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Newbei67

@67.231.122.x

community wireless network

Hello, I read this thread »Want To Setup A Wifi Network In My Neighborhood I have a similar interest but not over 12 miles to cover, the area is one mile. Here is the map »urbaninnovation21.org/homewood-g···ion-map/

My questions are: Do the same financial constraints apply in terms of start-up costs and operating budget? Would legal exposure be reduced by having each user purchase or rent a company supplied wifi access adapter? What are some key words to search for potential consultants?

The goal is to supply Internet access in a low income neighborhood at a very, very low cost, less than $10 per month. Is that even feasible? Thank you for your time.



clarknova

join:2010-02-23
Grande Prairie, AB
kudos:7
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL

said by Newbei67 :

The goal is to supply Internet access in a low income neighborhood at a very, very low cost, less than $10 per month. Is that even feasible? Thank you for your time.

That question is unanswerable based on the information that you provided, but I will say that it is doable given a certain set of conditions.

1. You don't hire a consultant. Consultants are great, but your budget doesn't allow for it.

2. You are extremely clever and innovative, or have such people working with you on the project and have a stake in it (ie, you don't have to cut them a check the day you go live. That would make them a consultant. See #1). If you purchase the 'industry standard' equipment for this job, you will be in too deep of a hole. If you buy consumer-oriented gear, your network will implode. If you go about this with a bit of research and a hacker mentality, you can find some very good solutions at a very reasonable price. It's the only way you'll make this work.

3. You have access to reasonably cheap internet. This is really just an extension of #2 above. I'm fortunate in my area that there is a DSL provider offering bondable 6/1 service with no caps. Compare that to the 'industry standard' symmetrical fiber at $100/Mbps*month. One is doable inside your budget, the other is not (unless you're going to limit your users to roughly dial-up speeds).

4. You have access to reasonably cheap labour. Installs, maintenance and operation take time. Time isn't free. No, not even yours.

5. You have access to the grant money on the page you linked. Networks need hardware. Customers need hardware to connect to your network. Good hardware doesn't have to be expensive (see #2), but it certainly isn't free. Even at $200 per customer (a very conservative hardware estimate), if you're only charging $10/month for service, it will take you a minimum of 20 months to recover that cost, assuming you don't charge for an install. Seed money helps you get past this limitation and grow your install base before the subscription money starts rolling in.

I know this model can work because I use it. I started selling wireless internet in my community with less than $2000 investment. I sell 10/1 Mbps for $30/month and no install fee. The business pays for itself and I have never gone into debt. My greatest limitation, as mentioned above, is that each install requires a hardware and time investment on my part, effectively limiting the number of installs I can do per month without taking on debt. Multi-dwelling installs provide a bit of leverage, as multiple units can be serviced from a single set of hardware.

You're looking at a lot of work and very little profit, depending on how cheaply you can get your internet. If you look at it as a business, don't. There are plenty of other things you can do to get a much better return on your investment.

If you're looking at it as a hobby, or a service to your neighbourhood, then you might be able to make it work. Did I mention that it will be a lot of work?
--
db


John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:8

1 edit
reply to Newbei67

I took a closer look at the community you are attempting to service. It seems like there are some opportunities there...if managed correctly.

Besides the obvious, what is your primary motivation in doing this project? The reason I ask is that there are a number of different ways to proceed. Are you in it for "the profit", or as a "civic project", or what? There is no particular right answer here...just need to determine what your objectives are.
--
Nothing makes an American want to do something more than telling them they can't.



Newbei67

@67.231.122.x
reply to clarknova

Thank you for the thoughtful response. It is a civic project, goal to provide access for education and cultural purposes as well improving daily life. I think I can find the engineers to help me put it together. Ideally the project should break even so we don't have to depend on grants to make things work. All your points are well taken.

The area is about 1 to 1.5 miles square. I would like to train local youth on how to do the upkeep and installs, so they can learn and maybe earn a little bit.

By posting I want to learn enough that I can talk to engineers about the concept. In terms of providers we have cable from xfinity and fios, I have to check and see what business packages costs are.



Newbei67

@67.231.122.x
reply to John Galt

The goal is civic, provide access to education, culture and improve daily life by providing low cost internet access. Ideally set up as youth social enterprise where by young people can learn about wireless technology and maybe find a path to a tech career.

Serve one square mile and about 4,000 households over time.

If we can make it self-sustaining then we would not need to depend on grants as much. There may be grants available for start-up, but need to be thoughtful as to how to get going with little dollars to make the best use of funds.

I am not a techie but when I was young an older friend showed me how to use computers and it always has helped me in advancing my life, so I want to pass that opportunity on. Thank you for your reply.



John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:8

1 recommendation

reply to Newbei67

OK...thanks for the clarification.

There are a couple of things to consider. One of those is access to bandwidth. I am going to presume that you have access to whatever you need in that capacity. We can have -that- actual discussion later, but for now, let's presume you can get what you need.

There are many things to consider, so I will give you the "big picture" on how I would proceed. I'm going to paint with a pretty broad bush here...you can adjust accordingly.

You are going to need to have the cooperation of the owners of the "vertical real estate" in that area. Fortunately, most of those folks might be sympathetic to your cause. For example, the Homewood Early Childhood School has some vertical real estate that is good.

I see by looking in your area that there are a number of tall buildings. One of those is the Pittsburgh Student Achievement Center. I am going to presume that you can get the bandwidth you need from them...just for this example.

At that location, you install a 5 GHz radio that transmits to other more local nodes, one of those being located at the Homewood Early Childhood School. At that node, it beams out a 2.4 GHz signal to those in the neighborhood that want to receive it.

Now, how your potential subscribers receive that signal is in their hands. They might have a smartphone that can take advantage of the wifi signal, or they might need to purchase a low-cost ($55) adapter to receive the signal at their house

Let's stop at this point and look at what we have...

You are providing the backbone to a system that serves many people. At this point you can do that since your one system can provide service to about 120 people (two nodes with three channels with 20 connected people per channel). Your cost at this point is small, since you are only providing the main radios to service the many connected subscribers.

If you have to add the cost of providing all of their radios, your capital expenditures escalate rapidly. The "sweet spot" is to prove the backbone, and let the user pay for their own network connection device. In this example, there is a "buy-in" cost of ~$55 to get the connection device, and the subsequent monthly charges ($10 in your case) to subscribe to the service.

The upside is that most new phones already have that capability, so your subscriber has no additional costs if they are using that device.

There also needs to be a billing and accounting system of some type. There are low-cost standalone devices that take care of all of that. This is something that needs to be done, even if there is "no charge" for the service. Network management practices demand it.

So, here's what we've got so far...

The Internet connection comes into the Pittsburgh Student Achievement Center, where it is routed to the roof, and beamed out to other radios listening in the 5 GHz band. One of those radios is at the Homewood Early Childhood School, where it receives the signal from PSAC and relays it on to the 2.4 GHz channels for local distribution (say 300 max feet from that location).

If you add more 5 GHz nodes, you can add more subscribers. Cost per node is one 5 GHz radio at $100, a switch at $70, and three 2.4 GHz radios at $80 each...$410 plus bits and pieces equals $500 per node, if things are good (they look like they are, based on the sat photos on GE). The billing controller is $300 (and you DO need it) but that is also a one-time cost and you only need one of them.

There is the issue of the upstream bandwidth costs, as previously mentioned, so that needs to be taken into account at some point. You might be able to get it "donated".

In my view, this project could be done...it needs a 'sharper pencil' put to it, but generally speaking, the numbers are reasonably good, given your particular objectives.
--
Nothing makes an American want to do something more than telling them they can't.



Anav
Sarcastic Llama? Naw, Just Acerbic
Premium
join:2001-07-16
Dartmouth, NS
kudos:5

Awesome Post John!!



Newbei67

@67.231.122.x
reply to John Galt

Thank you for taking the time to think about this project. That is exactly the type of information that I was looking for. Now I have something to discuss with our entrepreneur youth group so they can consider the idea. If they are into it your info is a very good start for them to start with to put a proposal together for the business competition. Much appreciated!



Newbei67

@67.231.122.x
reply to John Galt

I checked broadband Internet access, it looks like Verizon Fios is available at the Pittsburgh Student Achievement Center, what package should we aim for? This is the highest at $130 a month Speeds up to 300 Mbps/65 Mbps. Is that how we should be thinking about it?



clarknova

join:2010-02-23
Grande Prairie, AB
kudos:7
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL

Of course situations vary, but on the networks I'm familiar with (mix of mostly home users with some businesses), a good rule of thumb is 10-30x overprovisioning. In other words, if you have 1000 customers with a 10 Mbps connection each, then your minimum bandwidth need is calculated as:

1000*10/30=333

So you will probably need at least 333 Mbps of pipe to provide for peak usage in that scenario.
--
db



John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:8
reply to Newbei67

said by Newbei67 :

I checked broadband Internet access, it looks like Verizon Fios is available at the Pittsburgh Student Achievement Center, what package should we aim for? This is the highest at $130 a month Speeds up to 300 Mbps/65 Mbps. Is that how we should be thinking about it?

Presuming Verizon allows you to use it as you intend to in this project, that would work.
--
Nothing makes an American want to do something more than telling them they can't.



John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:8
reply to Newbei67

Click for full size
I would set up the main node at PSAC and beam out to the three locations shown. Those buildings are tall, and occupied. They house agencies/organizations/businesses that would probably be sympathetic to your efforts.

Each of those nodes has a 5 GHz radio for the backhaul to PSAC, and two 2.4 GHz radios (Ch. 1 & 11). There is also another 5 GHz radio to retransmit to devices like this:

»www.antennas.com/split-marc/

These would allow anyone who wanted to host a node at their location to do so. These are easy to set up. The cost is relatively low:

»www.doubleradius.com/Products/Fu···M-5.html

I strongly recommend the use of TDMA-enabled devices for the 5 GHz band....non-TDMA on the 2.4 GHz band for user access.
--
Nothing makes an American want to do something more than telling them they can't.



Newbei67

@comcast.net
reply to John Galt

Yes, it will be interesting to see what Verizon thinks about it. I plan to encourage the youth to build some high power social capital in case they should need some convincing. Also interesting in the context of the FCC's idea of a public wireless network.



Newbei67

@comcast.net
reply to John Galt

John, Thank you so much! I plan to project on screen our forum discussion tomorrow at our youth entrepreneurs meeting. I let you know how they react. I truly appreciate your time.



John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:8
reply to Newbei67

Click for full size
A drawing showing the basic setup at PSAC...

Insofar as there would be a lot of bandwidth available, I changed the setup a bit to accommodate the higher speeds.

Now it is point-to-point to each of the nodes, rather than point-to-multipoint.


John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:8
reply to Newbei67

Click for full size
This is basically what the nodes look like...

The 5GHz local AP broadcasts to these devices:

»www.antennas.com/split-marc/
--
Nothing makes an American want to do something more than telling them they can't.



Newbei67

@67.231.122.x

So I presented to the Youth Group we are working with. All I can say is that they were speechless. It was hard for them believe they can make something like a wireless network happen. I felt a little disappointed by their lack of feedback. I have to remind myself that what I am suggesting may seem impossible to youth. I will meet with them again next Weds, hopefully we will get into a more detailed discussion with them then. Thank you for your help.



Newbei67

@67.231.122.x
reply to John Galt

Click for full size
downloadCompU Homewood.pdf 409,716 bytes
The business model
The business model I proposed see attached PDF.
Best wishes! and Thanks.


jap
Premium
join:2003-08-10
038xx
reply to Newbei67

Newbei,

Not sure what age of youth you refer to - only skimmed the thread. But see if this Town of Tamworth fixed wireless network "build blog" might be a useful tool to inspire members of the group or at least add context to what's involved.

Tamworth got tired of waiting for a commercial ISP solution so took instruction from what neighboring Sandwich (my old stomping grounds) did 8 years prior: bought a fiber line from Fairpoint and built their own.

»www.tamwireless.net/category/build-blog/

Have you looked into mesh network architectures? More conceptually complex but has robustness and scaling benefits suited for more densely populated environments.

G'luck!



John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:8

said by jap:

Have you looked into mesh network architectures? More conceptually complex but has robustness and scaling benefits suited for more densely populated environments.

Just to continue the discussion...

Mesh is also more costly than a PtMP and PtP POP. The densities needed are in the 40-60 nodes per square mile, and they need to be three radio nodes (2 radios on 5 GHZ and 1 on 2.4 GHz) to achieve any real speed to the end user.

For the OP I'd suggesting investing in an old laptop and running something like this on it:

»www.metageek.net/products/inssider/

I picked up an old Dell Inspiron 1000 for $80. The free InSSIDer program runs fine on it. This program really makes it easy to understand what is happening in the RF world around you.

Another thing to get is this:

»www.ubnt.com/airview

This is another way of looking at the RF in realtime. You can them at Streakwave for $39.

»www.streakwave.com/Itemdesc.asp?ic=Airview2

Another thing to consider is the UBNT Loco M2 for $49 as it has the AirView functionality built in, and is also a functioning CPE device.

I think that those three things together would spark some interest in your group. It would be necessary to do a RF survey in the proposed served area to determine the pre-existing RF conditions. That is a good project for the group, too.
--
Nothing makes an American want to do something more than telling them they can't.