Vistabeam is a wireless internet service provider (WISP) that’s been delivering reliable internet to rural and underserved communities in Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado since 2004.
Based in Gering, NE, the company’s coverage area spans over 40,000 square miles and 100 towns. They started using Preseem in 2017 and Vistabeam CEO Matt Larsen says “it’s probably the best money we spend every month. It’s just been a huge improvement in the quality of our network.”
Solving Access Point Capacity Issues with Preseem
At the most recent WISPAMERICA event in New Orleans, Matt spoke at a pre-conference presentation we hosted for WISP attendees. As a long-term Preseem customer, Vistabeam was one of the first companies given the chance to use our new RF analysis tools and scores. As Matt told the audience, the new features have already helped solve a long-standing access point (AP) capacity problem for Vistabeam.
“One of the issues we’ve always had is trying to figure out where we have capacity on our network to sell more customers, to make sure that we sell a good quality service, and also balance that against our sales people that are selling against demand,” he said.
Previously, Vistabeam had an internal system where capacity was determined by whether customers on that AP were experiencing issues or complaining about poor internet, as opposed to it being a data-driven decision.
Matt said this led to odd situations like having 90 customers on an AP where there had been no complaints (and so would be considered as having capacity) but then marking a same-model AP with 20 customers on it as ‘at capacity’ because of complaints or latency issues. This affected financial planning and company performance, as projected customer counts for each AP consistently came in under target.
In effect, this meant that AP capacity planning and reporting at Vistabeam was based on gut feeling instead of facts. This led to conflict between management, sales, and networking staff as they discussed which APs could be used.
“I’m not a big believer in the internet of feelings,” said Matt. “I want to have empirical data that says, ‘Yes, you can add more customers’ (or) ‘No, you can’t,’ with good reasoning behind it.”
A Single Source of Truth for AP Capacity
Enter Preseem’s new RF layer metrics that include an Available Subscriber Capacity score, among other insights. Matt said he’s already seen an improvement after just a few weeks of having them active on Vistabeam’s network.
“We now have empirical data that replaces feelings,” he said. “There is one place to point to that is an authority on whether we can sell more capacity on this access point or not. In addition to that, this provides the information to tell you what you need to do to get more capacity out of the access point if something doesn’t look right.”
Now, Vistabeam can tell whether any issues are caused by interference or a few customers that are slowing things down for others.
“This addresses it with one of the best solutions I’ve seen so far,” he said.
A Real-World Example from Vistabeam
As a case in point, Matt showed an example of a Vistabeam AP with only 14 customers on it that was showing up in Preseem with a minus-2 score. This indicated that the AP had two more subscribers than it could handle. Matt said this seemed strange because the AP model in question should be able to host 25-35 customers.
Looking at the metrics in Preseem, they discovered the majority of the 14 customers on the AP were fine. However, there was one outlier with poor RF and Business Value scores. This indicated that this customer was the source of the capacity issues, likely due to a low signal strength.
By very quickly being able to narrow it down this way, Vistabeam knew that removing the customer from the AP would restore it to full health. This would also allow them to more than double their capacity from 12 to 25. This is something that would have been very difficult to isolate manually, Matt said. In this case, the customer was swapped out to CBRS and Vistabeam now has double the capacity on that AP.
Matt said Vistabeam will now be able to look for all customers with a low Business Value score and then put them on a different AP or cancel them. By doing this, he estimates that the company will be able to get around 30% more capacity on their network to be able to sell more customers.
“In my mind, that is a huge, huge benefit,” he said. “Finding those people that are actually hurting you, using more capacity, or if they’ve got bad conditions—that is invaluable.”
You can check out Matt’s presentation below, along with a look at what’s coming up on the Preseem roadmap. Contact us to try Preseem on your network!