Prairie Hills Wireless
Located in rural central Nebraska, Prairie Hills Wireless was founded in 2013. The Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) is based in Ravenna, a small town of less than 1,400 people and home to the annual Annevar Festival, a anagram of the town’s name, which features a demolition derby, tractor pull and parade. With over 1,000 wireless Internet customers and covering an area of about 1,100 square miles, Prairie Hills Wireless offers customers high-speed Internet with speeds of up to 25 Mbps, in addition to local computer repair services.
“We were looking for a like-minded, forward-thinking vendor with products that were feature-packed with GPS sync, high capacity, low latency and built-in cloud management. Mimosa fit the bill.”
Owner, Kent Urwiller, initially deployed Mimosa B5c radios into their existing network. Subsequently, Kent then added over 22 links of Mimosa B5 radios, Mimosa B5-Lite radios and was also one of the first customers to deploy the new licensed backhaul Mimosa B11 radios. Fitting of the rural Buffalo County setting, Mimosa products were installed on grain bins and grain legs, with some radios mounted on towers, water towers and roofs. Prairie Hills uses the following spectrum for its links: 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, 3.65 GHz, 5 GHz, 11 GHz, 24 GHz
“We are very pleased with our Mimosa solution,” said Kent. “We were looking for a like-minded, forward-thinking vendor with products that were feature-packed with GPS sync, high capacity, low latency and built-in cloud management. Mimosa fit the bill.” Kent initially used the B5c radios with advanced GPS synchronization capabilities to get more bandwidth out of his network without wasting valuable spectrum. The radios easily reuse the same channel at an individual location or network wide, enabling deployment of many synchronized links without needing to use a different channel, thereby eliminating common “self-interference” problems.
“With our new Mimosa links, our speeds have tripled and we have increased our networks capacity immensely.”
Kent continued, “Our previous equipment supposedly had GPS sync but the manufacturer was not able to get the feature to work, and it performed a lot slower than advertised. With our new Mimosa links, our speeds have tripled and we have increased our networks capacity immensely.” Per Kent, his previous links would also struggle with the wide seasonal temperature variations in Ravenna. The products were prone to temperature inversion and would cause the links to drop when humidity was high and temperature started to drop around sunset during the summer months.
Prairie Hills Wireless signed up for a Mimosa Cloud account in late 2014, and relied heavily on the Mimosa design tool to start the planning process of replacing their old links. According to Kent, the design tool was extremely helpful to map out their entire network and to set site names, antenna size, radio type, link name, and to get an idea of what height is required to make each link work.
Prairie Hills signed up to be a user of Mimosa’s premium Cloud service, Cloud+, user a year later. “Cloud + is a fully functioning management solution,” said Kent. “It’s very clean and easy to use - just like the hardware – I use it everyday. The historical statistics are awesome when trying to identify interference and traffic consumption.” Kent especially likes the very detailed information regarding PHY TX/RX, signal and noise, EVM, MCS/Streams, errors, temperature, throughput, and TX PER that Cloud + gives the user.
“I didn’t have current or historical noise floor or noise statistics before Cloud+. It is very helpful when encountering interference at a tower. I use this to help decide what frequency would be best for my links. I also use the MCS/Streams historical statistics to help identify the best channel. I had no idea of what the noise floor was doing on my network before Cloud+,” said Kent. Kent also credited Cloud+ for helping him in to identify a pole-mounted dish that was moving in high winds, causing the link to drop in signal. Cloud+ alerted him to the problem and he was able correct the issues.
To take his network to the next level and to free up the 5 GHz spectrum, Kent decided to move the existing B5cs to areas serving shorter distances and deploy new B11 radios at his main sites on licensed 11GHz links. The B11s also handle longer distances, enabling the company to take advantage of their 1 gigabit fiber circuit at each location.
The Design Tool, which shows all of the channels that are available in the coverage area and offers tools for visualizing and automating license submissions, became especially helpful when planning and coordinating the five links. “It was very easy to apply for the license for the B11 radios. I used the design tool on my cloud account and it literally took about 5 minutes to apply.” The B11 radios are performing very well and have exceeded expectations.
Kent found the entire experience to be different with Mimosa. “Products are shipped with fully functional features that do not take five or six versions of beta to keep running for more than 24 hours. If you need help with tuning a link or having issues with hardware, the support chat is very helpful. They are very fast at responding to your issue,” said Kent.