February 2020: Collabsion now CTO for Patriot Broadband

Patriot Broadband is a franchised WISP (wireless internet service provider) business. Patriot brought us in to review their current offering and help them make it stronger. We will be their Office of the CTO moving forward. This means we will help them select markets for franchises, develop the design, implement the networks, and manage them for the franchises going forward.

February 2020: Collabsion is now WilsonPro Certified

Collabsion is now trained and certified to offer solutions for passive DAS (distributed antenna systems) from WilsonPro. These systems can improve cellular communications in your facility. Ideal when you have weak cellular inside but decent service outside or up on the roof.

February 2020: Process Improvement Consulting

Started working with a small medical device repair company to help them improve their processes and prepare for a new management system. The processes we reviewed and improved were incorporated into the new management application. Spent time with each department in the field and office to understand their daily routines and needs.

December 2019: WiFi Design – Major Hospital System in NM

Almost four week effort to conduct an RF study throughout over 2.5 million square feet of space at 6 sites in Albuquerque NM. Tag team effort by Dawn and Alex each running their own survey rigs going floor by floor. In and out of every nook and cranny of the facilities. Deep in the bowels of boiler rooms, operating rooms, patient rooms, ERs, offices, and more. Started mid-December, took off for Christmas, back in time to celebrate New Years in NM together and finish out the project.

November 2019: New Client – Sharrott Winery

We love our small business clients. Meet our newest, Sharrott Winery in Hammonton NJ. Nice winery run by some great folks. Small world – they buy their boxes from Naylor’s a winery 2 miles from our office in PA.

WiFi troubleshooting. Conducted a survey of the site using our Ekahau Sidekick and analyzed the results. Made configuration changes based on our findings, and wireless service improved. Suggested some additional locations for APs as well for even better service.

Great wine. Great WiFi. Great friends! Check them out if you are in the area.

July 2019: Road Trip Summer, WiFi and camera system install, event wireless, troubleshooting and designing networks

At the end of June and into July, we helped a winery in NJ fix some major performance problems with their Ubiquiti network. This included replacing a PtP wireless link between buildings, sorting our channel management issues, and implementing a guest portal.

We started the month with a road trip. When finished in September, we will have toured 26 states (give or take), 11,000 miles, crossing every time zone. Started the tour with 4 projects. Picked up three more along the way.

First major project is in Naples Florida. Installed a WiFi and camera system consisting of 16 Ubiquiti cameras (indoors and out), 19 Ubiquiti wireless access points. Plus three switches (1 MDF and 2 IDFs), Meraki security appliance, and building custom mounts for the APs. Install was a success and now we are in maintenance and support mode for the next few years.

Left Naples and headed across the south to Phoenix AZ where we conducted a WiFi site survey in a hospital. Finished that work up as we drove to Mattawa WA next.

In Mattawa we visited Nighthawk Networks, a wireless internet service provider (WISP) we manage remotely. Visited the tower sites, helped with some difficult alignments, and made some configuration changes. Great to finally meet the crew on the ground and see the area. We have been working remotely for 2 years.

While traveling, we also remotely resolved some performance issues for two residential installs of Ubiquiti networks.

Our next destination was Gerlach NV, home of Burning Man. We spent 7 weeks there working with a great team of network experts building and maintaining the wireless network that supports the event. Everything is wireless. It takes an 11-mile wireless link to get Internet to the desert. It takes a network of radios on site to distribute the service. This is our second year working with them.

On the way back from the desert, we worked on a wireless network troubleshooting project for a client in Boston. We found the issues they were having with outside and inside interference and presented them with a mitigation plan.

Finally back in our area on September 21… what a magnificent road trip seeing the country.

June 2019: WiFi install, training, camera system install

We started the month off with some training on a variety of wireless topics. Had a few discussions with peers along the way on best practices. Did some maintenance on our office network and deployed some new cameras to test out.

After all that, we dove into a wiring project that had us deploying an Aruba WiFi network we designed. Seven access points and all new Ethernet drops.

We ended the month with a deployment of a wireless camera system in a church. Will be proposing a new WiFi system and expansion of the camera system.

Quiet month on the surface, but also spent a good deal of time preparing for our July through September road trip. We also added a job trailer to our business this month. Will work on outfitting it while on the long road trip and into the fall.

May 2019: WiFi install, surveys, troubleshooting, designs

Busy month spent all over the East Coast. First up was a WiFI install in a small medical practice. Old system was failing (consumer grade and all end of life). Replaced with a simple Ubiquiti solution.

Next up was a WiFi site survey in a hospital in our backyard. Single floor under construction. Designed for Bluetooth support. Cisco solution.

The we ran up to Boston to troubleshoot a WiFi network in an office that was experiencing high levels of dropouts. Ruckus system that was end of life. Lots of interference in the area, some of it self-inflicted by the Ruckus controller (it was not handling auto channel settings very well). Out of 9 access points, 4 were on channel 5. After the survey we proposed some mitigations to buy them time until they could replace the system. We also provided a technically sound Meraki design for a new system.

From there we ran down to Rhode Island to do some work on a long-term project for a resort hotel. Located potential mounting locations for the over 200 access points we designed (Meraki). Scoped out the outdoor locations in more detail and built out a bill of materials to support those installs. This project will take from now until sometime early next spring as we work around their busy season.

Next we drove down to Naples Florida to do a WiFi design in a warehouse for a moving and storage company. Over 44,000 square feet. Designed a Meraki and Ubiquiti option. Client is going with the Ubiquiti option most likely. Full network design, access points, and security cameras.

While driving down to Naples, we also helped a client in England resolve some of their performance issues with their WiFi network. Nothing like holding a remote access session across the pond via cell phone while zinging down I-95 in rural Florida (I was not driving when I did this!).

In between the projects we attended a number of webinars and presentations on new technology. We spent some time upgrading our core network and working with new technology that is coming out soon. Spending some time writing up articles on wireless technology and performance tuning in my spare time.

WiFi giving you fits? Users complaining of being “dropped”?

Do you suffer “drops” and “disconnects” when using your corporate WiFi network? Access to the Internet is slow and eventually you get the dreaded error that indicates you could not reach the webpage or you have no Internet. 

If so, there are a number of things that can cause it, to include channel interference, poor signal strength, and too many users on one access point. The only real way to figure it out for sure is to conduct a professional WiFi Site Survey that reads not just signal strength, but looks at other factors such as spectrum usage, channel overlap, noise, and actual device placement. With this information in hand, a good wireless engineer can fix your issues. 

Wireless networks are different than a traditional wired network. They require constant care and feeding! They are not “set it and forget it”. The wireless environment is constantly changing. Some of the biggest polluters of the WiFi spectrum are the ISPs that are pushing open hotspots on every install they do (even if you don’t ask for it). They love to set the WiFi router they give you to an 80MHz channel (chewing up 4 usable 20MHz channels). If two wireless access points can “see” each other and are using the same channel, you will likely have interference causing these “drops”. Imagine how many companies are using the same 80MHz channels in one office building with many tenants!

Recently we were engaged by a client that had numerous user complaints. Typical complaint was “slow internet” that would eventually stop altogether. The users were trying to stream videos mostly and would experience high rates of buffering that eventually would disconnect. Reboots seemed to resolve it but it would return again eventually. The client was in a large office building with roughly 10 other companies, all with WiFi networks. The clients network was end of life product. About 25,000 square feet of open space and offices. After we completed our survey we discovered half of their APs were on the same channel and all within visual range of each other (despite their controller using auto channel). Their neighboring systems were all set to 40 and 80MHz channels and the same ones as theirs. Power on all APs was turned up. Our final report indicated which channels they should use and on which access points. We also suggested a “good neighbor” policy whereby their IT staff would reach out to the IT staff of the other building tenants and work together to reduce channel congestion. The result… no more dropped connections. While there, we also found a point-to-point 5GHz radio on the roof above their office that was chewing up 80MHz of spectrum to transmit small amounts of data about the building systems to another building nearby. That was also addressed.

We use professional grade tools that allow us to gather data on your network as well as those around you. All you need to provide is a decent copy of your floor plans (to scale). If you don’t have floor plans, we can work with you to create a basic floor plan we can use. A typical office that is up to about 25,000 square feet takes 5-7 hours to walk thoroughly. After we gather the data, we will take a few hours to analyze it and produce a report with options on how to fix your issues.

Call 717-817-2503 to discuss your needs or email alex.wilson@collabsion.com to set up a time to call.

#wifi #wifisurvey #ekahau #wireless