonight (Sunday morning the 30th). As always, our recorded message at 623-640-7883 will be kept updated for you to verify the status of our network.

CenturyLink service interruption January 8

CenturyLink has informed us of a possible interruption of service of between one and three hours to our entire network, sometime between midnight and 6:00 AM on the morning of Tuesday, January 8. The interruption is for “scheduled maintenance to upgrade equipment in order to add network capacity and prevent future service interruptions to customer services.”

This far in advance of the scheduled date, there is a good chance that CenturyLink may reschedule this interruption one or more times before it actually occurs. We will report any changes to the scheduled date and time as notice is received.

What Proposition 126 will mean to your service bill

I’ve seen a lot of confusing recommendations thrown around recently concerning Proposition 126, the proposal that will prevent the legislature from taxing service businesses.

Here’s our take on Prop 126 — straightforward and uncomplicated.

Right now, neither the counties nor the state tax a wide variety of services — health care, pet care, accounting, legal representation, real estate services, and the like.

This list includes our three major offerings: Internet service, computer repair, and technical assistance and consulting. 

Right now, you don’t pay tax on these. That makes your life less expensive, and it makes ours much less complicated. We’d like that to remain unchanged, and we hope you do as well.

If Proposition 126 fails and we are forced to collect tax on these services, our prices will not only have to reflect the new tax, but the administrative costs to us of collecting, remitting, and accounting for this new tax.

Proposition 126 is one of those confusing propositions where you have to vote yes to prevent a new tax. Please keep this in mind when you vote. Thank you.

Downtown Tower Upgrade

We will be replacing the aging and increasingly problematic service radio atop Downtown Tower late tomorrow morning (Wednesday 10/10) with a new and faster unit. Expect an outage of 10-15 minutes as the old unit is unbolted and the new unit secured. This outage will affect only users served directly by Downtown Wickenburg Tower — subscribers served by all other towers will be unaffected.

Tower slowdowns

We’re experiencing an issue with some of our towers in which the speed to subscribers degrades as equipment uptime increases. Towers identified so far have included Skip-In Ranch Tower, Downtown Tower, and all three APs on Morristown Tower.  In all cases, power-cycling the radio unit restores full performance.

Our equipment manufacturer, MikroTik, suspects a memory leak in their OS, and has asked us to provide them with diagnostic dumps from the affected equipment, which we are in the process of assembling for them today.

While we wait for a response from MikroTik, we’ll be setting up an automatic powercycle schedule on the affected towers. This will result in an approximately four-minute interruption of service between 2:00-4:00 AM several times each week at these towers. We hope to have this periodic refresh cycle operational by Monday.