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Resources and notes for wireless networking. Because:
  • I'm at least 22,000 feet from my central telephone office, DSL is not an option,
  • my cable company offers only one way cable modems in my area, and
  • the latency and cost of satelite do not appeal to me,
I have some thoughts of trying to set up a wireless ISP in my neigborhood and share a T1 (with things like a caching proxy server to minimize load on the T1 (with luck)).

My target would be to get access for myself for free (or even make some money), and charge say not more than $30/month to my neighbors, after amortizing the equipment. (In other words, each neighbor would "contribute" $30 a month to the $700 to $1000 a month cost of the T1 (of course, unless we can do better).)

I'd look for legal protection against acquiring debt for myself or liability for piracy, porn or whatever -- either by appropriate contracts with each neigbor which involve continued payments with forfeiture of service if they break any laws, or a corporate shield.

Anyway, this page is to start gathering the information I need.

See AboutThesePages.

Contents

Notes

There are a series of standards for wireless, including:

  • 802.11b -- 2.4 GHz, 11 Channels (but the recommendation is to use channels separated by at least 5 numbers to avoid interference -- ahh, but I bet with directional antennas I could possibly use all 11 channels, for example, 1, 6, and 11 in one direction, 2 and 7 in another direction, and so on), speeds up to 11 Mb/s (but which vary (automatically (?) based on distance (i.e., signal strength)),
  • 802.11g -- 2.4 GHz, ? Channels, speeds up to 54 Mb/s -- presumably many similarities to above Corrected -- originally I thought 802.11g was 5 GHz but it's not, 802.11a is 5 GHz.
  • 802.11a -- 5 GHz

The FCC allows signals up to 1 watt, most off the shelf equipment seems to transmit ~30 mw, some up to 100 mw. They are unlicensed services, so there is some sense in which they have less priority than any other signal (I think that means if you cause interference with a licensed "higher priority" service, it's your problem, not theirs)

Several clients can work off one WAP (Wired Access Point (originally I thought this stood for Wireless Access Point -- my mistake), presumably sharing the throughput. (Likewise can share one antenna.)

An antenna can help the range significantly, and in many cases is only needed at the WAP end (presumably because it not only shapes the outgoing signal to increase the signal output in a certain geometric area, but it also strengthens (sp?) the incoming signal. (Easy to imagine for a parabolic antenna, but all antennas that shape the outgoing signal also react more strongly to incoming signals in that same geographic area (IIUC).)

There are wireless routers, bridges, amplifiers, other.

Resources

See ResourceRecommendations. Feel free to add additional resources to these lists, but please follow the guidelines on ResourceRecommendations including ResourceRecommendations#Guidelines_for_Rating_Resources.

Recommended

  • (rhk) The Rookery: Selecting Wireless Networking; July 18, 2002; Phil Hughes -- compares 802.11 a, b, and g (quite helpful) and touches on a few other wireless approaches. (At one point he makes some points based on the assumption that only two radios are on the network -- I don't understand why he makes that assumption.)

If you follow these next two links, you'll find many more:

Recommended for Specific Needs

  • (rhk) Why Wi-Fi doesn't always work; Daniel Miller; January 22, 2003 -- problems with WEP (Wireless Encryption Protocol), the promise of WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access), a mention of Cisco's LEAP (Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol)
  • OpenAP -- Linux software to run on a few WirelessAPs to allow more control.
  • Using a Unix computer as a 802.11 wireless base station -- with a pointer to another article for more details
  • Prism II Access Point Mini-Howto; Robert Rose -- (aka "The $40 802.11 Access Point") (N.B.: Does not wrap to the width of my screen.)
  • WAP11 Bridge; viewed 7 Feb 2003 -- "This page describes my efforts to connect two homes in Santa Clara, CA using Linksys WAP11 Access Points in bridge mode. The houses are relatively close together - about 400 meters. As far as bridging goes, this is a small distance from what I've read, but it's longer than what the WAP11 is technically capable with it's stock antennas."

Antennas

  • (rhk) Slashdot thread on O'Reilly's Antenna Shootout; February 16, 2002 --
  • (rhk) How to Become An Antenna Guru; viewed 12 Dec 2002 -- unfinished article, haven't read but sounds promising -- by an antenna designer with 25 years of experience -- expect lots of practical advice and knowledge --
  • DTV Antennas and Your Legal Rights; Roy Trumbull -- within certain limits, the FCC has preempted local and homeowner's association laws which might prevent you from installing an antenna -- if there is a local law or homeowner's rule you must petition the FCC to overturn it, and you must do that before erecting the antenna (because, in general, the FCC won't interfere with an existing "violation" or court case) -- the local or homeowner's association may have a right to say where the antenna is located given more than one suitable location.

Measuring Signal Strength

WLAN Expert is a wireless client utility designed to work with the PRISM chipset by Intersil. The Linksys WPC11 is the only client card I've tested, although many manufacturers use this silicon. Intersil counts Alcatel, Cisco, Compaq, Nokia, Nortel, Samsung and Siemens among its OEMs.

The main screen offers signal strength, errors, interference (all in dBm) as well as channel, SSID and speed indicators:

Laws (or the FCC) and e.g., Interference

Long Range

Some people have achieved point to point links of 1 to 10 km:

Recommended by Others

No Recommendation

  • (rhk) Debian Link-sys WPC11 Mini-HOWTO; Gerardo Arnaez; Revision 1.1.3 2002-06-09 -- "This is a Cookbook on how to set up a Wireless Link-Sys WPC11 card using a Link-SYS Wireless Access Point/DSL/Switch on a Debian system."

from SearchSecurity.com; 23 Apr 2003 — all the following on the same site — why did I waste my time?

Not Recommended

  • (rhk) [[][]] --

Potential Suppliers

  • SuperPass; viewed 7 Feb 2003 -- antennas and other equipment -- sort of OK, but:
    • no summary overview (with brief description) of their products to lead you to picking out equipment that might be of interest
    • quite a few of their products are "coming soon" rather than available now
    • their AP's look interesting -- some of them, at least, look like they might be designed for outdoor mounting on a roof with an attached directional antenna (but there is no verbage to this effect, IIRC)
    • their AP's (in particular) are not priced even though they are apparently available now (hmm, maybe they're free?)
    • their AP's are all listed as compatible with Windows, not Linux -- that's too bad -- I wonder what keeps them from being Linux compatible?

  • EnGenius; viewed 7 Feb 2007; -- a bargain, maybe a close out: "Wireless Solution Provider introduces the Wireless LAN Access Point & Broadband Router - Simple Mobility has both the function of an Access Point & Broadband Router. The Access Point also include unique futures as follow:"

  • Cisco
  • D-Link

  • Linksys

T1 Suppliers

  • looked up some satellite providers, Mozilla crashed before recording them -- some had more restrictive policies on sharing than I liked, IIRC, $100 to $120 / month or more to get something I could share

We allow you do what most others don't.

  • Connect multiple computers, even using Wi-Fi
  • Telecommute using VPN
  • Run servers or create home networks (Static IP-No PPPoE)


Contributors

  • () RandyKramer - 29 Jun 2002
  • <If you edit this page: add your name here; move this to the next line; and include your comment marker (initials), if you have created one, in parenthesis before your WikiName.>

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Topic revision: r18 - 2003-04-23 - RandyKramer
 
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