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Wireless Internet Through Radio?

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by KR6SSY, Aug 24, 2008.

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  1. KR6SSY

    KR6SSY Ham Member QRZ Page

    My name is Krissy. My fiance, Hayden and I live at the 2,100' level with a 360 degree view of everything in Rainbow CA, North San Diego County. Atop our mountain, we are limited to dial up internet or satellite, as are all of our neighbors. While visiting a garage sale of a fellow HAM yesterday, we noticed that he gets his fast wireless internet, WISP, through an antenna/microwave and then also provides it to about 5 of his neighbors thus getting his for free. I am interested in finding out more about this technology and utilizing our mountaintop for business. Can anyone point me in the correct direction?
    Thank you!
    73 and 88

    Krissy and Hayden

    KR6SSY and KG6YVD
  2. N6OSB

    N6OSB Ham Member QRZ Page

    You can get internet over amateur radio freqs. I believe our local repeater is setup with D-Star. And I can get DSL speed wireless internet only if I had a D-Star radio.

    I also know we are primary users on some wifi frequencies. So you could use a wifi set to the right channel and receive/transmit/repeat wifi signals as a primary freq user.

    I don't know all the details, maybe someone can fill in the gaps for me.
  3. K8ERV

    K8ERV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Some ISPs provide a connection via a microwave link. My neighbor has this, very fast. Check with your ISP.

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
  4. W6CD

    W6CD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would not use ham radio as there are various commercial and/or more common good ways to get Internet connectivity wirelessly to remote areas.

    - Sattelite connection via HughesNet
    - If service is available where you are, a 3G broadband connection (put a 3G card in a WiFi router, availabe from Kyroceria, Digi, others)
    - A wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP), if available in your area
    - A point to point radio link (to another site with Internet connectivity)

    You can distribute the Internet connectivity to your neighbors - specifics depend upon distances, coverage needed, number of users, etc. - via a WiFi distributed WDS or WiFi meshed system. Note that your Internet service provider may have restrictions on distributing or reselling their service - but may be open to negotiations.

    For a business and larger coverage areas you are then looking to become a WISP yourself - lots of options here as well via WiMAX or other technologies for distributing to your customers, and either a wired or wireless backhaul to your base station.

    Last edited: Aug 24, 2008
  5. K7MH

    K7MH Ham Member QRZ Page

    "May have restrictions"???
    None of them are going to allow anyone reselling their services and are going to view it all as theft of services unless you have a contract that specifically allows it like motels and such do. Not to mention that unless you really know what you are doing you are more open to hackers.
  6. N5RFX

    N5RFX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Some Questions

    What did the fellow ham have to say? How does the HAM's WISP feel about reselling their service? Doesn't your Sprint Air Card work at home?

    Mark N5RFX
  7. K7JEM

    K7JEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    What you need to do is contact a local WISP that wants to locate a cell at your location. If you have 4 or 5 people already to sign up, and you have a good location, they will probably want to do it (assuming it doesn't overlap too much with their coverage). Trade them the location for your internet service, or more.

  8. W5HTW

    W5HTW Ham Member QRZ Page

    When did ham radio become an internet service?

    Is this a new rule the FCC has put out that we have missed? Is amateur radio now an ISP? Can it be used as an ISP connection, and its services sold to subscribers?

    Inquiring minds need to know this.
  9. AD7N

    AD7N Ham Member QRZ Page

    Krissy and Hayden,

    With a mountain top and 360 degree view, WiFi is a very viable option for you. The secret to long-distance WiFi is not only having good equipment, but excellent line-of-sight views. You've got that, all you need now is proper equipment and setup. Here's a couple suggestions to help you on your way:

    1) Locate a Wi-Fi provider somewhere's in line-of-sight range. Or, find anyone within direct line of sight view that is willing to share internet with you (and has DSL, cable, etc). A great way to get people to help you is by offering to pay half their internet bill. They get compensation for your usage, and you get faster service. Win-Win!
    Distance really isn't the issue, as it can be covered by high-gain antennas and sensitive equipment. Line-of-Sight is absolutely critical.

    1)Wi-Fi cards/routers: Don't skimp on quality. Most run-of-the-mill wifi cards have poor receivers, and are fairly deaf. If you don't skimp on the card, and go for the best with a very sensitive receiver, you will be much better off in the long run. A high quality card can add 10-15db of sensitivity over crap cards, and for long-haul WiFi every dB is needed.
    Don't be afraid to splurge, and make sure to do your homework before you buy.

    2)Antennas: The higher the gain you can get the better. Beware of phony gain numbers, and steer clear of the cheap promises. Do some real research and find designs that have experimental data behind them. The web is FULL of wifi designs and antennas for sale, and many have reviews that will give you real-world performance specifications. In general, dish designs will give you more gain for your money than yagis. Other options include Corner reflectors and horns.

    3)Feed line: This is probably the most critical point of the whole system. Skimp on feed line, and you'll pay dearly. The way to save money on feedline is to put the Wi-Fi card as close to the antenna as possible, and then run a cable from the wifi card down to the computer. If you're using your roof, put a computer or router in the attic directly below the antenna to minimize feed-line loss. Then just run Ethernet cable down to your PCs. Minimizing the space between antenna and wifi card/router will save you tons of $$$ in specialty coax. For the runs that you do, use Andrews Heliax and you can't go wrong (LMR-400 will also work if you're doing less than 5-10ft). For short runs you'll be able to get by with less than $30 in feed line. Do NOT use RG-8, RG-58, RG-213 or anything similar. Their losses are simply too great at 2.4Ghz, and the higher-quality coax is well worth the investment.

    Sharing internet with neighbors is a common practice in rural areas, and frankly as long as you're just splitting the costs with the person you're sharing it with, you should be fine.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2008
  10. AD7N

    AD7N Ham Member QRZ Page

    Also, since you're looking to be a distributor for your neighbors, it would be best to find someone with a very fast setup to link up with.

    If you can find someone with a fast line (as in FIOS) or a dedicated line, you'll give your neighbors better speeds for their investment. Your neighbors would probably be willing to pay extra money to help share a dedicated high-speed line. Lets say have access to a 15mbit business line you've got connected to your Wi-Fi feed, and it costs $200 a month for you to use it. If you have 5 neighbors willing to chip in and pay for it, they will get massive improvement over their current options for $40/mo.

    Depending on how far your neighbors (I'll assume they're much closer than the internet source), they can use cheaper wifi cards and antennas than your backbone link, as there isn't as much path-loss.

    Good luck, and let us know what you decide to do!
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2008
  11. KD8EYF

    KD8EYF Ham Member QRZ Page

    i though it was illegal to access the internet wireless via amature radio frequences, also any encrypted connections (https,ssh) would be illegal for sure right?
  12. KA8NCR

    KA8NCR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think you're right about minimizing coax runs, my thought is about a foot or less. If you need a longer run, it makes no sense to try to do it with coax, especially trying to make this work with a laptop card.

    A better solution is to create an ethernet bridge using equipment outside that connects to the 2.4 or 5.8 GHz WISP or point-to-point link, and bring it inside the house and plug it into a local network. There are plenty of designs on the internet using Linksys WRT54 series routers tied to high-gain yagi and parabolic antennas for the purpose of wifi. Or, you can go visit Hutton's web site and look at commercial gear, all of which pretty much do the same thing in that the transceivers are located with the antennas and ethernet cable bridges the networks inside the building.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2008
  13. N5RMA

    N5RMA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Radio Frequencies

    The original poster did not indicate a desire nor even mention using amateur
    frequencies for this purpose. The question was pretty generic as to frequency.
    And yes you can connect to the internet via radio frequency. I am doing it riht now, and I would guess a large percentage of us on qrz do so.
  14. KD8EYF

    KD8EYF Ham Member QRZ Page

    i did not say you cannot connect to the internet via radio, eveyone does via 802.11.
    the 1st reply states its possible using dstar and repeaters to access the internet. that is what i am questioning. whatever technology the op witnessed, prob was not ham radio stuff.

    i just stumbled on this. interesting, 'hinternet' not internet... sounds cool.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2008
  15. AI4IJ

    AI4IJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    It is my understanding, from a local attorney member of the Atlanta Radio Club, that amateurs are permitted to use wifi channels 1 through 6 for wireless internet, as governed by Part 97 of the rules, rather than Part 15 of the rules. In application, what that means is:

    1 - We can modify or build our own equipment for use on those frequencies, including the use of amplifiers and high gain antennas.

    2 - We can use standard wifi networks for amateur radio purposes, provided we meet FCC regulations for Iding the station (broadcasting the callsign as the SSID is sufficient for this purpose) and we do not employ encryption techniques to obscure the meaning of any transmission.

    But, based on the OP's stated intentions of engaging in a commercial enterprise, my guess is that they would have to operate under Part 15 rules, with all the limits that entails.

  16. AG3Y

    AG3Y Ham Member QRZ Page

    It may be time for you to "think outside the box". I used to work at a TV transmitter site that was located on top of a mountain at the edge of a fairly large urban area ( Hagerstown, MD ) . The Chief Eng had lived in that area all his life, and said that his greatest regret was that he hadn't bought all the land on top of that mountain, and charged rent to those interests that started erecting towers at that location.

    How close to an urban area are you? How much property do you have? Have any interests come lurking around considering that mountain for such things as P.S. towers, Cell towers, etc. etc. ?

    You could be sitting on a gold mine.

    My advice, rent out a chunk of space to a provider, and let THEM do all the work!

    JMHO 73, 88 , Jim
  17. N3OCQ

    N3OCQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I was nearly driven to do something similar at one point, though luckily the cable company came through before I executed my plan.

    There have been a number of cooperatives set up to buy bulk rate Internet connectivity and resell it to neighborhoods, etc. basically setting up a small ISP. is one of the oldest and most famous, they use their own equipment to provide DSL to a community that Quest refused to wire.

    I would say that if this is worth doing, it's worth doing right. Set up a 501.c, order real high-speed access (T-1 or similar) from a reputable ISP, and then distribute (via 802.11, DSL, strings and cans, whatever) to the neighbors. Make sure that you have agreements with the neighbors who are sharing the cost, and your use of the upstream connection is "legal." Avoid pointing a directional 802.11 antenna at your brother's house in the city and "sharing" his cable-modem access.

    Good luck!

  18. WA0LYK

    WA0LYK Ham Member QRZ Page

    You must also be aware of "pecuniary interest" problems when using amateur radio (think selling on ebay or running a web based business). I'm sure the fcc would probably also frown upon passing pornographic material, etc.

    Also some of the other implementations I have seen would run afoul of the amateur to amateur intercommunication limitation. Technically, both ends of this kind of link need to be amateur stations. It would be a violation of part 97 to run your end under your amateur license, i.e. high power, big antenna, etc. and connect to a part 15 private wifi or commercial wisp, isp, wimax, etc. vendor.

  19. AI4IJ

    AI4IJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Can you cite the part of the rules that lead you to that conclusion? I'm not seeing it.

  20. WA0LYK

    WA0LYK Ham Member QRZ Page

    97.3(a)(4) Amateur service. A radiocommunication service for the
    purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical
    investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, duly authorized
    persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim
    and without pecuniary interest.

    97.111 Authorized transmissions.
    (a) An amateur station may transmit the following types of two-way communications:
    (1) Transmissions necessary to exchange messages with
    other stations in the amateur service, except those in any
    country whose administration has given notice that it objects to such
    communications. The FCC will issue public notices of current
    arrangements for international communications;

    97.113 Prohibited transmissions.
    (a)(5) Communications, on a regular basis, which could reasonably be
    furnished alternatively through other radio services.

    Also note:

    97.111(a)(2) Transmissions necessary to exchange messages
    with a station in another FCC-regulated service while providing
    emergency communications;

    only authorizes amateur stations to communicate with a station in another service, i.e. Part 15 while providing emergency communications. Unless, my logic is somehow flawed, the converse of that is that amateurs ARE NOT authorized to communicate with stations in another service when NOT providing emergency communications.

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