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Posted on 2004-04-16
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Ok, I'm lazy, and don't want to look up the info myself, so I'm hoping that some of you have enough experience to provide some insight for me.

What I want to do:

I want to provide wireless internet access to my community.

Community setup:
Greater population is in two areas, downtown, and an area called 5 mile. (Located 7 miles from the downtown area.... go figure)

I want to cover an area as large as possible, and provide "high speed" internet access. I believe this can be accomplished with WiFi technology.

So, questions are:
What hardware should I use to get the strongest (and furthest) signal?
What kind of costs should I expect?
Any people with experience, please provide ideas, warnings, thoughts, etc.

One last item, because 5-mile is so far away from the downtown area, I was anticipating putting another hub, station, whatever you want to call it, in that area.

:o)

Bartender_1
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Question by:Bartender_1
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by:caffeineshark
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WISP providers (Wireless ISP) are becoming more popular, in places like where I live, where you can't get cable 'net, I am on a WISP that provides over 1mb upload and download speeds.  WISP will be hot because growth is far exceeding the cable companies ability to install lines.  DSL just isn't fast enough for some of us.

Franchising from these local providers should cost less than $30,000, and should include your own antenna on tower, hardware for 25 customers, and install knowledge transfer.  (Yes, I've looked into doing this).

Your local WISP providers are the ones to go to for local ordinances, rules, where you can install, etc.  

Here's a site I've read some on, gives a lot of knowledge about starting your own: http://www.bbwexchange.com/turnkey/
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by:khyer123
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by:Callandor
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Here's an article about the realistic range of 802.11b and factors that affect range: http://www.practicallynetworked.com/support/wireless_range_probs.htm
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by:mlynch24
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How large a customer base are you reaching for? What will be the top bandwidth you will offer? If you have a WISP in your area I got news for you, they will not give you the downtown area period!! Population and business densities make that territory the money maker. I was part of a small CLEC start up that offered wireless service to a small city with a population of under 55000 and their wireless costs for a basic installation (servers, software, router to POP, FCC permits, three T-3 lines for bandwidth and five towers to create an approximate 14-17 mile reliable umbrella for a projected 4500 customer base) ran over 100k for one time costs and recurring charges, excluding operational labor charges, to cover the first four months of operations. They never made it. By month five they had about 1900 customers, problems with verizon, problems with the FCC, and their actions sparked verizon to expand their DSL using aDSL. I just have to think that franchising leaves you too vulnerable to cost increases and bandwidth expansion expansion cramp, no control over service, and under cutting once you have a established profitable numbers. If you watch how they operate with cell service you can pick up clues. They let independents establish the customer base during their ramp up to separate themselves from the initial bad service calls. Then oh about four to 12 months later they open the corporate store which is usually in the highest traffic location and start selling packages the independents can't touch. ETC, etc, etc until the independent is gone and most likely never even reached the break even point. I guess my point rests on developing an aggressive business plan and avoid the casual approach.
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by:Bartender_1
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Hmmmm.... perhaps a bit more background will assist here.

My "Downtown" entails an area you could drive around within 10 minutes.
Total population of the town (including 5-mile) is 450.... people..... including kids. ~LOL~
The only (and I mean ONLY) ISP here was setup by me almost 5 years ago.
The fastest connection available is 33.6 through dialup. DSL (in any form) is not available. (5-mile gets 28.8 at best)
Cable is not available.
There are no competitors, there is no potential for competitors.
I am not looking for something that will work for thousands, or even hundreds of clients. I'd be surprised if I managed to hit 100 clients.

Currently, I get high speed through a satellite link which I would use to provide high speed to the community.
(before you all say it, I know that satellite is not high speed like DSL is, but compared to 33.6 dialup, it's smokin'. ~LOL~)

:o)

Bartender_1
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by:_
_ earned 35 total points
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I can't help with info, but I am sending you all the good luck and best wishes I can scrape together.    : )
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by:RLGSC
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Bartender_1,

I won't claim detailed first hand knowledge, not having done this myself, but some suggestions.

There are some very good books available on what I shall call "high end wireless", and related things (many books on wireless are along the lines of plugging in simple stuff you buy at CompUSA, and are not useful for your situation). A particular book that I recall is entitled "Wireless Hacks" and (I think) is published by O'Reilly.

A couple of thoughts, however:

- You will want to position your antenna(s) at the highest point that you have access to (with a town as small as you describe, you may actually get a reasonable amount of cooperation from the town authorities, with whom you are likely acquainted), with a clear line of sight to as many people as possible. Consider that you may need multiple sites with some form of wired/wireless backbone between the sites (remember that the narrower the coverage area, the greater the range of the radio unit--a narrow relay beam will be usable to a greater distance than a wire, omnidirectional access point antenna).
- Use radio units that transmit the highest power output allowed by the FCC regulations for the spectrum band that you are using. Check if there are special rules for lightly populated areas.
- Consider that you may need subscriber site units of a directional (external) antenna and an appropriate access point (one that can accept an external antenna out of the box). Figure a good way to install the external antenna in advance, and write up the procedure.

I hope that the above suggestions are helpful. It does sound like an interesting challenge.

- Bob (aka RLGSC)
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by:Timotheus1
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Well, I would suggest looking into the feasability of getting some kind of leased line, T3, or OC-x unless you can get better that 10 Megabit on the satellite link.

it all depends on the location of the satellite dish, and how you connect to the remote towers.

Each tower may need two transmitters, (one wide coverage area for users, one directional signal back to the site of the dish.
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by:thvon
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OK...

http://news.com.com/2100-1033-959924.html?tag=cd_mh

This appears to be what your looking for... check it out
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by:thvon
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http://www.proxim.com/solutions/lastmile/

This is proxims web site... looks like they will even set you up.. not sure though
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by:mlynch24
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Visit the FCC website and do a search on WAP regulations and rules. As long as you broadcast at 900mhz or 2.4ghz there are no licensing requirements, but I would check your county and local codes too just to play it safe. If your ISP will change your account to a commercial account and you sign a bandwidth reseller agreement, you could have a lot of fun. About two years ago I got a good deal on some Intel AP5000 access points and set eight of them up in a ring to cover a sprawling hospital and mental health center grounds. We ended up with very few dead spots (Xray, ORs, basements and a new metal sided admin bldg) and had solid signal saturation within a .5 mile radius.  You will have to use the 802.11b standard (2.4ghz) which only has a range of 75 to 150 feet. Different manufacturers have varying methods to chain them together so I would research which will be most convenient to you. Even though the 11b standard is not really all that secure, you can authorize users via their NIC MAC addresses to keep interlopers out. Even though there is the possibility of interference the newer APs have a better signal hopping strategy which keeps interference to a minimum.
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by:Timotheus1
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Spectrum usage is the sole jurisdiction of the FCC. Local municipalities do not enter into the picture at all.

There are FCC regulations on how strong the signal can be, but as long as you use "Off-the-shelf" components, you should be fine.
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by:mlynch24
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Timotheus1 is right, but antenna placement regulation/rules can be supplemented by local muni's and should be consulted.
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leematchett earned 80 total points
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I'm a Wireless ISP, lot's of first hand experience here..  oh man, where do I start?  Okay, first of all, if you are not able/willing to acquire at least  T1 of DIA (dedicated Internet Access) from an upstream provider, then your best bet is to forget the whole thing before you waste a lot of your own time and money.  Trying to share a satellite link is a no go.  With one customer, they would be upset with you about not being able to game, pages taking 10 seconds before they start to load, etc., but that would probably be somewhat managable.  With 10 customers, you would start to have major problems.  Shared end-user Internet access of any kind is not something you would want to try to share again to very many customers, if not because of all the limitations and unreliability, then because of the bandwidth limits all ISP's (especially satellite) have.  You would quickly exceed those limits, and find you were now trying to share dial-up modem speed with 10 customers!

So, if you accept my premise, then you need to do a business plan based on the expense you find for the T1 of dedicated bandwidth you find quotes on.  In a small area like yours, you might well be paying up to $1000 or more for this service, so are you willing to risk the months it might take to build your customer base to the point you are covering your costs?  If you, then you can progress to the point of analyzing the various WISP products out there.  There are lots of them.  Focus on CPE prices though, because most customers are not willing to pay $400 up front for equipment, and I doubt you are willing to cover the costs.  802.11b won't really work for a variety of reasons-- it simply isn't designed for that sort of thing.

The remote town area would require a point-to-point backbone to get your bandwidth to the tranceiver site, and then another access point and Omni antenna.  You need to site it such that all potential customers have clear Line of Site to the tranceiver or it isn't going to work.  If I were you, I'd try the local town first and prove it works prior to expanding.  Hope this helps-- main thing is to make the decision carefully before you jump in.
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Thank you much.    : )
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