We worked to keep our customers updated during Harvey via email, website, and social media. We wanted to also keep record of those posts in our blog in case customers needed to refer to dates.

Hurricane Harvey Network Impact

repair HarveyCUSTOMER UPDATE for Wednesday, August 30th:

We are pleased to report that the sun is shining on most of Houston today and the forecast indicates for that to continue through the Labor Day weekend. The sunshine is a welcome relief from the incessant rains. With the sun, there is obvious relief from adding more water into the heavily flooded areas, but also offering a buoyancy to the morale here at PS Lightwave and the general Houston community.

More roads have become passable, and today we are happy to report that we have 65% of the staff back in the office, another 15% telecommuting, and expect to be at near normal staffing levels on Thursday. We are pleased to report that all of our employees are safe, a few have suffered flooding in their homes, and some are evacuated from their homes. Our staff has exhibited great dedication and commitment to their responsibilities of maintaining critical network services, volunteering and rescuing efforts, and keeping their families safe during this ordeal.

Our field crews have been actively working to restore services since Hurricane Harvey first hit. Although we have been successfully restoring service in some areas, there are a few locations that are completely inaccessible by any route with all roads closed due to high waters. We continue to attempt to drive to those locations and ensure those sites are up as soon as water levels decrease and we are able to reach them. PS Lightwave construction supervisors continue to drive the routes to proactively inspect the condition of the network and initiate any necessary repairs. Although services outages are our top priority, we are already allocating some of our resources back to "business as usual" in areas where it is feasible, turning our attention to new service commitments to ensure that we meet customer expectations for upcoming delivery dates.

Ports: An Important Part of Network Security

Make sure your ports are covered!

By Robbie Adair, PS LIGHTWAVE Consultant

In this data-driven and IoT world, businesses have to take network security very seriously, re-evaluating and checking their current policies and procedures often. There are many steps to setup and then maintain a secure network. First is obviously the physical security, such as the servers, cabling, and devices. Who has access, where they are housed for protections against the elements, and power supplies are some of the major items to be considered on a physical network. Second is the non-physical part of the network, the “unseen” structure that allows for business to be conducted with internal and external employees and clients of the company. This non-physical side of the network is more often wrongly configured policies that need to be scrutinized, as digital space is the most likely source for security breaches.

Firewalls, Services, and Ports, Oh My

On the non-physical part of the network, there are three basic parts to analyze – firewalls, services, and ports. Services run on computers and networks through ports, and firewalls are used to enforce security policies about which services are allowed to move through which ports. The term “port” in this instance is referring to network ports, not the physical ones found on switches, but rather virtual ports that are part of the Internet Protocol. There are many types of services, but some of the most common services used in business networks would be:

  • HTTP(s) – for Internet connections
  • SMTP – for email
  • FTP – for transferring files
  • DNS – for converting domain names to Internet addresses
  • Telnet, SSH, RDP, & VNC – for remote access

Robert Jacobs

Robert Jacobs, a PS LIGHTWAVE employee, recently received a surprise honor from one of our partners, Extreme. He has been a member of The Hub, Extreme Network’s community forum, since it was formed in 2014. This active forum has around 5000 users, and they moderate it with the help of a full time support engineer and various volunteers. Extreme started an “Embassador” (E for Extreme) program a few months back and have added a few chosen experts as contributors and helpers with issues and questions that are posted.

A couple of weeks ago, the PS LIGHTWAVE team visited the Extreme Network TAC and support center in Raleigh, NC to discuss future plans with this vendor. During the first meeting, the topic of the forum came up, and Robert mentioned his forum handle, EtherMan. The VP got excited because he realized that he and the other forum moderators had discussed in an internal Extreme committee on asking EtherMan about becoming one of their Champions and Embassadors. Needless to say, once the connection was made, they ended up promoting Robert later that day, and he met the forum manager, Drew, who gave him a nice shirt pin and cup. Drew then walked the team around showing them the test bed where they “lab up” scenarios that present themselves from time to time.

Facts regarding ISPs selling customer data

https blogBy Robbie Adair, PS LIGHTWAVE Consultant

In March 2017, the United States Congress voted to repeal the FCC Internet privacy rules that were going to go into effect later this year. The FCC Internet privacy rules were explicitly designed to prohibit Internet providers like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and PS Lightwave from sharing, selling or utilizing client data like usage history, browsing habits, geolocation information, and more. There were policies in place before these rules, but they were unclear and confusing. By repealing the new rules, something that was lobbied for by many of the large scale Internet providers, the common fear is that ISP’s will be more aggressive in data gathering and sharing of your online activities.

Who’s setting the Rules now?

Internet provider services are classified as “common carriers” under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. With that, the FCC still can interpret the Communications Act of 1934 as they see fit. The FCC can even pursue legal action against a company they determine has broken the rules as they interpret them. No one knows yet how the new Chairman of the FCC is going to interpret them. With that, the ISP’s are in unknown territory. If an ISP starts taking advantage of the fact that the Internet privacy rules are repealed, they might cross FCC guidelines. In addition, if an ISP breaks its own privacy policies or starts collecting customer meta-data for sharing with 3rd parties, a state attorney general could also take a company to court if this practice could be construed as “unfair” to other businesses or violates state law.

By Jennifer Henderson, PS LIGHTWAVE Communications Manager

DISC symbols blogM

At PS Lightwave, we use the DISC Assessment as a tool toward a better understanding of, and better communication with one another. DISC is the most widely used tool of its kind, and offers a comprehensive overview of the way people interact with one another, and process information from those interactions. “DISC” is an acronym for: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness, the four behavior types identified in the assessment.

We have created a program that pairs each behavioral type with an element of nature and we’ve created symbols that represent each element. During onboarding, new team members are given the opportunity to take the DISC Assessment, and have their behavioral type symbol on their desk nameplate.

To find out if they are a D, I, S, or C behavior type, team members answer a short multiple-choice quiz designed to measure their natural responses in a variety of circumstances.

https blogBy Robbie Adair, PS LIGHTWAVE Consultant

To HTTP or to HTTPS

No need to debate this age-old question any longer, the evidence out there definitely says you should use HTTPS on all your websites, even if they don’t handle sensitive communications. Not only is HTTPS becoming a requirement for many of the new web browsers and progressive web apps, it provides security and data integrity for both your websites and your users' personal information.

The Long Journey

When a user visits your website, they use a browser that then sends a request to your web server. The browser software is probably safe on their side, and you (hopefully) have secured your web server. So all things look good, right? But just like in the old west, the danger the Pony Express faced were the open fields between. That’s right, there are open fields that your website data goes across to get to the visitor’s browser, and that is where HTTPS comes into help save the day and prevent outlaws from stealing your data. These outlaws come in many variations, like illegal hackers, and even legal companies that inject ads into pages on their journey to the browser.

team swen wulfBy Jennifer Henderson, Communications Manager

Swen Wulf joined PS Lightwave as Network Architect and Security Manager in 2014 after working for Phonoscope Enterprises Group as Network Security Manager since 2002. With over 20 years in the IT world, Swen has extensive experience and knowledge of IP networks. Having worked at Solid Systems and Network Oil, Swen knows both sides of the Information Technology relationship and has a personal understanding how important it is that the customers’ servers are running and their network is secure.

He finds interest in the open source software scene. “The concept of many different skilled programmers working together on a project to improve software is amazing. There is so much talent out there.” The network world is full of specialization, and Mr. Wulf has a good all-around understanding of it. He can troubleshoot a Linux box having an issue one day, and a packet loss on a private Ethernet circuit the next.

robert switchBy Robert Jacobs, Network Architect Director

During the recent presidential inauguration, heavy demand was placed on the PS LIGHTWAVE IP network. Customers were streaming video and audio and data from tablets, phones, laptops, desktops and IPTV devices across our market. January 20, 2017 was also the best day ever. It was proof that our engineering and our concepts worked. We delivered twice the amount of traffic over a three-hour period. There were no network issues and no problems for our customers. The Switched Layer 2 network routed all traffic beautifully. 

Switched Layer 2: How it Works

Today’s modern Layer 2 switched network architecture, sometimes referred to as metro Ethernet or an Internet Protocol (IP) network, combines Carrier Ethernet and switches in ringed configurations, offering greater throughput, lower latency and less maintenance than a legacy network design. In an IP network, the bigger the pipe, the greater the capacity. Traffic chooses its own routing path, which reduces delays. 

John Lambert

PS LIGHTWAVE is pleased to announce that John Lambert, former Vice President of Technical Operations for enTouch Systems, has joined the PS LIGHTWAVE management team as the new Vice President of Operations. Former VP of Operations, David Caddle, was promoted to the position of Chief Revenue Officer, where he will be responsible for all revenue generation processes at PS LIGHTWAVE.

Mr. Lambert brings 26 years of experience in business development, financial performance and staff productivity to his new role with PS LIGHTWAVE. During his previous tenure with enTouch Systems and Grande Communications, Mr. Lambert launched successful network upgrades and gained expertise in capital approval processes, customer retention and satisfaction, new product launches, higher market penetration rates and increases in reoccurring monthly revenue and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA).  

PS LIGHTWAVE staff caught up with Mr. Lambert recently to discuss his career in telecommunications.

How did your career create value in your life? How has it shaped who you are?

I started in this industry 26 years ago as an installation technician. The value of hard work and dedication, with its constant emphasis on providing superior customer satisfaction and service, has enabled me to grow my career to where it is today. Starting from the frontline and moving up through the ranks of business has allowed me to experience success on many levels, as well as opportunities to be mentored by many along the way. The insights these experiences have brought me professionally and personally are priceless.

Password TipsBy Swen Wulf, Network Architect and Security Manager

Password security as a topic comes up from time to time. The most important thing you need to know about password security is to use complex passwords. Typically, people create a complex password, but then the same password is used on multiple sites. The problem with this is that if your account on Website A is compromised and you used the same email and password on Website B, you are going to be exposed and busy for a while changing passwords everywhere.

Today, most websites require a password with upper and lower case letters, symbols and numbers. They also have length requirements. I use a trick that has been effective in avoiding the reusing of a password, so if a hacker gets access to one of your accounts, you have to only worry about that account and not all of your online accounts.