Mimosa A5 GPS Sync and how it changed our network
I know many have been long awaiting the results of Mimosa multipoint GPS Sync - to summarize my experience, it’s been transformational to my network, and the town, Ravenna, that Prairie Hills Wireless services. Since moving to Mimosa, we’ve scaled subscriber speeds 10x, and expanded the network massively with both MicroPoPs in high density parts of town, and a pretty massive tower style GigaPoP!
It’s taken quite a bit of optimization since it’s a new approach, but when you get the final 2.2 release deployed properly, it’s a game changer. Your biggest complaint will likely be upgrading all your backhauls to keep up!
Getting started as a Wireless ISP
My wife and I started Prairie Hills Wireless in late April-early May of 2013. We began by deploying MicroPoPs with Ubiquiti Rocket M5-Titanium with three 120 deg sectors at each MicroPoP, with our water tower having six 60 deg sectors within Ravenna city limits.
I had hoped to GPS synchronize each Rocket, however, we all know that Ubiquiti never was able to deliver. I tried to get all of the Rockets to work well together in 20 MHz channels, but I was having issues with self-interference. I moved my Rockets to 10 MHz channels to help, but unfortunately, I was also getting interference from our competitor and home routers. The first year deploying Ubiquiti the network was running okay in the 10 MHz channels. I was seeing around 20-30 Mbps per client; but as I added more clients, quality/capacity began to decline. By late 2015, the best speeds we could achieve at most customer sites were around 8-15 Mbps.
(2014) Our old MicroPoP!:
Solving Problems with Backhaul Sync - Enter Mimosa
In early 2015, I began to deploy Mimosa backhauls and continued to replace our slow, non-sync radios. The new B5/B5c/B5 Lite radios greatly improved throughput to each site and with the B5 and B5c sync helped save spectrum.
(April 2016) New backhauls:
Finally - Mimosa Multipoint!
In May 2016 I received my first shipment of Mimosa A5-14’s and C5s - they weren’t yet synchronized, but with my experience with the B5, I was ready to give it a try - I ordered 250 C5s and 14 A5s. Upon receiving the radios, I quickly began replacing our old Ubiquiti Rocket M5 Titanium sectors with A5s. These A5s were ran in WiFi Interop mode as we replaced Ubiquiti clients with Mimosa during the migration period. I had our customer service representative in the office unlock and update routers to help our installers with the swaps. I replaced the remaining Ubiquiti backhauls with 24 GHz, 60 GHz, and 80 GHz radios. The longer links were replaced with B5 or B5 Lites. We replaced over 200 Ubiquiti radios within a four month time period with C5s. I then sold the Ubiquiti radios online to help purchase more C5s.
(May 2016) 1st shipment of Mimosa C5:
(May 2016) Newly installed A5. All of the sectors shown have been replaced with the A5. Sectors have been removed.
The beginning of June 2016, I received my first A5c. Testing went well and again we began replacing Ubiquiti clients with C5s. I then took down our 6 Titanium Rockets on the water tower and replaced them with Mimosa A5c’s and KP Performance x4 65 deg sectors.
(June 2016) 1st Mimosa A5c:
(January 2017) Mimosa A5c GigaPoP with KP Performance antennas:
Expanding to a full MicroPoP architecture
Due to all of the trees in Ravenna, I added more A5 micro pops in Ravenna to help keep all of our C5 signals around a -55 or better. I added around 7 new microPOP sites to add to our existing 7 sites. I mounted equipment on houses, small towers, an industrial building, and even a tree. Whatever it took to get the best signal as you really want to try and be around a -55 or better. We would mount the microPOP enclosure on the outside of the house or building, run a dedicated electrical line to the enclosure from the circuit breaker, and have a lease with the landowner just like our tower leases.
(June 2016) One of the new house MicroPOPs:
50ft tower with a A5
Mimosa A5 and B5-Lite mounted to a tree:
Finally - Mimosa Multipoint GPS Sync!
I have been beta testing Mimosa’s TDMA Sync firmware for almost 45 days. The latency has been good and speeds are consistent at around 150-200 Mbps download and upload. I’ve been running them in 8 ms 50/50 TDMA. The transition from wifi interop mode to TDMA is very simple, needing only one change required on the A5 and the C5s will automatically adjust.
Our network currently has over twenty-five A5 or A5c’s within the city limits of Ravenna which is about a two mile radius. All of the A5’s are running 80 MHz channels, and my A5c’s that are running TDMA are also in 80 MHz. All of these A5’s and A5c’s are currently using 260 MHz of spectrum, in total, thanks to frequency reuse. In addition, the A5 or A5c will sync with a B5 link. The results have been amazing! With the addition of C5c to our network, I believe we should be able to get our current spectrum consumption down to 80 or 160MHz.
Below is a link to a video that I made, with my drone, of the Ravenna water tower with the tree of KP Performance X4 4x4 65 degree sectors. There are currently five sectors on the tree. I will eventually add another sector, properly mount the A5c’s, and clean up the wires. Two of the sectors on the tree that are located back to back are running in the exact same frequency with no self-interference. The other two sectors are currently still running in WiFi Interop as I still have Ubiquiti clients connected to them.