Define a wifi/internet solution that can penetrate thick concrete walls in a remote location with relatively low internet connection speeds

I am having difficulty maintaining a consistent internet connection with too many black spots around the property.

The current setup is as follows:

1st floor: WIFI Router (DSL) with wired connected to WIFI extender (plugged into power outlet) which sends signal to second floor. One other WIFI extender on 1st floor to improve wifi coverage. All are bare bones TP-Link products

2nd floor: Wifi Extender to receive signal from first floor and two other wifi extenders.

Each floor is roughly 100sq.m or 1000 sq ft. Each floor is a separate unit. The walls within each unit and the exterior walls are very, very thick concrete.

On the second floor especially I only get a clear signal from the WIFI extender near the main entrance whose purpose is to get the internet connection from the first floor. This signal serves only one room, the main entrance. The rest of the unit has so many black spots and connection stoppages even within a few feet of the extenders.

Outside I don't even have a signal within one foot of the entrances. This occurs on the first floor as well.

Question: I am looking for products/solutions that cost under 400$ total that will give me a clear signal in each room on both floors and give me an outside signal within say 10 meters of the entrances on each floor., despite the buildings heavy concrete walls and remote location. My internet connection is roughly 15 mpbs down and 1 up.

For an additional cost I wanted something that I could use outside to give me an internet connection with 200m of the exterior of the building. currently my outside wifi signal is roughly 100m, but I have no internet connection past 20m.

Any suggestions as to what i need to get what I want done would be great.
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KarlSenior Technical ConsultantCommented:
I had good results using Ruckus Zoneflex point in my house and did an install for a farmhouse with 3 foot thick walls and foil backed plasterboards.  As they have BeamForm antennas they adapt to give the best signal possible once connected.

I used the 7363 at home but there are lots of used ruckus points available and the older ones on ebay are more than adequate for home use.

I am sure that occasionally Zoneflex controllers come up cheap as well so you could have multiple access points properly meshed with internal and external points all 2nd hand off ebay
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Also try powerline connections to provide Ethernet from router to another (central) location in your building. Then use an access point such as Ubiquiti to provide Wireless at the other location. I use Ubiquiti to service my upstairs rooms.
MLV CMCommented:
Your budget is very small for your expectations.  Use ubiquiti unifi with multiple units inside and outside with a wired Ethernet drop to each unit.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
That is what I am doing. Ethernet over the house powerlines will help you connect.
adimit19Author Commented:
John: Thx for your response. I currently have ethernet over house power lines and it is not working very well. Inconsistent comms and too many black spots. When you specify power line connections is there a specific make and model you had in mind?

Karl: Thx for your response. How many zoneflex points did you require? 1 per floor, 1 per room etc..  Were they easy to connect to your ISP router?

MLV CM: Thx for your response but too many wires are not an option in my building. I have to run them all outside. I can't run them from the inside
I'd recommend using Ruckus ZoneFlex units as well if you want to accomplish with as few access points as possible. I designed a solution to replace a bunch of outdated Cisco units at a hotel leveraging them after proving to my then employer that UniFi would not work without running a LOT of cabling, which wasn't an option. Normally, Ruckus products require a controller. However, check out the Ruckus Unleashed products (this assumes you go with some of the more recent products)like the R310). That will let you basically use an AP as a controller. Also lets you save considerable on the licensing costs that normally exist. However, I would guess you only needing 1 per floor (mainly depending on if the walls kill too much signal). 1000 sq ft isn't a real challenge in terms of actual area. Start with 2, and work from there. How are you planning to power the APs: PoE or with AC adapters?

However, you also have not mentioned what type of wiring exists presently. I know you cited that using powerline products didn't work well for you, but have you considered making use of MoCA (assuming you have coaxial cable already in the building)?
adimit19Author Commented:
Masnrock: thank you for your answer. Where I live there is no moca    where I live because TV comes from satellite only and no fiber. Power will come from AP. I am considering a basic wired ethernet connection as well
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
A combination might work well. Ethernet in some locations ; wireless access points where it makes sense
Do not bother with "wifi extenders", instead use either Ethernet or PowerLine Ethernet as a "backbone".

Powerline works much better on the same circuit, if the connection bwtween the two outlets goes via a distribution board, I would suggest using fuses instead of circuit breakers.

Rather than looking at higher powered access points, with a reinforced concrete structure you migth be better off with an access point per room and reducing the power in each access point to the minimum.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Yes more or less as said above. But once Ethernet is in place, Ubiquiti Access Point (not a range extender) puts full strength wireless where you need it.
Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
I sense that there may still be a disconnect regarding how this can be done.
In principle:
You can solve the problem by running Ethernet cable to each room of course - but that seems not possible.  I'd call this "wired".
You cannot solve the problem with but a single (or but few) WiFi sources per floor. I'd call this "centralized WiFi".  
The latter is what sounds like has been tried and doesn't work.  
So, if you must have WiFi for some reason then it will have to be distributed perhaps even on a "per-room" basis.
The question is "how?".

Notwithstanding the good advice that you've received, if the rooms are effectively RF shielded, then just RF "equipment" isn't going to be able to help.  Not that some things aren't better than others but when you rely on RF then ... well ....  And, if you have really thick concrete walls then you also probably have steel reinforced concrete which only makes RF attenuation worse.

Using powerline extenders could be a very viable solution but don't expect just one per floor to do anything special.  One per room (with or without WiFi at the end) may be the solution.  The idea is to wire to the rooms and "radiate" from those end points.  Just because a single powerline extender with WiFi doesn't work for a whole floor, doesn't mean that it won't work if there are more end point devices.

Doesn't the prison system frown on distributing WiFi to all the cells?  :-)
adimit19Author Commented:
Fred Marshall: Thx for your response. My powerline equipment needs replacing every year for some reason. I have 3 powerline extenders per floor but even when I am 5 feet away from the extender my signal is weak. Apparently there is some interference in the wiring somewhere. Maybe wires aren't shielded properly, perhaps being a vacation rental there are too many appliances. Don't know what the reason is.

I am beginning to think that the one solution which I dismissed (cabling) might be the only viable solution. I used to install this kind of stuff in manufacturing plants/distribution centres and realized there that wired was the only way to go (with some wifi). However in a plant I can run cable through the ceiling. Something I can't do on my property.

I thank everyone for their suggestions As a result of all suggestions my plan is as follows:
1. First Floor to Second Floor Wired connection from the outside originating from Router.
2. Second Floor: Wired Connection from the outside from front of house (where connection to router is) to the back of the property. Interior walls are also thick concrete roughly 8 inches thick. Powerlines to other rooms that appear to have more stable wiring or at least wiring that doesn't connect to home appliances.
3. Outside: Fiber running 250 feet from the front of building to a safe spot on the property. Wifi at that location. The property is roughly 500 feet long and I want WIFI with strong internet access on the whole property. So I need a router with a fiber port. There goes my budget but I can do that next year.
4. Everything is low speed DSL. I live on an island with nothing but sharks and dolphins for about 100 miles separating me from civilization.

Powerline products keep flaking out and I can't get a wifi signal through the walls so I have no choice unless there is some super powerline product out there that can withstand almost every electric abnormality thrown at it including lightning. Haven't found that product yet though. Any recommendations?
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
powerline equipment needs replacing every year for some reason.
 Interior walls are also thick concrete roughly 8 inches thick.

Given your description (thank you), powerline Ethernet is probably then only practical base way to do things. Whose Powerline products do you use?  TP-Link and NetGear both make decent products.  

I live on an island …..   unless there is some super powerline product out there that can withstand almost every electric abnormality thrown at it including lightning.

Does it make sense to have a small UPS / Surge protector at the two basic points where you need to use Powerline adapters.
Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
I'm afraid that the filtering / battery+inverter functions of a UPS will preclude the powerline adapters from communicating into the power lines.
That's one of the things that trades off when there's flaky power.  But they are cheap and some power companies or insurance companies may cover even those things.
One might pre-configure one each as the backup plan.
adimit19Author Commented:
I use both tp link and net gear powerline products. Ironically it was my cheap local brand of powerline adapter that lasted the longest (3 years) before burning out. I have to replace my tp link and net gear powerline adapters every 9 months, usually after a thunderstorm. I can't place these products on a surge protector.
Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
With the other considerations, you may well just have to live with the occasional damage to the powerline adapters.
Being on an island, I'd likely keep spares on had that have been configured and tested in service - then powered down and stored away.
There are some fairly inexpensive switches that have SFP ports, and SFPs are also fairly inexpensive these days.

Fibre has the advantage of not being affected by electromagnetic noise, and is completely electrically isolated, so there are no issues if different "areas" are on different electrical phases.
adimit19Author Commented:
I combined pretty much everyone's solution. I am purchasing a WIFI router with extended signal strength (i.e more antennas) and placing it in a line of sight location (e.g a hallway) where the signal can go further without being interrupted, and where the signal only has to penetrate a wooden door. In rooms where my powerline extenders are useless, I will connect an ethernet wire from the outside (unless of course the main wifi signal is strong enough to penetrate the wooden door in this room). In the rooms where powerline products do the job and the main wifi signal is weak, I will place these products.

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