WISP Tips Part II

Dustin Jurman is the founder and president of Tampa, FL-based WISP Rapid Systems Corporation. He said he hopes that WISP management improves. “I want to see better networks in this industry, and we need to improve customer service too. When people have a bad experience with one wireless provider, they stop trusting wireless,” he says. 

At ISPCON, Jurman offered these nuggets of wisdom for WISP operators:

Be prepared

  • “If your DNS is down, the customer thinks your network is down.”
  • “It only took me five years to understand wireless. Wireless is held to a higher standard than the cable or phone company.”
  • “An 1,800-foot tower fell outside Orlando. It took us four weeks to replace it, because we had a plan.” (In other words, “be prepared.”)
  • “Know your towers. When a cyclone’s coming, you don’t want to discover that there’s a no climb order on one of your towers because it’s unsafe.”

Be smart

  • “You need to use your own service at home. Put your employees on it too. When there’s a problem, your wife will tell you to fix it.”
  • Run your own speed test. “Do it at your office. Don’t have your customers go to DSL Reports.”
  • Measure latency and jitter. “You cannot just put up the network and forget about it. You have to always be measuring latency and jitter. If you’re offering VoIP, measure MOS scores too.”
  • “Multihome your ISP. Otherwise it will be, Level 3 down? Boom! You get punched in the eye!”
  • Work with ARIN (which had a booth at ISPCON). Jurman said that most ISPs only interact with ARIN when they try to get more IP addresses. You can do a lot more.
  • Don’t do bad installs. “There’s nothing more permanent than a temporary install.”

Be safe

  • If you’re serious about building your business, be serious about keeping it.
  • Take tower safety seriously, both for your employees and for your equipment. “If a radio falls off a 600-foot building, your name’s all over it.”
  • Jurman showed a photo of a competitor’s risky and heavy install on a large office building in Tampa.
  • Jurman said that he’s fanatical about tower safety. Organizations like Commtrain will allow you to earn a teaching certification, but Jurman said that he prefers to hire trainers. “Make training Commtrain’s problem, not yours,” he said.
  • Jurman said that grounding right is also vital. He said to use one ground, not two or more. “If your ground looks like the cell phone company’s ground, you’re doing it right,” he added.
  • Be smart. Jurman said that if you install a half height cabinet (to save money?), it will become a workspace. Secure your equipment. Have security, at least a cheap Webcam.
  • Have an equipment repair system that works. If you receive pages all the time, you’ll start ignoring them.
  • Jurman’s bottom line advice is this: that your employees will do what you do. “People respect what you inspect. My people know I look at alarms on my iPhone. They take care of them.”

For more WISP tips, read “WISP Tips Part I,” “It’s Easier to Build WISP if You’re Already an ISP,” and “WISP Equipment: You Can Get What You Need.”

The next ISPCON takes place in San Jose in November 2008. For more information, visit the show’s Web site.

Article adapted from ISP-Planet.

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