Transitioning the WISP to Telrad LTE

The number one concern I have heard thus far before we transition a select group of WISPs (Wireless Internet Service Providers) from WiFI or TDMA to LTE is “How can I afford LTE?” and the question is valid.  The costs are high, very high, astronomically high in fact when compared to the “disruptively priced” gear from others we have enjoyed and loved in the past.  My response to the question “How can I afford Telrad Networks LTE?” is really another question and that is “How can I NOT afford Telrad LTE?”

Think about it this way.  When I was a full time WISP operator, we kept careful stats on the number of calls for service versus the number of installs.  I am not talking about tire kicker calls, I mean people that called, credit card in hand wanting to buy what we were selling. We found that we were only serving 20% of those qualified customers and losing 80%. Seriously, qualified customers, ready to read you their credit card number and close the deal today and agree to pay you every month, same day, same amount, and we had to tell them no 80% of the time?  Why?

Well, I can tell you it was not because we had a line of sight problem, it was because our WiFI and TDMA unlicensed equipment had a line of sight problem.  You see, what had happened is we accepted the shortcomings of the technology and began to believe LOS (line of sight) was the ONLY way.

Fortunately all that has changed and Telrad is leading the charge.  All that remains is a path to take the same gear our competitors, the big cell carriers have relied upon to take our customers, equipment that doesn’t have a LOS problem, and “WISPatize” it.  That is exactly what Telrad is doing.

We are WISPs and we know how to do what others won’t, or can’t or don’t understand and that is serve the unserved and underserved with the most cost effective, creative method we can.

So, as we evolve into the WISPatized LTE model, here’s another way to start small and transition into something huge.   Think about it like this, when you make the switch to LTE, even starting small and begin to crush your competitor’s LOS solution, you will take his customers and the revenue increase will fund the transition of the remainder of your LOS network to NLOS.

In that vein, here’s a solution to get you started small at first and the best part is it doesn’t involve an omini!  It allows nearly 360 degree coverage day one with only one base station radio and two sectors.  Understand it has some shortcomings:

  1. It is not 100% true 360 degree coverage, after all we are using two 65 degree sectors that provide up to 120 degrees of coverage, not 180 degrees.  There will be two pie shaped gaps, but those will get filled soon enough.  Be smart, position those gaps facing an uninhabited prairie or forest.
  2. This solution is not without signal loss.  Splitting the 4×4 MIMO into two 2×2 MIMO sectors will cost you 3 dB of signal.  That’s a lot, I get that.  Remember the rule of 3’s in RF theory?  Every 3 dB doubles your power, remove 3dB and halve your power.

The advantage here is that day one, one base station, two antennas and you have great close-in coverage with antennas you will reuse for Phase II.

One base station, two sectors, 2×2 MIMO


Phase II is to add a second BST and increase your range incrementally and fill the entire 360 degree area with no more gaps.

Two base stations, four sectors, 2×2 MIMO


Phase III is to add one or two more BST’s.  With 3 BST’s you are now full 4x MIMO, get back your lost 3 dB, increase your range and increase your density.

Four base stations, four sectors, 4×4 MIMO


With 4 BST’s you will be able to increase your number of subs on this single tower to something approaching 400 depending on your bandwidth packages.

It’s not a perfect plan but it will work and that’s what WISPs do, make it work.  I hope this helps increase your knowledge and gets the creative juices flowing to transform your WISP into the next generation.

What can I do if my wireless devices don’t roam between my wireless AP’s?

Good question, one I was also asking myself when I set up a large Mikrotik CAPsMAN network. A moving laptop would hang onto a -85 signal when a -70 was available.  It did not make sense.  So, after some research I found some ideas to help you.

When you are walking between access points (assuming they have the same wireless SSID name and same security), you may find that your wireless client, that is your laptop like a mobile phone is still sticking to the distant device and will not roam to the nearest device.

How roaming works:

Roaming is purely a client decision. The wireless client is responsible for deciding it needs to roam, and then detecting, evaluating, and roaming to an alternative AP. WLAN standards bodies (such as IEEE) and industry bodies (such as Wi-Fi Alliance) do not specify when a client should roam, or how the client roams.

So, roaming or not roaming, it is totally decided by your wireless client’s roaming algorithm. Different wireless client vendors’ roaming algorithms are also different and are not generally published.


There is no role played by AP in this client roaming process. So, your best option is to configure your wireless client to achieve fast roaming for you.  Some NIC vendors give some mechanism to control this roaming behavior, specifically Intel.

PC Users

In Intel, it is known as roaming aggressiveness and this setting allows you to define how aggressively your Wi-Fi client roams to improve wireless connection.

Here are the configuration methods on Intel WNIC:

You can go to control panel -> network and internet -> network connection and choose the wireless connection. Right click the wireless connection and choose properties. Click configure and choose Advanced and choose roaming aggressiveness.  Typically there are 5 options. Here are the explanations of these five options:

Lowest: Your wireless client will not roam. Only significant link quality degradation causes it to roam to another access point.

  • Medium-Low/Medium-High: Allow Roaming.
  • Medium: Balanced setting between not roaming and performance.
  • Highest: Your Wi-Fi client continuously tracks the link quality. If any degradation occurs, it tries to find and roam to a better access point.

Mac Users

It is still possible on the Mac, just not as elegant.  Open a terminal window and type the following command all on one line then Enter.  You will need the administrator password of course since this has to run as the root user:

sudo /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/A/Resources/airport prefs joinMode=Strongest

This should get your device to drop a weak AP when a stronger signal is available. This will work with any AP setup, Ubiquiti, MikroTik, etc.  Happy roaming!

“WISPatizing” LTE

This is a letter from Patrick Leary at Telrad, I thought worth sharing.

We all know LTE has first been created for the needs of giant mobile operators first. That means the LTE enhanced packet core (called the EPC in LTE-speak) includes a host of features fixed operators may NEVER need, like translating diverse 3G backends into a standardized LTE core. Who wants to pay for that? Not me and certainly not you. As well, being mobile centric first, LTE out of the box EXCLUDES certain things fixed operators like and use, such as Layer 2 services.

Being the first and so far ONLY company out there in the LTE space mainly focused on the fixed space, Telrad is the tip of the spear trying to innovate and idealize the solution for WISPs and other local and regional fixed-focused operators. It has been a struggle. EPC are things that can run deep into 6 figures and we had to find a way for the economics to make sense for your models.

Complicating this, because we use an SDR platform, Telrad is able to do something no other vendor on the planet has done: offer the EPC as a hardware-less, software feature EMBEDDED into each base station as an option. That’s super cool, meaning smaller operators won’t need to shell out for a full centralized EPC. But, that also means we’ve made our lives more difficult because options are another SKU to manage.

We now think we’ve got it as refined as possible and here’s the key to what we’ve done:

Dividing up the EPC functionality to allow for operators to purchase ONLY the features you need, and allowing that granularity to be applied to EITHER the embedded or the centralized EPC models.

So what’s been made granular (and priced much smaller per function)? These are things that in the traditional LTE world are often found as individual appliances. Our centralized core can include them all in one appliance for 1/10th or less of what traditional EPCs can cost. Now we’ve even made it MUCH more affordable than even that, by taking the subsets of EPC functionality and providing them as distinct SOFT modules that can be purchased ala carte into either the embedded or centralized Telrad EPCs. Here are examples:

– Don’t want AAA or need Radius? Fine. We now have a feature called iHSS, which allows MAC level authentication.

– Want to use your Radius, but NOT use our implementation? Don’t get iHSS. Instead get the IWK module, which enables internetworking with an external Radius AAA server.

– Planning ONLY to do best effort or apply a single policy across all subscribers? Fine, no need to have the PCRF functionality of an EPC.

– Want to implement distinct and varied service flows and other QoS services? We’ll offer iPCRF as a module.

These are examples. If you used all the functionality, it would still not cost you any more than how things were first initially priced, even if purchased in pieces, so there is no nickel and diming. The difference is, if you need LESS, you’ll be investing less.

Those of you with firm LTE quotes on the table? We’ll need to revisit them, as the numbers will drop. Those with only estimates at this point? That’s worst case and we’ll get you revisions as you get nearer to pulling the trigger.

One last thing….and it is another big one. With LTE comes the entirely new NMS. Better, lighter, simpler, less cost. I’ll be doing another mail on that as soon as I can.