Tower Router hardware

If I may ask of you all, what are some of the other wisps using for routing hardware at the towers? We have towers where we have physical access to devices on the ground as well as a few towers in which our hardware is only accessible to a climber.

I have been looking at a good deal of the available hardware to start routing at our towers but I’m still torn. My dilemma … the cheaper hardware doesn’t look like it could withstand the freezing cold winters, hot summers and wonderful rain that fills the gaps between the two extremes. The more expensive hardware would pretty much break the bank for us so …

What are you using out there and how well has it worked for you?

We’ve been deploying Mikrotik routers at a few towers. Distribution towers get 5-10 port gigabit routers (RB450g is about $100, 5 gigabit ports, RB2011 is about $125 with 5 gigabit, 5 10/100 and one SFP socket) while we have a couple towers where we’ve gone without CMMs, and provide sync to PMP320 and Canopy900 APs via PacketFlux SyncInjector gear, backed up by a 19-port mikrotik router. (RB816 - three gigabit ports, 16 10/100 ports, about $500)

With that last, in one case we’re running 6 900mhz APs one one group of 8 10/100 ports bridged together, 4 PMP320 APs on another group of 6 10/100 ports bridged, the remaining 2 10/100 ports for monitoring/management gear, and the gigabit ports are backhaul in and two backhauls out to more distant towers. Those babies are doing DHCP for the 10 attached APs and for the remote towers.

We haven’t yet run into any significant problems, thermal or otherwise. One of the 19-port deals has been running for about 10 months now without issues. That unit is mounted along with sync and power gear for APs and backhauls in a small ventilated (but not air-conditioned or heated) shed at the base of the tower. Environment is the North Carolina/South Carolina border, temps hit 100+ peak during the summer, lows in the upper teens at the coldest this past winter, but not often.

We generally try to minimize gear placed up the tower, preferring to have as much as possible at ground level for ease of access and lightning avoidance purposes. (our towers as a group take 5-10 lightning hits a year) We also make sure we have at least one spare device for every 3-4 in the field, but so far have only lost one router in the past two years.


We use Mikrotik, it’s the best thing I’ve found from a feature set/environmental operating range perspective that meets a reasonable price point.

we use all juniper routing and swich, its not cheep like the mikrotik but it is built proof, we have 3 large routers (srx 650) at network edges and all of the towers have switches capable of basic routing, any customers that have special needs are vlan’d, which one of the major things that is nice about the juniper system is you only build the vlan at start and finish, all devices inbetween will be instucted by device 0 to populate the vlan as needed and drop as needed. the Juniper routers support a wide range of PICs from multiple OC and STM cards ,DS1,3 Multiple T cards, 10 and 25GB ethernet, plus a crazy powerful and reduntant routing engine. if your network is going to grown to any major size, trying to go cheep on a router may not be wise… just my experince.

as far as lightning, If you are losing that kind of hardware, you need to review your grounding… we have approx 250 basestations deployed and a few GPON trucks… we may lose 1 or 2 a year… we have lost no switches or routers, 1 CMM that i can think of.

if your mikrotiks are blowing easy, they are not exactly a good value???

Well, the one instance where we lost a Mikrotik we also lost the CMM, the BH, and 1/2 the APs on the tower - took a direct hit. (CMM and BH repairable, others didn’t bother) Certainly can’t blame the router for it. We generally see a tremendous number of lightning strikes in the area through the stormy season, this past year we’ve only had three incidents that damaged gear at a tower (out of 35 towers), so we’re doing pretty good all in all.