La Cañada Wireless Association

2016 Accomplishments

2016 Accomplishments

Summary of Accomplishments for 2016

An LCWA Technical Group Report 12/12/2016


This year saw a number of significant changes in LCWA. For the first time in years, the monthly service fee was increased for all members. This change was necessitated by a major upgrade project aimed at increasing our capability to deliver significantly increased bandwidth and reliability to all members

The principle first goal of the upgrade project was to reliably deliver 5 Mbps service to all members – even the most remote. The second goal was to give us the capability to increase the data rates provided to members once the upgrade was complete.

This project was always envisioned as a multi-year effort, that would require substantial improvements to our backbone before we could begin upgrading member radios. Some benefits, in terms of increased stability and reliability would be realized by all members as the backbone upgrades were completed, Many members saw increased performance even with the older radios as a result of elimination of backbone bottlenecks.

A number of members have questioned the benefit they are receiving for the fee increase, so the end of the year seems like a good time to give the membership a report on where we stand on the project, and the plans for the immediate future and into next year.


The 5 AC conversion project took off in earnest. This effort was motivated by the increased bandwidth (speed) capability offered by radios operating in the 5 GHz band, and by the substantial increase in the number of available channels in the 5 GHz band. Our ability to continue to deliver service in the 2.4 GHz band was constrained by increasing competition for limited channel space caused by competition from more powerful home WiFi routers and by completion from other providers. The conversion project is being done by LCWA providing members with new radios as access points are converted to 5 GHz capability. The decision to have LCWA purchase and configure all of the radios was made to achieve economies of scale, to ensure that the correct radios were purchased for each member, to ensure that the radios were uniformly correctly configured, and to allow for flexibility in assigning radios to members based on issues that would only be discovered at installation time – primarily line of site details that require a different radio that initially planned to be actually installed

There are currently over 560 radios in the system counting all member radios ( more than 421), member access point radios(72), backbone access point radios(33) and backbone down link radios(33). Of these, as of 12/5/2016, approximately 380 have been upgraded to 5 GHz AC or airFiber radios. (A few have been switched to 900 MHz to deal with trees, etc. – these will not be converted) Approximately 180 radios remain to be converted. The rate of progress is constrained primarily by the number of volunteers available to actually do the work, and in some cases, by equipment availability issues and budget constraints. The numbers are approximate because our volunteers continue to be busily making changes. Please note that the usual operation of the network and maintenance of existing facilities did not cease just because of the upgrade project – our active volunteers were already busy before we started this effort. (“If you really want a job done, give it to someone who is already busy!” )

Over the last year, the Technical Group has found that the Ubiquiti equipment has been significantly more reliable, requiring few replacements of failed equipment and on-site repairs than any previous radio equipment used in the past.


New cables were installed extending from the computer room to the rooftop were installed to allow 6 independent gigabit connections and to provide for future upgrade to fiber connection from the computer room to the rooftop.

A new cabinet and improved wiring and lightning protection were installed on the NCGR rooftop.

Two new Cisco switches were added.

A new circuit to Cybermesa was installed. This involved a new airFiber 24 on the NCGR roof using the new cables to provide a backup circuit and additional 200 Mbps service from Cybermesa.

LCWA acquired a dedicated Autonomous System (AS) number from American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) allowing us to implement Border Gateway Protocol routing for the connections to our two suppliers, Cybermesa and CenturyLink. This allows automatic load leveling when both suppliers are up, and automated failover and recovery when one supplier goes down for any reason. This was prompted in primarily by the CenturyLink failures in March of 2016.

A new contract was negotiated with CenturyLink to increase the bandwidth supplied from 200 Mbps to 1000 Mbps. This transition will be occurring in mid-December, and, if the new BGP capability works as expected, should occur completely transparently to the members, even though the CenturyLink circuit may be down for several hours while CenturyLink implements the transition to the new circuits.

The overall impact of these efforts is that the total bandwidth supplied to LCWA will have increased from 200 Mbps to 1200 Mbps in one year. During the same time period we have seen usage of the network by member increase from a typical total peak evening rate of less than 100 Mbps to a typical total peak evening rate of over 250 Mbps. (See Appendix 1 below for more details)

The number of members has increased from approximately 430 in January of 2016 to 446 in December of 2016. The primary factor in the increase in overall network utilization is therefore increased data delivery to existing members as opposed to new usage by new members.

Vail Mountain Site

Three new routers were installed to support increased bandwidth distribution needs.

Replacement of all backbone and member access point radios at the site with new Prism 5 GHz AC radios was completed.

DonJose, Westside Aggregation Point

A new CISCO switch and two new routers were added. The uninterruptible power supply (UPS) was upgraded. The power-over-ethernet radio power supply system was upgraded. Additional surge protection was added to all radios. An additional access point was installed to better serve the members to the north of DonJose. Microwave links were added serve the Goldmine/Main node, another to serve the WaldoMesa/RainbowsEnd/MadridHeights/OldGoat node and a third to serve the CerroChato/ViadeLoma/Redrock/BajaWaldo node. A point to point 5 AC link was added to serve the BlueRaven access point and the DonJose2South aggregation point was upgraded to 5AC. There are now nine radios mounted at the DonJose site, five on the tower and four on the roof of the dwelling.

East Side AP Upgrades Completed and in Progress

Upgraded Eastside AP’s
MountainTop – upgrade complete, 7 member upgrades complete

HappyTrails – upgrade complete, 11 member upgrades complete RanchoDeBosque – upgrade complete, 8 member upgrades complete SetonVillage – upgrade complete, 10 member upgrades complete SpiritRidge – upgrade in progress, member upgrades in progress VeranoDrive – upgrade complete, member upgrades in progress

Newly Installed Eastside APs

Tortuga – AP & 15 new members installed, 8 members upgraded OwlCreekPTP – new member installed
SenderodeCorazonPTP – new member installed
SerpentineRidge5 – 2 new members installed, 14 member upgrades complete

PiedrasNegras2OSFTPTP – 2 member upgrades complete LosHornos55PTP – 2 new members installed NewMoonOverlook5 – member upgrades in progress RidgeRoad5 – 14 member upgrades complete

Overlook5 – 8 member upgrades complete
JicarillaRidge – activation pending completion of electrical service ( See below)

Decommissioned Eastside APs

RedSky & NewRedSky – decommissioning complete
CampStoney – decommissioning complete
Duende- in progress until stations are transferred to other AP’s SpurRanch- in progress until stations are transferred to other AP’s Canoncito – pending activation of JicarilliaRidge and transfer of stations.

West Side AP Upgrades Completed and in Progress

Goldmine access point AC upgrade completed – member rollout essentially completed. The member hosting the Goldmine access point purchased and installed a much appreciated new ROHN tower for the LCWA access point equipment. .

Main access point AC upgrade completed. A new ROHN tower was installed to provide a stable platform for the 5AC sector radios and the downlink radio. Member upgraded radio rollout is essentially completed for this AP. There are a couple of difficult line of sight cases still to be resolved, so the 2.4GHz Main AP is still in operation.

Madrid Heights access point replacement near completion – member relocation essentially completed. OldGoat access point completed and members upgrades complete. Sunset Strip access point upgrade complete, member upgrade pending. OldGoat and SunsetStrip are infill access points to serve difficult member sites.

WaldoMesa access point upgrade completed – member rollout in progress.

RainbowsEnd access point upgrade completed, member upgrade completed. GeneralGoodwin access point added for in fill to service difficult member sites.

DonJose access point upgrade complete, member upgrades in progress and nearing completion.

BlueRaven backbone upgrade complete, access point upgrade pending.

CerroChato access point upgrade completed, member upgrades started this month, December. See Major Highlights below.

Redrock access point upgrade completed, member upgrades started this month, December. BajaWaldo access point upgrade completed, member upgrades started this month, December.

Major Highlights


A major upgrade to the Cerro Chato site was completed. This involved complete replacement of the solar system and installation of new member access point and downlink radios supporting BajaWaldo, Redrock, and ViaDeLoma access points. This is a remote solar site with a 30 foot tower.

In order to improve bandwidth delivery to the “raggedy edge” of the network the CerroChato access point was upgraded to an aggregation point. Traffic bound for the four access points that serve the far west side of the network are now transmitted to CerroChato via a high speed microwave link from DonJose. It is then distributed to the access point via additional microwave links. As this is a solar powered site in order to accomplish our goal we needed to upgrade the existing PV array to handle the power required for four additional radios. This upgrade was completed in October, followed by the upgrade to three of the four access points aggregated at CerroChato. The remaining access point, ViadeLoma, also requires an additional PV panel to power the additional AP radio and microwave radio that are to added to the site to meet our design goals. This upgrade is pending, waiting for delivery of necessary hardware, which should arrive this week, mid December 2016. See photos below.

The picture above is the Cerro Chato tower before the upgrades.

The picture above is the Cerro Chato solar array before the upgrades

The picture above is the Cerro Chato tower after the upgrades. Note in particular the larger solar array, the new downlink radio on the lower right hand side of the tower. Barely visible to the right of the solar array at ground level is the new controller box containing batteries planned to be sufficient for several consecutive cloudy days.

Via de Loma

This is the current situation at the Via de Loma tower. Note that only the solar panels mounted directly on the tower are LCWA’s. The other panels are the homeowners. The single panel on the tower will be replaced by two panels on a ground mount, the two surplused 6 volt batteries from the CerroChato upgrade will be added to the two existing batteries and a new solar controller and monitoring system will be installed.


At the request of the Galisteo Basin Preserve we install an AP site on New Moon Overlook to serve the homeowners in that area of the GBP. Because of its location the NewMoonOverlook AP will also be able to serve the Spur Ranch and southern Eldorado areas. This site is on an old windmill tower that is similar to the CerroChato site.


In order to improve service to the Canoncito, Apache Ridge, Apache Canyon and east Old Las Vegas Highway areas a new access point site was required to take the load off of the SpiritRidge access point which now serves all of those areas. After a long search an existing cell site above Glorieta Pass was identified as serving that purpose. In order to facilitate installation we chose to use a cement block ballasted ground mount supporting a 22 foot mast on which are access point radio’s to cover the service areas and a microwave downlink to SpiritRidge. At SpiritRidge the traffic is then switched to another microwave link directly to Vail rather than routed via RidgeRoad to Vail as before the upgrades.

Plans for 2017

The current goal is to complete the 5 AC upgrade project by mid-2017. Some of the intermediate goals are summarized below. Naturally this is all subject to change, volunteer availability, and events beyond our control.

First Quarter

All East side AC upgrades should be completed Verano Drive

West side AC upgrades in First Quarter

Cerro Chato – AP upgrade complete – member rollout continues
Redrock – AP upgrade complete – member rollout continues
ViaDeLama – AP upgrade will be completed by the end of December and ready for member upgrades.
Grenfell – AP upgrade scheduled, hardware to be ordered in Dec.
BlueRaven– AP upgrade scheduled, hardware to be ordered in Dec.
HorseShelter– AP upgrade scheduled, hardware to be ordered in Jan.
SanLazaro– AP upgrade scheduled, hardware to be ordered in Jan.
DonJose– AP upgrade scheduled, hardware to be ordered in Feb.
HorneyToad – New solar AP for difficult to reach members planned.
Goldmine- Additional AP radio to be added to existing two AP radios to reduce load on Goldmine5North

NCGR and Vail Site
Additional new switches and routers are planned.

In Conclusion

As always, more volunteers make for more progress. The outstanding team effort to create the new Jicarilla Ridge access point is a case in point. The volunteer’s current skill levels don’t matter as much as a willingness to learn and the willingness to see something that needs done and step up and do it. Come to a meeting, monthly at NCGR, East Side Saturdays, West Side Saturdays and join in on the project of the day. See the website or Facebook for times and locations. Most of our current active volunteers started off by tagging along, watching, and asking questions. A lot of what needs done does not require advanced technical skills, and by taking on the non-technical stuff, one can free up the technically inclined to do what they do best.

For example, our new radio installation inspector below, who is verifying correct antenna alignment…:

Appendix 1 – Bandwidth Usage Charts

The charts below are generated on the MaxxWave router located at NCGR, which is the LCWA gateway to the internet. These screenshots were taken at 10 a.m. MST on 12/13/2016.

CenturyLink usage by month.

Please note that this graph shows the average data rate in megabits per second over an entire 24 hour period, which does not reflect our actual peak usage. The effect of the CenturyLink caused outage in March and effect of adding Cybermesa in May are clear. (Green is data from CenturyLink to LCWA, and Blue is data from LCWA to CenturyLink)

CyberMesa usage by month

After the CenturyLink debacle in March, LCWA entered into a contract with a second, local, provider. Cybermesa is headquartered in Santa Fe, and could provide data at an affordable rate. A link using Ubiquiti airFiber radios to a site where Cybermesa has a fiber feed to their providers was established, tested, and put into production in early May. (Green is data from CyberMesa to LCWA, and Blue is data from LCWA to CyberMesa)

Total usage by Month

The combined total of CenturyLink and Cybermesa traffic. (For this chart Blue is data from Internet to LCWA, and Green is data from LCWA to Internet) Note that over a year, the daily average usage has increased from around 65-70 megabits per second to around 105-120 megabits per second.

Daily Total Usage

This chart shows the average data rate over five minute intervals, which lets us see the peak usage, as opposed to the daily averages shown above. (For this chart Blue is data from Internet to LCWA, and Green is data from LCWA to Internet) The time scale is 24 hour Greenwich Mean Time, so you have to subtract 7 hours to get Mountain Standard Time. Thus, for example, the peak traffic shown below occurred at about 9 PM MST.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *