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.

Cutover still pending

This morning’s trunk cutover failed to take place, with CenturyLink making the attempt to switch circuits but ultimately delivering no traffic. Next-tier engineers at CenturyLink are scheduled to be diagnosing the issue, and we’ll be setting up a new cutover time once they inform us they have the problem figured out.

Yes, we’re working on performance problems

Our router manufacturer issued a software upgrade on Monday to close an “exploitable hole” that put the security of our network and your data at risk. Unfortunately, they issued the fix first in the “new features” release chain, and were delayed issuing it in the “current bugfix” release chain. Unwilling to delay, we took a leap of faith and installed the “new features” release to get the security hole closed as promptly as possible.

Our faith was betrayed.

We are currently re-installing the (finally available) “current bugfix” release with the security patch on all the routers in our network. Since this is technically a downgrade, the installation is much less automatic and much more labor-intensive than the original upgrade, needing to be performed manually on upwards of 200 machines, certain of which are barely communicating well enough at the moment to load the software. We ask your patience while we back out the misbehaving wireless software suite installed earlier this week.

A great week,
 and a great 11 years

This week our tower bandwidth improvement project is for all practical purposes complete. Read on to learn about the improvements we’ve made to our performance in Wickenburg and Morristown… plus a little bit of nostalgia in celebration of our 11th anniversary. Continue reading

Possible Diamondback work today

There’s about a 70% chance that we will have an opportunity this afternoon (Wednesday 1/31) to be able to perform an equipment upgrade at Diamondback Tower. Subscribers served by that tower may encounter several brief (about two minute) outages, along with possibly somewhat slower performance from the temporary mast we’ll be setting up to provide service while the original tower is being re-engineered. This work will affect only subscribers served by Diamondback Tower.

Nasty KRACK

This week’s networking crisis is that black-hats have found another way to violate your privacy. Called the KRACK exploit, it allows hackers to spoof WiFi protocol so as to break its encryption and read your traffic.

It’s worth pointing out that this is not just a zero-day bug in some manufacturer’s implementation—it’s a defect in the WiFi standard itself, and all WiFi (802.11) encryption is vulnerable to it. It does require a hacker to be close enough to have physical access to your radio signal.

We wanted to let you know what we were doing about it, and also what you should be doing about it yourself. Continue reading

Good news (for a change)

As a result of a long-term project accomplished earlier this week, subscribers are now seeing faster speeds and improved response times. Most subscribers are experiencing sustained speeds exceeding their contract limits (some are seeing double their contract limit), with an additional speed boost layered on top whenever possible for brief, non-sustained transactions such as web surfing.  Continue reading