Wireless FAQ-Castles Information Network
Wireless General Information and FAQ
On this page is information about Castles Wireless Service. We DO NOT provide satellite Internet service. Castles provide point-to-point wireless and also called point-to-multipoint. Please scroll down for full information and answers to your questions about the service.
Castles Wireless Service Areas
Castles wireless is point-to-multipoint which means that to have service we must have clear line-of-sight from your location to one of the towers.
Capay Valley, Esparto & Yolo County
We can service any point up to 25 miles from Berryessa Peak that has good line-of-sight. That includes Woodland. If you can see our tower on top of Berryessa Peak then you most likely can get our service.
Solano, Yolo and Napa Counties
We broadcast 360 degrees from the top of Mt. Vaca and the tallest hill west and behind the Vacaville Prison.
Castles technicians are always happy to complete a free sight survey.
Simply complete the Site Survey Form and we'll do the rest. You don't even have to be home.
Don't have line-of sight?
If you don't have line-of-sight at your location, perhaps your neighbor does. We may be able to install a relay. One house or business must have good line-of-sight to the tower. We can complete a standard installation at that location and install a small pole-type relay that will relay the signal to the other locations. The location that hosts the relay must agree to provide 110V electrical and in turn receives Internet access at a significantly reduced rate.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Standard Installations
Q: Do I need a telephone line?
Q: Where do you install the Antenna (Radio)?
- A: No – Castles Wireless Internet doesn’t require POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) like dialup or DSL. The Radio Unit (Antenna - Subscriber Module), considered the CPE (Customer Premise Equipment), on your roof or another elevated place on your property is connected to a power injector (power supply) typically inside your home or office. The power injector has two (2) Cat5 (Ethernet) ports. On port powers the Radio Unit and the port of for Internet access. Depending on our programming, you must connect a router to the power injector or can connect a computer directly to it and have an Internet connetion. No telephone line needed!
- A: To receive and transmit a wireless signal you must have direct line-of-sight (LoS) between the broadcast tower or a local relay point. We must locate the Antenna where we have LoS. We attempt to install the unit in a location that achieves LoS, is reasonably close to where the cable will enter the house – and as out of sight as possible.
Q: Do I need a wireless router?
- Some customers chose to install a pole in the ground and run a cable to their house. We recommend 1.5” EMT conduit. We can mount to almost any solid structure. However, the structure must be secure and not be able to rotate or sway in the wind.
Q: How long does your typical wireless installation take?
- A: Yes and No. The answer is dependent on whether you are on NAT (Network Address Translation) or have a Static IP programmed in their router. Most customers are on NAT where we program the static IP into the Radio. Castles used to provide the first router as part of the installation. However, those standard routers are no adequate for many customers. We now have the customer research and purchase a router that fits their needs. If you have a single computer that can be hardwired with an Ethernet cable, then you do not need a router and can connect directly to the power injector if we program the radio as NAT.
Q: Do I own the equipment?
- A: A typical installation takes between 2 and 3 hours.
Q: Can I get Castles Wireless at my location?
- A: This is dependent on the type of equipment and when your installation took place. Castles typically owns and maintains the wireless equipment supplied at installation. In some instances customer may provide their own equipment. Some installations provide for access to separate structures. In those case the customer will normally own that equipment.
Q: Can I do the installation myself?
- A: To request a free site survey, please complete the survey form.
Q: When I watch YouTube videos, streaming videos and such it seems like the video stops for loading.
- A: No. First, for your safety we recommend the installation done by our trained contractor. The equipment must be properly (and solidly) installed. We must still send our contractor out to align the equipment properly to give you the best possible service and the cost is the same so you may as well have them install the equipment. You may contact us for unique situations - we're flexible.
- A: Many things affect your video viewing experience. We suggest you view videos in standard format as opposed to HD. Also check the video settings and change the settings so the Speed is 'Normal' and adjust the Quality settings until you have a good viewing experience. 360p and 480p are suggested.
Burstable and Sustained Rates Defined
**Burstable rates vary by plan. Burstable rates are a factor of all components working together. Your rate may vary depending on your distance from a tower or relay, Customer Premise Equipment (CPE), age, type and function of your router, whether you are hardwired to the router or connected via WIFI, environmental factors, age and condition of connections and cables, the age and function of the device you are connecting with and the available bandwidth of the network at any given time.
Castles provides a “shared” broadband Internet connection for its subscribers. Because the connection is shared, certain shaping rules must be implemented to provide a stable experience for all. As a result, we have a “Burstable” rate, and a “Sustained” rate.
Initially, when a customer begins transferring data across the Internet, they are allowed a high Burstable rate up to 25 Megabits and higher for download and 5 Megabits for upload.** The customer may continue at that rate until a pre-determined amount of data transfer is reached. Picture an empty bucket of water. When you first turn on the hose, you can fill the bucket up at a fast rate – but eventually, the bucket will become full and you must decrease the flow to keep it from overflowing. The speed at which you are filling the empty bucket is called the Burstable rate.
Now imagine there is a hole in the bottom of the bucket. This allows water to leak out of the bucket at a consistent rate. When you reach the top of the bucket, the flow from the hose must be reduced to match the rate at which the water is leaking out through the hole – thus keeping the bucket at the full line and never overflowing. This rate is the Sustained rate. When a user is idle and data transfer stops, the bucket continues to empty at a consistent rate. When the user starts transferring data again, the Burstable rate is applied – until the bucket becomes full, then the Sustained rate is applied. Keep in mind that the sustained rate is not a fixed and guranteed rate. A number of both physical, equipment and environmental factors affect the sustained rate. Sustained rate is affected by the ability of our Level 1 upstream providers to provide bandwidth, the number of customers using the network and the specific AP (Access Point) or Relay you are connected to. Castles employs load-balancing to give you the very best experience possible. You will often see very high burstable and sustained rates on speed tests during the day and lower ones in the evening hours. Speed tests show averages and do not necesarily show the true speed you are getting.
Committed Information Rate (CIR)
We also have a Committed Information Rate (CIR) for certain business customers that meet the necessary qualifications. The CIR has the same Burstable properties as the shared connection above, however, the Sustained rate is set higher (there is a bigger hole in the bucket)
For a chart of Burstable and Sustained Rate see the chart on the Pricing Page
How It Works
The wireless towers setting on the mountain ridges are connected together either by hard-wired systems or wireless relays that connect to the Internet.
Castles field technicians install a Subscriber Module (Radio) at your location and point it towards the tower location with the best line-of-sight and signal. The field technician works with other technicans at a control panel to make adjustments that get the strongest signal possible. Once that's done they run an indoor/outdoor Cat5 (Ethernet) cable along the exterior of the house (similar to a cable installation) and in through an exterior wall. There they terminate the cable with a modular connector/power injector. The power injector is plugged into a 110v wall outlet to power the Subscriber Module. The Radio is programmed with a unique identifier that allows it to access our network.
One the radio is programmed, connected and has good LoS, the technician locks it down. A customer can then connect their PC or Mac directly to the open port on the power injector and enjoy great Internet access. They can also purchase a wireless router of their choice and plug that into the open port of the power injector and have WIFI in their home or office.
Additional connections and wireless access
Typical Ubiquiti Setup.
The Exterior Ethernet cable goes to the outside radio and connected to the POE port on the power injector. The LAN port is for the Ethernet cable that goes to either a PC or Mac or a WIFI router.
Older Canopy Connection.
A power supply provide power to te outside radio through the connection cube. A PC or Mac can be connected with an Ethernet Cable to the cube and have Internet access of the radio is programmed with NAT. If not, the customer must have a WIFI router programmed with a Static IP.
The customer is responsible for the purchase/installation of any wireless device and also for configuring additional computers for Internet access. Castles technicians will not install internal devices. Field technicians are not allowed to go further than configuring the computer for Internet access. Support for email is provided by the Castles Support Team toll free at 877-205-5246.
Standard installation includes the exterior equipment and power injector. The wireless router if required is provided by the customer. Standard installation includes up to 100 feet of cable from the Subscriber Module (Radio) to the router. Field technicians do not do attic or under floor crawls to complete the installation. Standard installations penetrate the exterior wall and the cable is run through the wall to the interior. If the homeowner wishes to have the cable in the attic or under the floor, the homeowner can install a conduit with a pull cord or contact Castles regarding the specific type of cable to use.
In some rural locations line-of-sight is blocked at the home by trees, hills or other structures. If you have line-of-sight from another point on the property and within 300 cable feet of the power supply, we can complete an installation. A technician will mark the spot for the homeowner - who would then install a 4x4 wood post or metal pipe in concrete at that location. The homeowner would also provide a trench and conduit back to the home for the cable.
In lieu of a buried cable and the expense of doing that Castles can set up an onsite relay from the LoS point to a radio on the office or home.
The Castles Wireless System
The Castles Wireless Internet Platform is a broadband wireless communication system that supports high speed Internet access. It’s simply the best solution for providing high-speed wireless Internet to our customers.
The wireless system is built
on two basic building blocks
Access Point (AP)
- Access Point (AP)
- Subscriber Module (SM)
The Access Point (AP) is a base station that incorporates between one and twelve transceivers. Each transceiver operates with a 60-degree directional antenna to provide coverage to one sector. Each AP transceiver delivers data through-put with connectivity to 200 subscribers. The system uses a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver with interconnect board; this receiver is used to synchronize the transmissions of all APs to minimize interference between APs. (2)
Subscriber Module (SM)
The Subscriber Module (SM) is the subscriber termination unit. It consists of a single transceiver that operates with a 60-degree antenna. SM synchronization and control is accomplished via the received AP signal. Once the SM is initialized, it scans the RF channels and automatically registers and authenticates with the appropriate AP. Each SM requires a Category 5 cable with DC power supplied to the SM through that same cable. The SM kit requires a separate 110 or 220V power supply (ACPS110 or ACPS220) and associated RJ45 connector to power the SM.
Routers are provided by the individual customer and can be purchased locally at many retail establishments online. Standard wireless routers typically start around $45 and go up in cost depending on what type of router and the broadcast range you want.
The router accommodates a wireless network. Wireless network cards are not provided as part of the standard installation.
(2) Wireless system engineers proactively monitor the wireless system. A complex network management system is employed to maximize Internet connections for all users.