Wednesday: interruptions for performance improvements

Since our last post, we’ve been hard at work on a new system to deliver more bandwidth to our four neighborhood towers in west Wickenburg, and to ramp our popular Mockingbird Tower up to the speeds necessary to support our increasing subscriber levels.

Subscribers of all our towers from Mockingbird Road westward may encounter some brief (5-20 minute) network interruptions this coming Wednesday at staggered times of the day, as we perform certain of the equipment upgrades described below.

Here are some details about what we’ve been doing, how far along we’ve gotten, and what we hope to accomplish Wednesday.

We often mention how the rolling terrain in our area of Arizona makes it infeasible to serve any reasonable-sized territory (such as the town of Wickenburg) from a single tower, This is why we established our Constellation Tower location, not only to serve direct subscribers, but as a way to relay bandwidth to multiple neighborhood towers in other areas of our service territory, each one of which covers all the hills and valleys of one neighborhood adequately.

However, we found over time that the terrain still interfered somewhat with the feed to some of our most popular towers, mostly on the northwest side of town, resulting in a hard limit to the amount of bandwidth we could deliver them. We have been wrestling with this problem for most of a year.

Recently, we were fortunate enough to identify and secure a location on the west end of town with clear line of sight to those towers. Despite an untimely winter epidemic of “out-of-stockitis” at all US wireless equipment distributors, we have managed to assemble and place into operation the bulk of a planned array of new relay equipment at this hub location, providing increased bandwidth to our Diamondback and Black Mountain POPs, and through Diamondback to our Easy Street POP (this last link is still awaiting hardware).

We’ve replaced the old links (including the direct link between Constellation and County Line) with carrier-class radio equipment using the fastest available protocols. When complete, these links will form a loop from Constellation through Black Mountain, Diamondback, Easy Street, and back, providing us with fault-tolerant operation despite the loss of any single link.

Additionally, we were able to construct a new data link from this west-end hub directly to Mockingbird Tower, giving us for the first time the same order of fault-tolerant operation between our eastern (Mockingbird/Skip-In Ranch) and western (Constellation) feed domains. In particular, this means that our subscribers west of the river are no longer entirely at the mercy of the single feed link between our gateway and Constellation Tower.

Speaking of this feed link, we finally have equipment on hand to upgrade it to the newer, faster protocols. All these changes should help reduce time-of-day bandwidth congestion for our Mockingbird and Rio Vista subscribers. We hope to be able to install this equipment next Wednesday.

As we have been phasing in this new equipment, we’ve been gratified to watch our gateway bandwidth usage rising, confirming that our subscribers are encountering less contention and better response times.

We’re committed to continuing to find innovative ways to improve your Internet experience. Thank you for being one of our valued subscribers.

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