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
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