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Johns Island, SC
Wireless Internet Noob Needs Help
Hi, I'm in Charleston, SC. I live in a mobile home in a rural area.
I want to do this:
Throw up an antenna, install a router (and card?), sign up with an ISP, and get wireless internet.
I know I have cell phone service here (or more accurately, in my yard), but how do I find a wireless ISP?
Can I install all the hardware, and then surf for an ISP?
I also need to know what kind of hardware (antenna, router, card?) to shop for, and where I should shop. Basically, I know nothing about this stuff, though I am otherwise computer savvy (I build all my own, fix my friends' etc.).
Gigabyte EP45-DS3L mobo (has a built-in 10/100 Ethernet, I think)
There are two different services you are referring to.
1. WISP is a fixed location ISP that usually operates in the 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands. To find out if one is in your area go to the WISP Association website at »wispa.cms.memberfuse.com/find-a-wisp.
A WISP will normally send a technician out to do a site survey to see if you can receive a good consistent signal. IF the technician determines that you can get a consistent good signal, they will then determine if you have a suitable location for the equipment needed that has the necessary electrical power access, structural strength, and protection from potential sources of signal interference. If EVERYTHING is available they can then proceed to install the necessary Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) to receive and transmit the signal, and make it usable to the customer. If everything is not available, they should tell you what areas are deficient. They might offer several ideas that either you or they can take to correct deficiencies.
2. Cellular internet service requires use of a modem device from a cellular company. A good place to learn is EVDO Tips and Tweaks at »evdotips.blogspot.com/. You can also get information at The 3G Store »3gstore.com/, Maximum Signal »www.maximumsignal.net/, WirelessNWiFi
»www.wirelessnwifi.com/, Millenicom »www.millenicom.com/, and WPS Antennas »www.wpsantennas.com/
Who do you have cellular service with? Go to the coverage map for your company and see if you have service in that area. For example I use a Verizon based Millenicom service. Before I signed up I went to the Verizon coverage map at »www.verizonwireless.com/wireless···ap.shtml. You type in your exact address and get a map of the service in you area. You have to click on the Data Coverage button and then click Refresh Map to get the proper map. If you are in the 3G coverage area, you could then sign up for 20GB/month at $60 from Millenicom, »www.millenicom.com/page/plans#advanced_plan.
Johns Island, SC
Thank you so much for your informative reply, really. Just what I needed.
Okay, so I checked Verizon's coverage and it looks like the whole area is blanketed in solid orange-red. Or it could just be my crappy dialup stalling. But let's stay positive.
You definitely make cellular internet sound a lot easier. I'll read those links you provided, but one quick question, is a modem all I'm going to need? I don't get voice or messaging in my house, at least not reliably. I have to step out into the yard. Something tells me I'm going to need an antenna, too. What kind of antenna do I get? And assuming I need an antenna and buy one, and a modem, is that all I'm going to need, in terms of hardware? Wait, NM, I see you thought of that, too. Missed the link the first time.
Thanks again. I might be back to ask more noob questions after I check out those links.
Johns Island, SC
I have this huge TV antenna on top of my house, with coax running from it to the inside. Can I use that with the Sierra 250u if I have the right adapter? That would be really great if I could, because it's a lot bigger than these 13" antennas I'm seeing and I could keep the 50 bucks+ I would've paid for a new antenna and cable all the way across my home (computer is at one side, antenna and best spot for reception is at the other side).
Is this what I need? It'll plug right up to good ole coaxial cable?
And do I need a router too? I don't think I can justify buying TWO $100+ doohickeys before I see my first Mb worth of data.
Sorry, but the television antenna is probably designed for 470MHz to 890MHz reception, UHF. The Sierra250U is a Sprint ONLY device. Your Sprint cellular towers could be operating in the GHz range. 1.850-1.990GHz Traditional PCS. According to EVDO Tips and Tweaks Sprint 3G is entirely 1900MHz. »evdotips.blogspot.com/2008/11/85···mhz.html. You will need to find out if your location is covered by Sprint and if the coverage is EVDO 3G, WiMax, or 4G LTE. »coverage.sprint.com/IMPACT.jsp?
Just for giggles and grins you could hook up your modem to the old television antenna. It might get you some signal improvement, but probably not enough. In addition to the external adapter you found, you will need a connector to adapt the FME cable end to the end fitting on you television antenna, which is probably a F connector. »www.wpsantennas.com/fmecoaxadapters.aspx
The usual advice given is to start out with a magnetic mount antenna tuned for the frequency band you need. You will need to mount it to a plain, not stainless, steel surface. There are special steel mounting plates you can buy. Some people use an old cast iron pan or scrap piece of plain steel. If you cannot get a reliable signal INDOORS that way, then the money spending starts. First you get a longer coaxial cable and mount the antenna outside the house. One guy got made a special very very thick rubber gasket and mounted the antenna out side the window. He ran the cable through a hole he punched in the gasket. The gasket went from left to right under the bottom of the window to keep the outside out. He attached a bracket to the wall just outside the window. He mounted a plain steel plate to the bracket. Solved signal problem. Material cost maybe $50. Hardest part was getting a weather tight fit on his handmade window gasket. Other guys just drill a hole through the entire wall and use sealant and paint to pretty it up.
If the above does not work, you can move to a large directional panel antenna, or get longer cable and mount the antenna higher up on the house. At some point you need a bidirectional amplifier similar to this »3gstore.com/product/156_wilson_3···201.html.
In order to get a dial up only user Millenicom service I had to install a parabolic directional antenna, an under eave antenna mount, a 36 inch vertical extension to the mount, a Channel Master antenna rotator, a Wilson Electronics bidirectional Direct Connection amplifier, 75ft of Low Loss CA-400 coaxial cable, 2 adapter cables, lightning protection, a Cradlepoint WiFi router, and an APC back up power supply. He lives about 5 miles from the nearest Verizon Tower in thick tall forest. $1000+ worth of gear to get him off of dial up. It works great. We started with just a small magnetic mount antenna, but it did not work. Went to a larger magnetic antenna and that did not work. Then did research and discovered we had to go all out in our situation. Trees, tall trees, trees with lots of leaves, and living in a valley make it tough to get a consistent signal.
You will need a WiFi router if you are attaching the modem to an external antenna and want internet access throughout your house. I use the Cradlepoint MBR95 »3gstore.com/product/3029_cradlep···r95.html, as most people want any upstairs or nearby outside areas covered in WiFi. If you have the money the MBR1400 is really nice »3gstore.com/product/3009_cradlep···400.html. The Cradlepoint CTR35 »3gstore.com/product/2736_cradlep···r35.html has less range and features but works well. I use one when I travel.
Johns Island, SC
Thanks again for the detailed response, David. I suppose I will try the standard package, and get a simple antenna designed for the system if it needs some help getting a signal. And if that doesn't work, I'll just send it all back. No way I'm spending a thousand bucks on hardware for this thing.
So I don't need a router, since I'm only hooking up one computer then. Good to know.
My whole area is completely saturated with 3g coverage from Sprint and Verizon, and that's just the two I know about. Sprint owns Boost Mobile, that's who I have my phone with. I can get 3 bars out in my yard, but not much of a connection inside. It's a wooded area and the open part of my yard is fairly small. The open part around my home is even smaller. Just a few small open spots in a forest, basically. It's not a valley though, everything's flat for miles around. And it's only quasi-rural, really. It's like 5 minutes from the burbs and 15 minutes from the urbs. Still horrible net choices though.
I guess I won't know what I'll get until I try.