Requiem for a Heavyweight

Laird POE-48i-CI

Laird POE-48i-CI

This is a 48-volt power supply made by Laird Technologies. It is the very first power supply we bought, on February 19, 2007, to power our very first tower in Morristown.

It spent 4½ years cooped up in an unventilated metal box on our windmill tower, where it routinely operated in temperatures over 120°F.

In September of 2011, after we had replaced our original Morristown router, power supply, and omni antenna with a newer, faster router driving three directional sector antennas, the original equipment was retasked to serve Echo Hill — a small pocket-valley neighborhood of three residences. The power supply continued to labor there 24/7 in its new, more-comfortable indoor environment.

At 5:54 on February 11, this power supply gave up the ghost, its little amber light pulsing in an entirely undocumented manner — seven years of continuous operation almost to the day. As my father would have said, “It didn’t owe you nothing.”

It took us 24 hours to get Echo Hill operational again, only because it was the only 48V power supply we owned, and its router was likewise the only router we own that doesn’t work on any of the 24V supplies we have in abundance. We found an 18V Laird supply and instructions for restrapping the router to accept 6-22V. The router — itself a full seven years in an outdoor hotbox — continues to crank packets every bit as well as it did in 2007.

One of the things I really enjoy about the networking business is the robust construction of the equipment I get to work with. The original router of this tale (a MikroTik RouterBoard 532c) was shipped in 2007 with RouterOS 2.7 — it is now running RouterOS 6.9, which still fully supports it.  When did you last own a PC or Mac that operated faultlessly for over seven years, including in extreme harsh environments, and continued to be fully supported by the manufacturer’s OS a full four or more major releases beyond what it originally shipped with?

Our corporate hat is off to the folks at Laird and MikroTik, who continue to make stuff that Just Works.

Foreign Exchange

This past week, Grand Avenue Broadband’s operations were the subject of a feature article at the website of, the oldest and largest technical forum for internet providers in Russia. (Click on the “Select Language” button in the upper right of the webpage for an automated Google translation to English.)


The reporter’s object was to study rural internet services in other countries in order to “understand how communications in the Russian provinces really should be organized.”

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Pie in the sky

Wickenburg area mailboxes and newspapers are currently being inundated with ads by Exede (formerly Wildblue), promising a new, improved form of “high-speed satellite” internet. One ad visually compares their old and new offerings to a truck and a sports car. Another promises “12 megabit” speeds and performance that is “800% faster.”

Selling a lemonBecause I was a satellite customer for many years myself, and because I understand the technology involved, I couldn’t see how any satellite company, including Exede, could deliver service levels anywhere near what those ads implied. After a little investigation, including a chat with an installation contractor and obtaining some accounts of actual customer experiences, I’m here to report that my suspicions were confirmed.


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