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Discussion Starter #1
New Rural Internet Project

Background;

There is no cable/dsl or other reasonable internet service where I live so my current connectivity comes over a point to point network and I pay a fairly high connection rate (10$/month per megabit) and have a fairly low cap. The situation started to get worse as some of the local wireless providers are consolidating which of course means less competition and that will only lead to higher prices so... a few months ago we decided to take matters into our own hands and installed our first point to point RF network connection as a proof of concept for a rural internet project. The towers are approximately 6 miles apart and really only served to establish connectivity and prove to ourselves that we could figure everything out. The connection has been rock solid ever since we installed it including through several storms. The network tests out well, typically hitting speeds of 200+Mb/s sustained. With the proof in our back pocket so to speak we set about surveying the local terrain and planning for our own rural internet project. A couple of days ago we started installing the first major antenna tower for this project. It started with a road, two holes, and some frozen ground. The road had to be cut through the woods, the first hole was in my wallet, the other in the ground, and of course all the ground is frozen harder than.. well, harder than...

The project;

Install a network comprised of point to point (ptp) and point to multi-point (PTMP) dishes connected over non-licensed spectrum (none required). The goal is two-fold. One is to provide a few of the rural kids with equal quality access to the internet, comparable to their friends in the city. Two, is to build a network for shared services such as security, gaming for the kids, etc so the properties aren't quite so isolated.

Digging the first hole

Digging Foundation.jpg

The foundation is 66x66x48 (inches), that 122^3 feet

The 1025 worked as a pack mule, hauling wood, tools, and refreshments to the site in the woods.
(yeah, I know, ugly but hey, it worked)

Pack Mule.jpg

We framed up the hole and used the 1025 to haul the cement down the freshly cut road. What started as frozen ground a few days ago during the dig and cutting the road turned into a slimy covering of mud over frozen ground by the time we started hauling concrete as the temperature was rising throughout the day. The 1025 was dancing, literally sliding on the thin layer of thawed mud on top of the frozen ground. wheeeee!

Loading concrete..

Loading Mud.jpg

For anyone who cares to try this, the 48" bucket can handle a full load no issue, just be careful as it tends to slosh around

Haulin Mud.jpg

Filling the hole

Dumpin Mud 2.jpg

121 cubic feet doesn't sound like a lot, it was 25 round trips with the tractor between the truck and the hole. That's 25 trips I didn't have to make with a wheelbarrow (which would have been more like 50-60 trips) more importantly it was 18000 pounds or 9 tons that I didn't have to schlep by hand. The little tractor did really well.

Placing the antenna base


First Stage.jpg


Made a foam cap for the concrete so it could stay warm while it set. I checked the temperature and it was right at 55 degrees so it was doing okay, the foam cap is there as more insurance.

Foam Cap.jpg


Then made a plastic cover to keep the heat in and the frost out.


Plastic Sheets.jpg

Next Steps;

The tower will be 66+' tall when completed. This will allow it to have full visibility above the neighboring trees and to the land across the little valley. When complete, this will be the core of connectivity for several properties which average 5-10 miles away from this antenna. The current proof of concept setup is rock solid at 6 miles and I can 'see' other radios on the same spectrum out about 15 miles away but too low level in signal to be of concern.


Once we have the main tower built then we go back into town to build out the source dish. The source dish will be on top of a commercial property who has been kind enough to let us use their roof space. The local internet provider has agreed to provide us with bandwidth up to 350Mb/s but it is unlikely we will get that full bandwidth given the equipment we are using but we will get close, probably in the 220Mb/s plus range. We could go much faster but the costs start to go up dramatically.


There were a few questions in the 'what did you do with your scut..' thread so I have copied the posting here and will answer any questions that may come up in this thread.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Equipment

The equipment can be broken down into four categories;

Antenna towers
Radio and dishes
Network gear
Computers

The antenna towers are all used. I watched the local online sites and there were at least 1 new one every week, sometimes more. We ended up with one 66' tower, and two of 45'. For free.

The radios and dishes are from a company called Ubiquiti . The specific ones we are using are called the Powerbeam 5AC ISO Gen 2. We are also using the non-iso model which means no radome cover and slightly less noise immunity but since we are rural, competing noise from other wifi is not an issue.

Pricing for the dish/radio and cable can be found at UBNt.com

The network gear is also all UBNT but from the Unifi line. The software that it comes with is very good, free, and stable.

On the computer side, we have several boxes that are shared. One is running Squid which is a caching proxy server. It keeps local copies of often used content so that it does not need to be redownloaded. The second one is a video camera server. It stores all the video feeds and is kept locked up. The third is a cloud server which runs the overall network configuration. Basically all of the radios and all of the network switches talk to the cloud server for their config. This was free software that comes from Ubiquiti as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Network Service

We do have wireless network providers in our area including the big phone and cable operators but none of them could do what we wanted. We either got high priced cellular access, slow as molasses satellite access, or high priced wireless (RF) access. All of them came with what amounts to unrealistic data caps in my opinion and only one guy could get us speeds greater than 15Mb/s. My profession requires a lot of internet access (I rely on it) and while I don't need gig fiber, I do need faster than what was typically available to me. I started calling around and found one of the bandwidth resellers who would allow me to have my own connection at a commercial building in town who in turn provided me with roof access for the primary dish. The local internet provider is charging me residential rates for basically unlimited data at speeds up to 350Mb/s. Everyone on the network will be paying this provider but going through our own infrastructure. That still works out to be about half the price of going with the local wireless provider.
 

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Nice project! Would like to see the end result. :munch:
 

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My company set up a similar system to feed our multiple homes in town. The homes are seeing about the same results. We are only covering about 2 miles. While it was about $450 a house. The houses now pay nothing for the feed from the main office.
 

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Awesome project! As a software developer I love tech projects and if you can combine a tractor and a tech project that’s heaven! Super awesome design and good equipment too. We are stuck on 6mb dsl which gets the job done when I need to remote in but that’s about it. Spectrum is laying lines for our house next year though so that’s positive. Good luck sir and know I’ll be following along.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

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Put this AifFiber 24 link up last Saturday



This is the other end on a 100’ RSL, the AirFiber24 is the primary link and 5ghz air fiber is the failover, primary link is 1.5gbps failover is 370mbps.

I will tell you that Lite Beams ACs are solid CPE (client) radios, get some good RACs 5ghz and RF Elements twist port horns.

Let me know if you need help planning.

I’m using the following frequencies
3.65 LTE
900mhz
2.4ghz
5.8ghz
24ghz



- bucket teeth
 

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Man, you guys are awesome.

I have a similar situation here. 7 homes on my stretch of road, all with no access to high speed internet other than cellular, satellite, or, assuming you have line of sight to one of their towers, point to point wireless thats not fast, but has no data caps.
At times, I do need a good connection. I can get by with the point to point, but as the kids get older, they have more school projects requiring the use of the internet, along with their own free time goofing around, and Id need 2-3 connections to keep up.
One of the issues around here is that about half the homes are older folks who dont use the internet as much as younger folks do. They watch satellite tv, or antenna, and dont stream much, so even if I could figure out the logistics of all of what has been done in this thread, Im not sure Id get anyone but me to benefit from it.
Although at almost $100 a month for the best speed I can get, which MIGHT hit 25mbps sometimes, I might be happier paying for it! :laugh:

I would be interested to know how you found out who to contact for the internet access to feed your network though, just in case I feel like adding project #678 to the list.

Ill say too that Im pretty impressed with the fact that you are doing all of that with your 1025!
 

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My company provides a fiber fed solution for rural DSL. Our primary work in this arena is with CenturyLink and about 95% of it is from CAF money.

We're just about wrapped up with our 2018 work here in CO, but we have some holdover work due to infrastructure builds being delayed. Our projects for 2019 are mainly in the central part of the US for the most part. Should be interesting.

Unfortunately where I live there is only 1.5Mbps service from CTL. I ended up with a local LTE carrier for my provider. 20Mbps, but I know they can do better, just a matter of tower traffic.

Good stuff Earthling!:thumbup1gif:
 

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The equipment can be broken down into four categories;

Antenna towers
Radio and dishes
Network gear
Computers

The antenna towers are all used. I watched the local online sites and there were at least 1 new one every week, sometimes more. We ended up with one 66' tower, and two of 45'. For free.

The radios and dishes are from a company called Ubiquiti . The specific ones we are using are called the Powerbeam 5AC ISO Gen 2. We are also using the non-iso model which means no radome cover and slightly less noise immunity but since we are rural, competing noise from other wifi is not an issue.

Pricing for the dish/radio and cable can be found at UBNt.com

The network gear is also all UBNT but from the Unifi line. The software that it comes with is very good, free, and stable.

On the computer side, we have several boxes that are shared. One is running Squid which is a caching proxy server. It keeps local copies of often used content so that it does not need to be redownloaded. The second one is a video camera server. It stores all the video feeds and is kept locked up. The third is a cloud server which runs the overall network configuration. Basically all of the radios and all of the network switches talk to the cloud server for their config. This was free software that comes from Ubiquiti as well.
I’ve been thinking about your project and think there may be a better more economical solution for the p2p between your tower and the upstream provider. I’d like to know what the distance is. For example, if it less than 1500 meters. you can get a 2Gbps p2p set from Mikrotik for $300.

MikroTik Routers and Wireless - Products: Wireless Wire Dish
 

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Discussion Starter #14


Put this AifFiber 24 link up last Saturday



This is the other end on a 100’ RSL, the AirFiber24 is the primary link and 5ghz air fiber is the failover, primary link is 1.5gbps failover is 370mbps.

I will tell you that Lite Beams ACs are solid CPE (client) radios, get some good RACs 5ghz and RF Elements twist port horns.

Let me know if you need help planning.

I’m using the following frequencies
3.65 LTE
900mhz
2.4ghz
5.8ghz
24ghz



- bucket teeth

What did it cost to get shared access to that tower? If I could get access to the existing towers I would use Airfiber and double my speeds. The commercial building I am hanging off of has 'issues' with the airfiber, mostly to do with the size. Since they are giving me access I don't want to push my luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I’ve been thinking about your project and think there may be a better more economical solution for the p2p between your tower and the upstream provider. I’d like to know what the distance is. For example, if it less than 1500 meters. you can get a 2Gbps p2p set from Mikrotik for $300.

MikroTik Routers and Wireless - Products: Wireless Wire Dish
The upstream provider is ~8Km away. Direct LOS, no obstructions once I get to the top of our main tower. One of the main criteria in going all ubnt was the management software. Its pretty nice but also stops just short on some key features...

I would consider other products for sure. That horn looks pretty interesting. One of the families is about 15km away, they are on flat ground surrounded by 65' tall pines. We are trying to figure out how to get to them without putting up a 70' tower on their property. One thought was to link some 900mhz gear and thread the gap between the forested properties in several hops but that will have to wait until the weather gets a lot warmer.
 

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What did it cost to get shared access to that tower? If I could get access to the existing towers I would use Airfiber and double my speeds. The commercial building I am hanging off of has 'issues' with the airfiber, mostly to do with the size. Since they are giving me access I don't want to push my luck.
Wisp tower leases are generally $100-$200 per month. Be creative, look for existing grain elevators and other structures. For budget towers we buy 40’ - 50’ telephone poles from the utility company and have another contractor with a Derrick rigger truck set them, a new pole and labor are generally $800


- bucket teeth
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Man, you guys are awesome.

I have a similar situation here. 7 homes on my stretch of road, all with no access to high speed internet other than cellular, satellite, or, assuming you have line of sight to one of their towers, point to point wireless thats not fast, but has no data caps.
At times, I do need a good connection. I can get by with the point to point, but as the kids get older, they have more school projects requiring the use of the internet, along with their own free time goofing around, and Id need 2-3 connections to keep up.
One of the issues around here is that about half the homes are older folks who dont use the internet as much as younger folks do. They watch satellite tv, or antenna, and dont stream much, so even if I could figure out the logistics of all of what has been done in this thread, Im not sure Id get anyone but me to benefit from it.
Although at almost $100 a month for the best speed I can get, which MIGHT hit 25mbps sometimes, I might be happier paying for it! :laugh:

I would be interested to know how you found out who to contact for the internet access to feed your network though, just in case I feel like adding project #678 to the list.

Ill say too that Im pretty impressed with the fact that you are doing all of that with your 1025!
The short answer is I can be a bit persistent. I just started dialing, and got lucky. I started by just calling everyone and asking for the network planning department, when I could get past the script readers I would end up talking to someone who was at minimum interested in the project. Most of them are real tech-heads who want to hear more but most of them are also powerless to help. To make a long story short, I convinced one of them that they were not responsible for my part of the network, they would not even be electrically connected (fiber from demark to switch) so they basically had no liability. Once they got past the risk they got very interested in the project and started offering advice. From the providers perspective, they have a bunch of terminal equipment co-located in a commercial building and they send out bills to individuals who happen to share one physical address but separate billing addresses. The 1025 rocks. It got a nice bath and a lube job for Christmas. There are times I wish it was a bit bigger (PTO output, etc) but overall, very pleased.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Wisp tower leases are generally $100-$200 per month. Be creative, look for existing grain elevators and other structures. For budget towers we buy 40’ - 50’ telephone poles from the utility company and have another contractor with a Derrick rigger truck set them, a new pole and labor are generally $800


- bucket teeth
I have been quoted upwards of 2500/month for tower access, maybe I have to make a few more calls. I have been all over the grain elevators but so far have not had much luck. Great thought about the telephone poles, I will look into that for future installs. So far the towers are basically free around here if we are patient (someone always wanting one removed) and so far they have been in excellent condition.
 

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The upstream provider is ~8Km away. Direct LOS, no obstructions once I get to the top of our main tower. One of the main criteria in going all ubnt was the management software. Its pretty nice but also stops just short on some key features...

I would consider other products for sure. That horn looks pretty interesting. One of the families is about 15km away, they are on flat ground surrounded by 65' tall pines. We are trying to figure out how to get to them without putting up a 70' tower on their property. One thought was to link some 900mhz gear and thread the gap between the forested properties in several hops but that will have to wait until the weather gets a lot warmer.
For the upstream p2p you’ll want to stay with 5ghz, My suggestion is the Rocket 5AC, RF Elements ultra dishes and twistport adapter. APs use the 30deg ad 90deg horns. Use pbe400s or lite beams at customer sites. Only use Rockets on the tower so you can GPS sync. You’ll learn about side lobes and interference more as you get into this and thank me later. And keep in mind one bad connection trashes a ptmp link you could have oversubscribed 7:1, learn to say no or find another way.

900mhz is good for about 1-2 miles max. Not great for co-location. The 15km shot would need to be relayed from site to site by the sounds of it. When you relay, bounce from 2.4ghz to 5ghz, 5ghz to 2.4ghz or 5ghz to 900mhz. Don’t bounce in the same frequency. Use the UBNT nanostations as the relay passthru.

Cheapest and best cat5e cable and ends can be found at Netonix.

Hope that helps get you rolling.




- bucket teeth
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
For the upstream p2p you’ll want to stay with 5ghz, My suggestion is the Rocket 5AC, RF Elements ultra dishes and twistport adapter. APs use the 30deg ad 90deg horns. Use pbe400s or lite beams at customer sites. Only use Rockets on the tower so you can GPS sync. You’ll learn about side lobes and interference more as you get into this and thank me later. And keep in mind one bad connection trashes a ptmp link you could have oversubscribed 7:1, learn to say no or find another way.

900mhz is good for about 1-2 miles max. Not great for co-location. The 15km shot would need to be relayed from site to site by the sounds of it. When you relay, bounce from 2.4ghz to 5ghz, 5ghz to 2.4ghz or 5ghz to 900mhz. Don’t bounce in the same frequency. Use the UBNT nanostations as the relay passthru.

Cheapest and best cat5e cable and ends can be found at Netonix.

Hope that helps get you rolling.




- bucket teeth
That's fantastic information, thanks for that. I thought the powerbeams were essentially upgraded rocket gear? I was looking at the Airfiber 5XHD for the main link but will try the power beams first.

I have the nanoswitch on the towers just for future updates, is that what you meant for passthru? I will look the RF Elements gear as I know nothing about that. Thanks
 
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