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Wireless Networking Hardware

Temporary Wireless Service For An Outdoors Event? 213

SBECK writes "I've been asked to come up with an estimate of how much it would cost to provide wireless internet service for a small convention being held at a campground. That would entail renting or buying enough wireless access points to give coverage to the area and getting temporary satellite Internet service. Unfortunately, I've never done any of this, so I'm floundering. I'd love to get some pointers from anyone who has any experience setting up something like this. What ISP services provide temporary satellite service for something like this?"
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Temporary Wireless Service For An Outdoors Event?

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  • Electricity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vokbain ( 657712 ) * on Thursday May 20, 2004 @04:41AM (#9202220) Homepage
    The first thing you need to find out is if the campground has power available. If it doesn't, then the cost of this project will go way up.
    • I would be extremely surprised if it didn't have power available; all campgrounds will have power to at least a central point (e.g. campground office). Many/most will also be able to supply power to caravans and possibly even larger tents (never used that myself, as our two-person tent has to be small enough to carry on a bicycle.) The only places that I've camped which didn't have power somewhere were places that we shouldn't have been camping to begin with (field, side of road, picnic area, etc.)

      This is
      • No They Don't (Score:4, Insightful)

        by millahtime ( 710421 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @07:58AM (#9202650) Homepage Journal
        Not all camp grounds have electricity. Sure, the nice little parks with all the slotted out areas have them. But, there are many camping areas back in the woods that don't have power. And they are areas for camping. I know, I have gone there. I first went with the boy scouts as a kid.
        • Re:No They Don't (Score:2, Insightful)

          by JAgostoni ( 685117 )
          I would have to say that if this company is
          (a) having a large meeeting in an outdoor area
          (b) Has some sort of need for a wireless network
          (c) Plans on using computers for that wireless network ... then their faces would be jsut a little red if they made the mistake of choosing a campground that had no power. Not that I wouldn't put it past them, but hopefully they were smart enough to figure that one out
        • A company isn't going to hold a convention at a back-country campsite. This isn't a camping trip. This is a convention.
    • Around here you can rent a generator that will provide more than enough power for less than $50 a day.

      I've seen the output from a rental Honda generator on an oscilloscope and it's pretty clean too. I use two of these generators to power sound (about 3kW of amplifier output) and computer equipment for five hours on a parade float in the summer with no problems.

      Add a double-conversion UPS (probably you already have one in your office) between the generator and your equipment and that will let you refuel

    • Many of the AP's you can buy run off a 12-volt power adapter. So, hook it up to a typical deep-cycle lead acid battery (e.g. marine or golf cart) and it can run all day. Since its an outdoor setting, you won't even need the more expensive gel cells that UPSes use.

      Even quiet generators make some noise. Batteries make none.
  • Uplink? (Score:2, Informative)

    by wazlaf ( 681158 )
    Even for satellite providers, you will need some sort of uplink like an ISDN or analog line. Probably this is not available where you would like to have your net access.
    • Re:Uplink? (Score:3, Informative)

      by heydonms ( 734951 )
      not so atleast in Australia you can get two way satellite latency is terribly but throughput is supposed to be very good
    • Re:Uplink? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mycroft_VIII ( 572950 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @04:46AM (#9202236) Journal
      Not unless you are using older equipment. Newer equipment can uplink to the satalite as well as downlink from it.
      Bi-directional has been available for a few years now. Sheesh I get enough spam for it in my mailbox, some of it from my isp(earthlink) who also sends adds for dsl, which isn't available within my zip or and of the neighboring zips.

      • Re:Uplink? (Score:3, Informative)

        by jridley ( 9305 )
        Yes, and if you're using a bidirectional service, you need to factor in the cost of having the dish and transceiver professionally installed. Anybody who isn't blind or comatose can put in a receive-only satellite dish, but ones with uplink require much more precise installation. The FCC requires a licensed installer. Most "satellite installer" contractors are NOT qualified or licensed to install a bidirectional link.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 20, 2004 @05:28AM (#9202318)
      Even for satellite providers, you will need some sort of uplink like an ISDN or analog line

      Sorry, this is wrong. Check out DirecWay [direcway.com] for at least one provider for 2 way sat comms.
      • The DirecWay website you reference neglects to say how fast the upload/download speeds are. Everywhere it might say how fast the link is, it just says "Fast download" which I read as marketing-speak for "we're faster than dialup but not by much..."

        If the link isn't much faster than dialup, the guy trying to setup the link may find he has enough electricity to drive all his access points but the pipe to the sky is so skinny he may as well not have bothered.

    • sorry but I have directPC sattelite internet that uplinks via sattelite.

      you should look at the newer stuff, it's very different (but still has 3000ms latency minimum.)
      • Re:Uplink? (Score:4, Informative)

        by omahajim ( 723760 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @08:29AM (#9202769)
        you should look at the newer stuff, it's very different (but still has 3000ms latency minimum.)

        Try Starband for 700-800ms latency. Reasonably reliable IP service for an office of 8 users in very remote Colorado mountain country, although their call center blows chunks. I can even VNC (through SSH) to that office, it's slow but the link doesn't drop and it's useable.

        Karma and Foes, who cares.

  • by DamnYankee ( 18417 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @04:45AM (#9202232) Homepage

    I would recommend using cheap AP's designed for home use and a third party firmware that allows them to link up and form a mesh.

    The Linksys WRT54G is about $70 or less on Amazon and with third party firmware it can be linked into a mesh using something called WDS.

    You can also add PoE and larger antennas quite reasonably.

    See the Sveasoft site [sveasoft.com] for more information.

    • Ahh, if you're powering them over ethernet, you don't need a mesh! The advantage of having mesh firmware is that you can power them locally without a wired uplink.
    • We have a 7 node mesh with up to three deep on any single linear chain using WDS. It works great. Our longes link [sveasoft.com] is 6 kilometers through forest, islands, and over water.

    • I have no affiliation with either company but the netgear products I've used were far better in quality and functionality than linksys.

      The linksys WAP11s and WMP54g wireless PCI card were just plain terrible. Did not work as advertised. Doing WEP across two WAP11s in AP/Repeater mode causes instant lockup of the repeater. I spent an entire month on the phone with their Indian tech support until one of them finally admitted that it was a known problem that they've duplicated in their lab. Unfortunately afte
  • by taxevader ( 612422 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @04:46AM (#9202237)
    Get the WiFi cyclist to park his bike and shout him a few beers.

  • by funkytwig ( 780501 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @04:47AM (#9202238)
    you should check out psand(http://wireless.psand.net/) who have been doing this at various outside events and festivals in the UK using satelite to get conectivity. They are a very frendly bunch (I met one of them in Bristol, UK) and I am sure they would love to talk to you. I think they were involved with C4's Big Brother House Reality TV thing also. They even had a tricicly with wierless access. "To visit our general Internet and network services web site click here. Internet connectivity has become an integral addition to the majority of outdoor events, both as a service for public and professionals, and as an essential part of the event organisation. As many outdoor events take place in rural areas, establishing the set-up for Internet connectivity often requires installation of a cabled network, which can be both expensive and time-consuming. Psand.net specialises in satellite and wireless communication networks. As a fully self-contained mobile unit, we are able to arrive on site before or during your event, and establish a fast, reliable and cost-effective Internet connectivity network in a matter of hours, without the need for cabling or any other installations. In the summer of 2002, we provided Internet connectivity at a number of large-scale weekend festivals in the UK. Using our innovative technology, we provided an Internet café, as well as the facilities for media streaming and live radio broadcast to web."
  • Direcway (Score:4, Informative)

    by Pascal666 ( 514343 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @04:50AM (#9202246)
    Grab a DW6000 from Direcway. Bi-directional satellite (no analog or isdn uplink needed) and provides you and ethernet port. Put either a router on preferably a transparent proxy server on it and connect up your access points on the other side. Make sure you have an UPS for each access point in addition to the one for your server/satellite.

    • Re:Direcway (Score:5, Informative)

      by samurphy21 ( 193736 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:53AM (#9202468) Homepage
      Problem being that the DW6000 + Dish costs over $1000 cdn for the equipment, let alone the installation, which is not simply plopping a dish on the side of a barn like DTV woud be. The tuning of a DirectWay/Lincsat dish is extremely sensitive, especially for the uplink. Once the dish is properly aligned for +60% transmitter strength, the mere act of gently tightening the bolts often throws it +/- 5% out of wack.

      Lincsat is trying to get the DW4000 modems out the door, and is offering a deal of $499CDN with dish, free installation, and 'only' $49.95 for the first two months. After that, the price goes up to the regular $79.95/month for the remainder of the two year contract.
      • Lincsat is trying to get the DW4000 modems out the door, and is offering a deal of $499CDN with dish, free installation, and 'only' $49.95 for the first two months. After that, the price goes up to the regular $79.95/month for the remainder of the two year contract.

        Note, however, that the 4000 series ends in a USB cable, not an ethernet cable.

    • Re:Direcway (Score:5, Informative)

      by malchus842 ( 741252 ) <stephen@adamsemail.net> on Thursday May 20, 2004 @07:20AM (#9202544)

      This is not inexpensive to setup - the hardware isn't cheap (though you might find it on E-bay). BUT, the major issue is that in the US, you have to have a licensed installer because the DW6000 has a built-in uplink. Of course, if you know someone who has is licensed and is willing to do it, you can save there.

      And, having had quite a bit of experience with Direcway, if you have any kind of bad weather, you may have no connectivity. Rain is your enemy.

    • Re:Direcway (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, the biggest problem with direcway is the BS hourly cap they impose. You are only allowed 160M/hour with it using some crap 'emptying bucket' algorithm....basically as your download/upload, the transfer bucket 'fills', until you reach your cap. It 'drains' (allowing more download) as some bullcrap rate like 20kpbs, so you can get 1 good download and are pretty screwed for a while....
  • by blackwing0013 ( 680833 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @04:55AM (#9202257)
    Camp Area... Wireless Access... what you really need is this [ietf.org].
    • IPoB (IP over Bird?)

      anyway, back to thread topic:

      I have to think, of all the....


      I thought one of the attractions of doing remote camping was to get AWAY from technology for a few days?

      I do think the project is interesting, but it seems to defeat the point of the event. I think standard convention houses offer at least broadband, I can't say much for wireless.
    • What you really need is to get some guys proficient in Silbo [slashdot.org]. Use them to send messages back and forth and they can convert the messages into Ethernet messages.

      If you get people fast enough, you could even do teleconferencing over this link. Voice Over IP Over Voice (VOIPOV).

  • Sell your wireless (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mc_Anthony ( 181237 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @04:59AM (#9202261)
    Here in Pasadena, many people who live the in the homes surrounding the Rose Bowl will sell your wireless connections during an event that are easily available near the parking lots. The connections go anywhere from $100 to as low as $10 for an IP. It can be very handy!

    Personally, I use my cell/Palm-PDA to surf when I'm away from home/work. I love my Samsung i500!!!!
  • Ask Burning Man? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chalybeous ( 728116 ) <<ku.oc.oohay> <ta> <suoebylahc>> on Thursday May 20, 2004 @05:01AM (#9202266) Homepage Journal
    I don't know much about this kind of technology, but I know that there are similar setups going on at the Burning Man [burningman.com] festival every year. Maybe it's worth looking around the site to see if you can find anecdotes and contact info for people who've done the same.
    Also, the Mars Society [marssociety.org] uses satellite hookups to keep in touch with its field stations. Perhaps they can give you some pointers?

    Depending on where the event is held and how well cellphone signals can be received, you might also want to try a mobile phone carrier. A lot of the larger UK events like Glastonbury are, I believe, getting support in this area from larger telcos. It may be more complex, and will probably involve getting everyone a new PCMCIA card, but it could be an option.

    Sorry I couldn't be of more help; sadly IANA techie, but I hope these couple of snippets I've seen around the net are of use to you.
  • Line of sight? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Blastrogath ( 579992 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @05:02AM (#9202268)
    Have you thought of checking the hills in and around the campground to see if any of them have line of sight into a town?

    You may only need 2 directional antenas instead of a satilite uplink.
    • Re:Line of sight? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @05:15AM (#9202286)
      You may only need 2 directional antenas instead of a satilite uplink.

      Depending on whether this is a comercial project or not, one might be able to use the amature shortwave / longwave bands. It has it's limits, but it's not limited to line of site as with microwave.
      • Yeah, but I think the max speed you can get out of most equipment at those frequencies is something like 28.8kbps, maybe less. Also, I think you might run afoul of the FCC by letting a bunch of non-amateur operators use the frequencies unsupervised.
      • Re:Line of sight? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by BrianRaker ( 633638 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:40AM (#9202433) Homepage Journal
        Something like this would make me cringe with the possibility of running afoul with the FCC for using the wireless connection for commercial purposes... What if someone were to use the wireless connection to order something (food, pizza, amazon)? That's a commercial transaction, and that's verboten in FCC Part 97. Besides, with longwave and shortwave, you're not gonna get any better than 9600bps. Best off looking at bouncing the data off a bird in the sky (satellite).

        brian de kf4zwz

        • It's not just commercial transactions are out. Encryption on amature shortwave is a no-no, too. There goes SSH, https:, VPNs, etc..

          And 9600bps? <Shudder>

          Reminds me trying to get through MAE-East [mae.net], about 10 years ago. At times, it was SO congested that it was faster and less of a headache to use a 14.4 modem to dial into St. Louis (had to go far enough West to keep from being routed back through it) from DC and just skip that particular choke point. But I digress.

          No, leave the amature shortwave s

      • Re:Line of sight? (Score:4, Informative)

        by tiger99 ( 725715 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @08:28AM (#9202763)
        Don't know about regulations in the US, but in the UK we have some provision around 458MHz and a few other places, but the bandwidth is really only 9600, or maybe 19200. We also have bands around 1300MHz and IIRC 2400MHz, for video links etc, which could carry data, but the radiated power is limited because the band is shared with other things. You will not be able to extend a broadband thing like WiFi (or even worse, Bluetooth) very far directly , even with directional antennae, so you need the other options. There are mircowave links of the type used by telecom operators, most likely vastly too expensive for a one-off.

        Why not try negotiating with the site owner about having the system installed permanently, that way the costs can be recovered from users over a long time, so an expensive solution might become viable?

        If you can get an ADSL line to the site, it gets easier and you only need standard stuff, firewall, router, WiFi access points and so on. It would be best to have a caching proxy server, it can take a lot of load off the line as many people might be looking at the same sites. All of this is straightforward Linux/BSD/Windoze (if you really must) territory, the only thing difficult is the telecom infrastructure. Oh, and watch out for electrical safety regulations, there are lots of potential difficulties, and you reall do need to know your local regulations, and comply with them, or use low-voltage batteries for the lot.

        I would ask the local telecom provider how much a decently fast line would cost before messing with satellite systems. The people who supply networking, cable TV, or voice comms in that geographic area are the people who know. In the UK, which does not help you very much, BT can and will provide a voice line or lines (you could aggregate the bandwidth with multiple modems) anywhere, or an ISDN line in most places, ADSL gets slightly harder because of the distance limit. All this is at a cost, of course......

  • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @05:03AM (#9202272)
    for a small convention being held at a campground

    Use their Trekie Communicators.
  • more info please? (Score:5, Informative)

    by MoreDruid ( 584251 ) <moredruid@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday May 20, 2004 @05:10AM (#9202281) Homepage Journal
    Kind of hard to answer:
    • how big is the camping ground you are holding the event?
    • what speed would you like to give? AP's should be 802.11b/g compliant (more expensive) for compatibility
    try to team up with a provider of some sorts, and get some sponsored stuff. They provide the internet connectivity (and get free PR), you just deal with the local problem (in your case the WiFi stuff).

    I've organised a few LAN-parties (up to ~250 attendants) and providers are more than willing to help you out. Also talk to one of your local IT shops, they usually don't mind you using their stock for this kind of event for a small rental fee. As an example: for a LAN-party for 100 participants we paid about 200,-- in fees for the whole network infrastructure & server park. We got to use 3 3com superstack switches and 5 dual xeon servers. The internet router (cisco 2600 series) was provided by the ISP. We just hooked the stuff up & had a great party. The help provided by both the ISP & the IT-shop was tremendous. All the help we got was from volunteers of those companies... they only asked free entrance in the gaming contest in return. Oh, and some beers :).

    • by pe1chl ( 90186 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @05:16AM (#9202291)
      More info:

      - in which country is this event going to be held?
      - what infrastructure do you have available?

      going to satellite link should only be a last resort.
    • That was very good value for money! I live in the UK unfortunately, our telecom monopoly (OK it isn't any more, but only in some places) could not supply a short-term connection for that price, far less all the servers and things.

      For servers, if you do this kind of thing often, it would pay to accumulate obsolete PCs (a lot of people seem to be disposing of 733MHz Pentiums thse days, they don't cost very much at all), for use as servers, they are perfectly adequate for Linux or FreeBSD. That way you could k

  • by Robmonster ( 158873 ) <slashdot.journal2.store@neverbox.com> on Thursday May 20, 2004 @05:17AM (#9202293) Journal
    One thing to consider is whether the radio client dewvices are going to be sttic (like laptops left setup on a desk) or mobile (like handheld PDA's for example)

    If you are having static devices that get setup, connected then left in place for the duration then you can get away with using cheaper network switches. However, if youa re using mainly mobile devices then you can get disconnections as the user roams between access points on different cheaper switches.

    This has happened to some of our customers using handheld barcode scanners as they network equuipment could not perform the handoff between access pints quick enough, logging the radio user off.

    Not really directly answering your question but its something to consider.
    • "...the radio client dewvices..."

      Is that what happens to electronics the morning after a night of camping?
    • This has happened to some of our customers using handheld barcode scanners as they network equuipment could not perform the handoff between access pints quick enough, logging the radio user off.

      This is called a hard handoff. An example of a soft handoff is a cell phone, where you can switch between different cell towers and not be disconnected. However with current wireless networking implementations you are only able to do hard handoffs, where you will be disconnected when you go from one AP to another
  • by theirishman ( 749404 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @05:32AM (#9202327) Journal
    It depends on the country that you are in..but most of the small sercice providers will be able to help sort something like that out for you.. try talking to them..if they can not help directly they most likey know a company that can.

    Even if you offer them a stand at the event to allow them to show off their services, you can probley get them to help out!!!

    I know the manager, but not sure if they have what you need.


  • Outsourcing... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by igrp ( 732252 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:14AM (#9202393)
    Like others, I too would recommend using SoHo equipment. You can get it cheap, resell it at virtually no loss after the event and the world doesn't end when something breaks (trust me - it will; SoHo equipment wasn't designed for 24/7 use in rugged, outdoor terrain).

    Also, try to stick with as few different vendors as possible. That way, you won't introduce unnecessary incompatibilities and you won't have to deal with different setups and configurations (that may not be such a big problem as long as you stick to using SoHo equipment, as it's usually fairly standard-compliant and easily configured through a web interface).

    If your conference is really out in the middle of nowhere though consider turning to the pros. I have worked with T-Mobile techs on providing Internet access at an outdoor sports event in a fairly secluded area and have nothing but good things to say about them. Since there were no landlines and no WiFi coverage available we basically had to rely on cell transmissions. So we setup a IEEE 802.11 network and they provided the cell-phone backend. We had to put in a few restrictions (bandwidth throttling, etc) to ensure that the network was reasonably secure and to keep costs in check but it did work like a charm. Of course, that might not be an option depending on your choice of locale and your budget.

  • Sponsors? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ElGanzoLoco ( 642888 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:21AM (#9202405) Homepage
    What kind of gathering is it? I dunno about the satellite link, but perhaps you could get your WiFi base stations to be sponsored by some manufacturer or ISP...

    "WiFi hotspot courtesy of Apple|Linksys|Lucent" blah blah blah... I know in France, Apple sponsors big events organized by the municipality and lends quite a lot of equipment. Maybe you should try.
  • Mesh networking (Score:5, Informative)

    by douglashunter ( 766691 ) * on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:22AM (#9202407) Homepage
    There are plenty of open source solutions for setting up a mesh network, some of which are covered here [oreillynet.com].

    Thomas Krag & Co. also maintain a wiki [wire.less.dk] that you may find useful.

    Mobile Mesh [mitre.org] runs in user-land and is covered by the GPL. It seems to get the best reviews.

    -- Douglas
  • Satellite rental (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ayelvington ( 718605 )
    I know that Direct-Way has a self aligning rental unit available on a daily basis. (Shipped to and from via Fedex) Power is going to be a challenge Please let us know how you pull this off! ay
  • Why not ad-hoc (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sgraine ( 705489 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:51AM (#9202462)
    if you have enough clients the network will create itself.
  • Did it at the MASP (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 6800 ( 643075 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @07:07AM (#9202510)
    Last year at the Mid Atlantic Star Party, directway was gatewayed into a field near Robbins, NC for a large group of amateur astronomers. www.masp.org now has the plans for 2004 and the 'internet' activity links to an invalid page. It worked quite well. They used an MS box for the gw, you could use the dw6000, I suppose, to better advantage. They also had multiple linux boxes running local web servering and the like. Not sure if they used squid or what but if so, it was a transparent proxy method. Cheers, Russ
  • I thought you go camping to get away from all the technology and husle and bustle of modern life. I mean, that's the only logical conclusion unless lack of climate control, mosquitos, spiders, bears and scorpions are considered "worth-while" to experience first-hand.

    Maybe you mean RVing?

    I'd look at a simple WiFi router and some HAM radio equiment to do it on the cheap. Remember, Linux kernels can do that kind of thing ;-) I dunno if you can find a HAM ISP though.
  • in other news (Score:3, Informative)

    by Richthofen80 ( 412488 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @08:32AM (#9202789) Homepage
    slashdot user wants slashdot users to do his work for him!

    do what I do when consulting: say anything is possible, but estimate something that can't possibily be affordable.

    PS - Most campgrounds have one residential unit on the lot; its usually where the owners live and it usually can get cable. Contact the local cable company to see if they can provide high speed internet service to the residence, then base your wireless out of the residency (something on the roof, then repeaters)
  • I am aware of some work done at Ohio State University on the connectivity needs from the ISP point of view (campground to the internet). The solution involves a satellite uplink, a pickup truck and a portable gas generator. The project is called Transportable Satellite Internet System (TSIS) (project page [oar.net], press release [osu.edu], photographs [osu.edu])

    The folks at OSU might be willing to share information. I know they have used the trailer system to provide 11b wireless to events held "out in a field" as well.
  • I think it's pretty obvious that cheap WAPs and either a DirecWay or line-of-site to the nearest local broadband link is the way to go, but there are also a couple other things to consider. First, find out what they're going to be doing. If it's a conference for one company, make sure you find out what sites they'll be surfing the most, and use a proxy server that supports a web cache. If you have a few dozen people viewing a 50Mb PDF file, you'll want that to be local. There's plenty of free proxy servers
  • by RackinFrackin ( 152232 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @08:54AM (#9202926)
    The Soapbox [websoapbox.com] company specializes in portable connectivity. They mainly do political events, but from their info page [websoapbox.com] it looks like they could set up pretty much anywhere.
  • ask some of those [www.ccc.de] guys, so have experience [wiki.ccc.de]. In the wiki you might even be able to find the info you were looking for. You'll find a lot of people to ask, anyway.

    The CCC Camp 2003 was a really cool event [xs4all.nl], and i really hope there are going to be more camps like this in the future (thanks, guys!).
  • by n-baxley ( 103975 ) <nate AT baxleys DOT org> on Thursday May 20, 2004 @09:02AM (#9202964) Homepage Journal
    Depending on where you are, you might be able to hook up with a long range WiFi company. I currently use a company called PrairieINet here in Central Illinois and get my 802.11b signal from their tower 8 miles away. I then distribute it within the house with my own 802.11b router. I'd look into those providers around your area.
  • where is this event? (Score:4, Informative)

    by mcdade ( 89483 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @09:10AM (#9203021)
    You never stated where the event is or how much bandwidth is needed..

    Some cases you can have the phone company provision a line to the site (though you generally need a few weeks to make this happen). It is possible that the site already has phone/dsl service (unless it's out in the middle of nowhere).

    One of the best options is to see if there is a wireless provider in the area and back haul a connection from them, in some cases there are many free/opensource type communities that run their own wireless core network. Look at settle wireless or the BAWUG (Bay area wireless user group) as they have done point to point backhauls to a park so everyone could surf while they were there... backhaul with some good equipment then use some dlinks or linksys units for the WLAN .. use external antennas on the AP's not the duckies that are standard.. oh and you would be suprised at the distance the signal will travel in an open area with no interferance from other singles.

    Make sure AP's and backhaul are on seperate channels too..seen some people doing backhaul with 802.11a equipment (modifed) which is sometimes cheap to buy, and less bleedover signal in the spectrum. Oh.. lastly.. Trees are not your friend! they will kill your signal, don't bother trying to do this in a forest.

  • Coverage (Score:4, Informative)

    by duffer_01 ( 184844 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @09:13AM (#9203038) Homepage
    Our company did this for some golf tournaments we were running. We found that we definitely needed some access points that could hop from access point to another so that we could really extend the range.

    One problem with "hopping" is that occasionally if one of the access points in the middle of the link goes down, you may need to reset each of the other AP's down the line to get them back up and running.

    We also ran into some interesting problems such as the time that around 8am in the morning our coverage started dropping when all the houses around the course started turning on their microwaves. You can never guarantee that the coverage you have at one time will be consistent throughout the day.

    Along with a power supply and an access point, we also bought these special antennas that could be attached to camera tripods to give us a mini cell tower like setup. Oh yeah, and lesson learned, don't take those down during a thunderstorm.
  • Packet Radio (Score:2, Insightful)

    by maitas ( 98290 )
    You can even try setting up a SSB Packet Radio station , with the other part in the closest location with broadband Internet access, and you won't have any fixed fee, except for the broadband acces.
    Transfer rates have tipically been very low, but might be Ok for email and low-bandwith use.
  • Are you planning on charging for the service or giving it away? Other than the basics of laying out a AP network with non conflicting channels there is a lot more you would need to do to charge for the service.

    You should really look into hiring someone that has past experience with this as an amature you could really get into some interesting issues.
  • http://www.skycasters.com/emergency-rentals.html
  • You're getting consulting money to come up with a way to make this project work without a hitch. The fee paid is presumably for your ability and knowledge to succeed. Yet you turn around and gain that knowledge from /. readers. So what will be ther readers' cut in your compensation?
  • by Uninvited Guest ( 237316 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @09:34AM (#9203219)
    Forget the sharks. If you have line of sight between your site and another site that has the bandwidth, consider using lasers to bridge the last few miles. You can get over a 100Mbit that way. This article is a summary of what's possible right now with "free space optics":
    http://www.washingtontechnology.com/news /19_2/emer ging-tech/23327-1.html

    Here are Cannon's frickin' lasers:
    http://www.usa.canon.com/html/industrial_ canobeam/ canobeam/

    Terabeam Elliptica, plus links to other free fpace optics:
    http://www.freespaceoptics.com/Free_Space _Optics_T erabeam.html
  • Mesh networks (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    To avoid running cable at all between all your access points, you might want to take a look at AP mesh technologies from FireTide [firetide.com], Strix [strixsystems.com], Tropos [tropos.com] or Nortel [nortelnetworks.com].
  • by daun3507 ( 116384 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @10:10AM (#9203565)
    Check out the Transportable Satellite Internet System [osu.edu]. It looks like exactly what you are looking for.
  • Use an outdoor WAP (Score:3, Informative)

    by HermanZA ( 633358 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @10:40AM (#9203855)
    Eg.: www.zcomax.com look for the CPE252H. Cheap and rugged, about $300 a pop. ONE of them will cover the whole camp ground, but you may want to use two or three if there will be a lot of users.
  • Perhaps there is an ISP in your area (wherever that is) who operates a wireless network already?

    For instance, this [skyweb.ca] is a local company who provides wireless TV and internet (competing head-to-head with the local cable companies). Something like that would take care if the internet feed for relatively cheap, if it's available wherever you are. (My parents are using this service for TV and internet on their farm, which as about 30Km from the main tower.)
  • by Nikker ( 749551 )
    Well depending on your budget and how quick you want this over with you can call the cell carriers in your area and as an employee of one myself I know that they would love to talk to you. Call around and see what solutions they have it could be having cell phones connected to a router for service but i am pretty sure you could squeeze out a couple Mb/s. I'm not sure what youre intentions are (ie bandwidth required) but if you want happy campers a caching proxy mite be worth reading up on ;)
  • by Henry Melton ( 696193 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @11:29AM (#9204363) Homepage
    Motosat is a company in Utah that provides steerable Directway dishes for installation on RV's. I have one. My unit works in any campground where we can get a clear view of the sky. Even the most lovely forested places generaly have one or two sites that work. In my unit, I run the system to a Apple Airport base station which provides wifi connection for the immediate vacinity. Depending on how much bandwidth you need, something like this, with Airport Extreme base stations or equivalent hardware to act as repeaters might do the job. The trick is finding one of the thousands of snowbirds who might be willing to rent the services to you. http://www.motosat.com/
  • With so many options and so many trade-offs, it'd be good to know what you need the connection for.

    For instance, one thing I haven't seen brought up is iridium. If what you're doing is streaming audio of the conference you could use it's voice features to call up a voice modem in a box that could encode the stream and stream it on it's merry way. I've done ppp over iridium (slooowwww) too, so if you're streaming the audio during the day, you could call another number at night to get connectivity and may
  • Burning Man? (Score:4, Informative)

    by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @01:41PM (#9206177) Homepage
    Last year was my first burn - of the many, many things that impressed me, the fact that I was able to email from such a remote place (ok, not that remote - not like Antarctica or something) is something I will never forget. I would say that if you want to find out how to do this - you might start here [eugeneweb.com]...
  • Ask the right people (Score:3, Informative)

    by patrixmyth ( 167599 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:35PM (#9209682)
    Since your email resolves to a florida university, my advice would be to check here [bbwexchange.com]. Someone on this list of Florida WISPs will probably be able to help, or point you to someone that can.

    Forget satellite, find a wireless isp that will rent you the gear and handle the setup. The complexity of the project is too high to ebay and figure it out yourself, especially for a short-term event. In regards to cost, a minimum expectation is $2000, with a reasonable ceiling being $6000. Your results may vary.

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.