In September 2014, the LCWA board of directors voted to increase our contracted Century Link speed from 100 Mbps to 200 Mbps. In November 2014, the board voted to set a goal of increasing speed to our members of 3 Mbps up and 3 Mbps down as soon as possible. Our ultimate goal is to increase the speed of the network to 10 Mbps. [In January 2015, the FCC standard for broadband Internet changed from 4 Mbps to 25 Mbps.]
The current backbone topology of our network was designed for considerably less traffic than we are now experiencing. As a result, some areas of our network perform less consistently than others. We are currently in the process of installing new radios in order to achieve 3 Mbps upload and download consistently throughout the entire network. Once these new radios have been installed and the infrastructure performance is consistent, our goal is to increase the network speed of the entire network to 10 Mbps upload and download.
Proposal for the AC Upgrade
Phil Curnutt of the LCWA volunteer Technical Group has contracted with LCWA to design and oversee this upgrade. From his proposal to upgrade to the new Ubiquiti AC products:
“Seems like only yesterday LCWA upgraded our backbone radios, AP radios and back haul radio’s. In fact, the backbone upgrade was completed (mostly) nearly two years ago, the AP upgrades (for the most part) a little over a year ago and the back haul (AF-24 and AF-5) over the last year and a half. These upgrades added significant stability and a modicum of throughput to the network, such that we were able to increase our PPPoE limits by over 100%.
Unfortunately that limit is only 4 Mbps down, barely half of the suggested “broadband” throughput recommendation. Significantly, during this period of upgrade our incoming traffic increased nearly 100% as well. The sad truth is that the hard work we did over the last three years to increase our ability to provide was only sufficient to keep up with the traffic increase.”
Sufficient Cash Flow for Equipment
The AC upgrade is expected to take at least two years to complete and cost approximately $150,000. For the project to proceed efficiently, LCWA will have to have sufficient cash flow on hand to order equipment as necessary. To facilitate this, the LCWA board voted in August 2015 to increase the monthly service fee to members by $5 to $35 a month.
The fee for new members went into effect as of September 1, 2015. The fee to existing members will be increased in the billing cycle following installation of their new radios.
Expenses To Date
The first six months of Phil Curnutt’s contract went from March to August 2015. During this time, a little over $40,000 was spent on materials for the AC upgrade. In addition, an average of 64 hours of contract labor a month was incurred. The contract will be renewed for another six months in October 2015.
Additional expenses have also been incurred for the NCGR upgrade, Lamy AP upgrade, the solar installation at CerroChatto, the Happy Trails AP, switches and ongoing equipment needs, and other expenditures that have been necessary to support the AC upgrade.
LCWA Cash on Hand
Despite these expenditures and in advance of a fee increase to the members, LCWA has $51,278 on hand as of October 2015. In October 2014, before incurring the expenses of the AC upgrade, LCWA had $56,583 on hand. As of October 2015, our membership has increased 9%: we currently have 437 members—40 more members than in October 2014.