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.

Brief outages at Diamondback Tower

The demand for service from Diamondback Tower (neighborhood POP), over just the few months it has been available, has been both surprising and gratifying. Because of the fast subscriber growth on this tower, we’ll be spending most of tomorrow (Tuesday, 10/18) replacing the small-neighborhood service equipment with a more sophisticated three-unit tower capable of delivering a cleaner signal and more efficient service to the entire northern North Vulture Mine area.

We’ll be relocating the existing unit a few feet away, and leaving it in operation while we erect the improved tower. We’ll perform the cutover once the new tower is ready for service. Subscribers should see only two or three outages throughout the day of about a minute or two each as cables have to be extended and reconnected, and the old tower feed has to be re-aimed at its new location..

Our thanks to all our Diamondback subscribers for helping make our neighborhood venture there such a rousing success.

 

A light at the end of the fiber?

Back in June, we realized that our network was growing so aggressively that we needed to make immediate plans to increase our bandwidth to the greater Internet.

After assessing our options, and losing a bid to gain our additional bandwidth at a tower on the Morristown end of our network (which we would have preferred just for the redundancy), we placed an order in mid-July with CenturyLink, our current bandwidth provider, to double our gateway bandwidth in Wickenburg as soon as possible.

It took CenturyLink until late August even to give us an installation completion target date: October 27. The date was a source of anxiety to us, as we expected a much more timely completion and feared that our subscribers might well be “hitting the wall” by that time.

The October estimate turned out to be a pleasant fantasy, as after October 8 all CenturyLink progress came to an abrupt halt. As of last week (Christmas), dirt was still being pushed around at various downtown intersections in an attempt to get our new fiber laid. Meanwhile, our subscribers began topping out our gateway during the “Netflix Hour” by the last week of October, and throughout much of the rest of the day a month after that.

Today (New Year’s Eve), we were informed by CenturyLink that their fiber laying and splicing work is finally complete, and now we are to wait to be contacted by a technician “sometime in the next few days” to schedule equipment installation.

Here’s fervently hoping we will be able to wave goodbye to our bandwidth congestion problems by mid-January. We apologize for any sluggish response times you have been encountering, and we appreciate your patience while we work this upgrade to completion.

Higher! Faster!

(This bulletin is for all subscribers; a specific addendum for Mockingbird Central subscribers appears at the end.)

We spent this weekend erecting a brand new mast in downtown Wickenburg. But this one isn’t a radio mast — it’s an aerial attachment mast for a CenturyLink fiber circuit (the second fiber circuit in all of Wickenburg, we’ve been told), one that’s going to play an important part in providing you faster service. Continue reading

Progress with Reliability Upgrades

With four subscriber unit upgrades and a bit of creative rerouting on North Vulture Mine Road this past weekend, it appears that we have eliminated (or at least greatly reduced) the retransmit cascade failures affecting all users of the Mockingbird West tower. Return signal and bandwidth from the upgraded units to our tower is now capable of several times rated contract speed. If you’re still experiencing slowdowns or outages, please inform us.

We’re awaiting an equipment restock delivery (mid-week) to address one problem subscriber site that is regularly interrupting the Morristown East sector, and one or two units that require the same improvement at Rio Vista Hills. After next weekend, we hope the cascade failure problem will be a thing of the past (or at least the far, far future).

Intermittent Service Cure Plan

Simultaneously with the arrival of the current cold weather, we began receiving automated connectivity failure reports against a number of our subscribers, mainly those being served by our Mockingbird West tower, with Rio Vista, and Morristown East users in place and show positions. They were difficult to pin down, primarily because the metrics reported by the towers didn’t support any particular diagnosis. We replaced the radio unit at Mockingbird West in case the receiver discrimination was going sour, but gained zero relief.

After several weeks of thrashing and several hours of attention from consultants, we now believe we understand the problem, and have an action plan in place to address it. Continue reading

Scheduled Outage Noon Tue. 1/6

The Mockingbird Tower will be taken out of service for around 10-15 minutes between noon and 1 PM on Tuesday, January 6, in order to replace our Mockingbird West access point with a fresh radio card. We hope this will help address the dropout and throughput problems being reported by our west Wickenburg subscribers in the vicinity of North and South Vulture Mine Road.

Robust or Bust!

Last Friday, we completed the upgrade of Castle Hot Springs tower, activating the redundant transmission link between that tower and 251st Avenue. All subscribers on our network are now immune to the failure of any single transmission link.

In conjunction with grounding improvements at Mockingbird Tower, which has eliminated our “every three months” radio replacement problem there, and the recent power supply upgrade and firewall review at our Wickenburg gateway, our network is now exhibiting higher reliability than ever before.

Thank you for continuing to allow us to be your broadband services provider.