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.

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

Morristown Tower East maintenance Wednesday

We’ve determined from subscriber feedback and subsequent testing that the east sector of Morristown Tower is not functioning properly and is delivering insufficient bandwidth. We’ll be replacing that unit Wednesday morning sometime between 9:15 and 10:30.  This will involve an outage of 10-15 minutes, that should affect only Morristown Tower subscribers east of the 267th Avenue alignment.

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. Continue reading

West-side upgrades Wednesday 10/11

Subscribers served by Constellation Tower (this includes subscribers served by Diamondback, County Line, Black Mountain, and Easy Street Towers) will experience several short micro-outages around mid-day, as equipment and cables are swapped to upgrade Constellation Tower to gigabit bandwidths.  The outages will affect almost all Wickenburg subscribers west of Burger King (except for those served directly by Mockingbird and Downtown Towers), and should last at most a minute or two; several micro-outages will occur before work is complete.

Watch for a posting later on this week in which we will discuss the infrastructure improvements we’ve been making over the past month to provide you faster service.

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

Mockingbird recapped

I’m happy to report that, as far as we have been able to determine, all our speed-related problems at Mockingbird Tower are now resolved. Assuming this announcement doesn’t generate a spate of contrary responses, our next task will be to arrange for incremental UPS protection at our towers, beginning with the ones that are most highly subscribed; and working with our consultants to assure that we can deliver to our subscribers all the untapped bandwidth currently available at our Internet gateway.

For the technically curious, a brief description of the source of our speed problems appears below. (Warning: unpaved roads ahead!) Continue reading

Mockingbird improves…

We found and corrected the source of the frequent four-second timeout pauses. Mockingbird subscribers will now at least be seeing consistent data delivery, just not yet at the speeds we would like to deliver. What the tower is delivering right now should be fine for browsing, mail, and even a Netflix movie, but heavy data demands like Windows/Mac updates will still take longer than usual.

We are continuing to work on the speed problem with our dedicated and knowledgeable consultants.

“Big Sleep” to blanket Mockingbird tonight

After last night’s testing, we suspect the most probable cause of the performance problem at Mockingbird is a bad customer roof unit radio hashing our tower. We’ve exhausted all the minimally invasive tests we can run. Starting tonight, we’re running a Big Sleep test on all our Mockingbird subscriber units. Continue reading