Wireless ISPs (WISPs)

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Wireless ISPs (WISPs)

Post by swwifty » Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:04 am

Thought I'd start a thread to discuss WISPs. I think a lot of folks that are technical and setting up 4G conections are probably learning about WISPs in the process. They are very common in rural areas now to solve the rural broadband problem.

Part of my adventure into 4G as a home internet connection led me into starting a WISP. Feel free to discuss here/ask questions. I can provide links to more info on it, but if you live in an area that has poor internet more then likely you can start a WISP to help your community.

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Re: Wireless ISPs (WISPs)

Post by JimHelms » Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:35 am

Great idea.

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Re: Wireless ISPs (WISPs)

Post by swwifty » Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:07 pm


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Re: Wireless ISPs (WISPs)

Post by xdavidx » Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:20 am

Thanks for starting this. I'd be very interested in hearing more details about contacting tower owners and leasing space. What the contracts are like (duration, pricing, etc.). Equipment used for the hops to get closer to the customers (tower to tower) and equipment used from tower to customer would be cool to hear about too. Frequencies, speeds, etc. would be fun too. :ugeek: :D

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Re: Wireless ISPs (WISPs)

Post by swwifty » Mon Jul 15, 2019 7:54 am

xdavidx wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:20 am
Thanks for starting this. I'd be very interested in hearing more details about contacting tower owners and leasing space. What the contracts are like (duration, pricing, etc.). Equipment used for the hops to get closer to the customers (tower to tower) and equipment used from tower to customer would be cool to hear about too. Frequencies, speeds, etc. would be fun too. :ugeek: :D
It's quite complicated when it comes to tower leasing. A lot of tower companies are interested in leasing to WISPs now, but the logistics and planning are very complicated. I could probably have a thread just on tower leasing. While this site is a bit dated, it's still very useful: https://startyourownisp.com/

The main two companies in the WISP hardware industry are Ubiquiti and Cambium Networks. I did some basic longer range testing this weekend with some CPEs (Customer premise equipment) off a mountain I'm going to be going on, and a location about 3.5 miles away. This was just a point to point connection, and not a point to multipoint which is what most sectors cover/serve. I was basically trying to do some spectrum analysis and see how much throughput I could manage even with the cheap CPEs and not a real AP and sector antenna. Aggregate throughput for both was about 110mbps on a 20mhz channel. Below are some screenshots for everyone's enjoyment, and links to the datasheets on the hardware:

https://dl.ubnt.com/datasheets/LiteBeam ... en2_DS.pdf

Ubiquiti Status Page:
Screenshot from 2019-07-13 11-23-46.png
https://www.cambiumnetworks.com/product ... ce-300-16/

Cambium Connection page:
Screenshot from 2019-07-13 11-56-21.png
A picture from where I was testing at:
2019-07-13.jpg

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Re: Wireless ISPs (WISPs)

Post by xdavidx » Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:25 pm

swwifty wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 7:54 am
I could probably have a thread just on tower leasing.
Looking forward to it! :D
swwifty wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 7:54 am
I did some basic longer range testing this weekend with some CPEs (Customer premise equipment) off a mountain I'm going to be going on, and a location about 3.5 miles away.
So this is a CPE antenna to a CPE antenna?
swwifty wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 7:54 am
Aggregate throughput for both was about 110mbps on a 20mhz channel. Below are some screenshots for everyone's enjoyment, and links to the datasheets on the hardware:
Cool. What does aggregate throughput mean here? Does that mean total throughput when sending and receiving at the same time? Were you able to do 40 MHz at that distance, or did that degrade the signal too much?

Are you testing the Ubiquiti vs Cambium? Did one work better than the other?

Thanks for sharing the screenshots and picture.

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Re: Wireless ISPs (WISPs)

Post by swwifty » Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:08 pm

xdavidx wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:25 pm
Looking forward to it! :D


So this is a CPE antenna to a CPE antenna?


Cool. What does aggregate throughput mean here? Does that mean total throughput when sending and receiving at the same time? Were you able to do 40 MHz at that distance, or did that degrade the signal too much?

Are you testing the Ubiquiti vs Cambium? Did one work better than the other?

Thanks for sharing the screenshots and picture.
Yes, this was just cheaper CPE equipment connecting to each other in a point to point connection.

Aggregate throughput here means the total throughput possible on the channel transmit and receive combined, like you mentioned. Wifi chipsets normally transmit and receive on the same frequency. That means they are half duplex (they can only transmit or receive at any given moment, not both at once.) This is referred to as time division duplex (it's a form of multiplexing)

LTE in the US is typically frequency division duplex (FDD) which is a different frequency for transmit and a different frequency for receive. A good guide to this can be found at: https://www.cablefree.net/wirelesstechn ... dd-vs-tdd/

It's good to understand this, because FDD enables full duplex, while TDD is only half duplex. They have pros and cons that are too long to detailed here.

The Cambium CPE seemed to perform much better surprisingly. Especially cause the gain on the antenna is 7dbi less, which added up to 14dbi (when you add it the other CPE) for the link!

I didn't try a 40mhz channel, cause I likely won't use channels that wide as I want to save spectrum. Channel sizes have pros and cons. The wider the channel is the more noise it will pick up, and the tx power is spread out across a wider channel. This means effectively that the SINR will likely be lower, than a narrow channel. It really all depends on how long the link is, and what kind of link budget (how weak the signal is where you are, and how much the signal can degrade before you have a link outage) you have. The WISP guide I posted earlier explains some of this, but this is a complex topic in RF engineering. The wireless channel is a very interesting engineering topic, as it's a lot more dynamic and variable than for example, a copper or fiber cable!

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Re: Wireless ISPs (WISPs)

Post by xdavidx » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:01 pm

swwifty wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:08 pm
Aggregate throughput here means the total throughput possible on the channel transmit and receive combined, like you mentioned. Wifi chipsets normally transmit and receive on the same frequency. That means they are half duplex (they can only transmit or receive at any given moment, not both at once.) This is referred to as time division duplex (it's a form of multiplexing)
Yep, that's why I was wondering if that is what you were testing. Do you get about 200 Mbps in one direction then? Is there any way to restrict upload speeds so that people doing uploads don't slow down the downloads for others as much?
swwifty wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:08 pm
The Cambium CPE seemed to perform much better surprisingly. Especially cause the gain on the antenna is 7dbi less, which added up to 14dbi (when you add it the other CPE) for the link!
What was the performance difference?
swwifty wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:08 pm
I didn't try a 40mhz channel, cause I likely won't use channels that wide as I want to save spectrum.
What is your target speed for end users? Will you have different speeds that you can restrict the system to and different prices for the different speed levels? How do you deal with them sharing bandwidth with each other on the same channel (when you have sector antennas and ptmp instead of ptp)? Is this handled through restrictions, or will each user just expect to get 1/N the bandwidth, where N is the number of active users at any given point in time?

The sharing aspects are what I pondered a lot when thinking about the possibility of setting up something like this. If you have a captive audience, where they don't have any other option, then that's one thing. But if they have DSL or cable availability (speaking in general, not your situation), then restricting them or sharing the wireless pipes is a harder value proposition.

Do you expect to see similar speeds with sector antennas? Do you have to run different sectors (from the same tower) on different channels? That's one thing I never looked into much. I thought there was a concept of using shielding, but I'm not sure if that was between sector antennas or how that came into play and whether that would allow the same channel to be used by different sectors.
swwifty wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:08 pm
The wireless channel is a very interesting engineering topic, as it's a lot more dynamic and variable than for example, a copper or fiber cable!
Yes, it is! Tons of variables. At least the Ubiquiti software has a lot of smarts in it to help (from the research I did in the past). Never looked at the Cambium stuff to know how it compares in that regard.

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Re: Wireless ISPs (WISPs)

Post by swwifty » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:51 pm

xdavidx wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:01 pm
Yep, that's why I was wondering if that is what you were testing. Do you get about 200 Mbps in one direction then? Is there any way to restrict upload speeds so that people doing uploads don't slow down the downloads for others as much?


What was the performance difference?


What is your target speed for end users? Will you have different speeds that you can restrict the system to and different prices for the different speed levels? How do you deal with them sharing bandwidth with each other on the same channel (when you have sector antennas and ptmp instead of ptp)? Is this handled through restrictions, or will each user just expect to get 1/N the bandwidth, where N is the number of active users at any given point in time?

The sharing aspects are what I pondered a lot when thinking about the possibility of setting up something like this. If you have a captive audience, where they don't have any other option, then that's one thing. But if they have DSL or cable availability (speaking in general, not your situation), then restricting them or sharing the wireless pipes is a harder value proposition.

Do you expect to see similar speeds with sector antennas? Do you have to run different sectors (from the same tower) on different channels? That's one thing I never looked into much. I thought there was a concept of using shielding, but I'm not sure if that was between sector antennas or how that came into play and whether that would allow the same channel to be used by different sectors.


Yes, it is! Tons of variables. At least the Ubiquiti software has a lot of smarts in it to help (from the research I did in the past). Never looked at the Cambium stuff to know how it compares in that regard.
Both the Ubiquiti and Cambium radios got about 110mbps aggregate, so max of 110mbps one direction.. They also both weren't hitting 256qam in a 20mhz channel and were only at 64 qam modulation. I suspect if they could get closer to 130mbps if they hit max modulation rates.

The cambium radio got a stronger signal, but more importantly seemed to be more consistent on throughput.

I'll have a few different plans that will be limited to their speeds via QoS. End users don't know about the entire sectors capacity. Typically a wireless sector is oversubscribed 10 to 1, without impacting actually throughput. This is can work because the average home user at peak times only uses about 10mbps/sec, even if they have a 1 gig connection! This is why one gig connections are a home are total gimmicks (well for now at least, until someone creates something that requires that much throughput)

I'll most likely start out with a couple of sectors. Frequency re-use in these products is possible typically with ABAB use. This is another huge complex topic, but basically 4 sectors can use 2 channels without interfering with each other, specifically while using a GPS sync feature. This is where LTE is much better as it can support frequency reuse of 1 (aka same channel on every sector). This is really important to carriers who pay millions for their spectrum.

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Re: Wireless ISPs (WISPs)

Post by xdavidx » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:52 pm

swwifty wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:51 pm
Both the Ubiquiti and Cambium radios got about 110mbps aggregate, so max of 110mbps one direction..
Sorry, I'm not understanding this. If they got 110 Mbps aggregate, and if aggregate the total of the send speed plus the receive speed, when sending and receiving at the same time, then how is it 110 Mbps in one direction when not sending in the other direction at the same time?
swwifty wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:51 pm
They also both weren't hitting 256qam in a 20mhz channel and were only at 64 qam modulation. I suspect if they could get closer to 130mbps if they hit max modulation rates.
Distance was too great, or needed to be pointed better, or the channel was too noisey from other systems around there? Why do you think it wasn't able to hit the higher modulation?
swwifty wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:51 pm
Typically a wireless sector is oversubscribed 10 to 1, without impacting actually throughput. This is can work because the average home user at peak times only uses about 10mbps/sec, even if they have a 1 gig connection! This is why one gig connections are a home are total gimmicks (well for now at least, until someone creates something that requires that much throughput)
Hey, if they don't have any other way to get internet, then I suppose 10 Mbps would seem pretty darn nice. With just simple math and ignoring possible slowdowns from multiple users hitting it at the same time, and slowdowns from spreading the signal out over a wider beam width with sector antennas, that's 110 users over that 110 Mbps link (or more, depending on your answers about single direction speeds). In a sparsely populated area, that seems like a lot of people! :D

I agree about the 1 Gbps not being totally necessary. I am looking forward to faster speeds than my 10 Mbps DSL here, with my LTE setup, because:

A) I have multiple people in the house who stream video at the same time. We got rid of our satellite TV service a few years ago and all our TV is through streaming now. Not to mention Youtube use by my kids.
B) It allows for 4K video, which wants about 25 Mbps. I don't have any 4K TVs yet, but I'm sure in the future I will eventually.
C) You can never have enough speed for large things that need to be fully downloaded, like software installation files, software updates, non-streaming video files, tons of digital images (moving stuff around for home movies/photos), etc.

But if people are brand new to the internet, (A) and (B) probably aren't going to matter to them and (C) is more of a unique thing for someone who does a lot of computer work.

In my area, there are others who have access to cable (I don't), so it would be very difficult for me to compete with that if I wanted to set up a WISP. I could compete with the phone company on the DSL no problem, since the speeds are slow and the service is horrible. There might be some more rural areas here where they don't have access to cable. I'll have to ponder that a bit. I do know that I used to check for any WISPs that might have sprung up, every few months, praying that something other than DSL would become available to me. I did that for *years*! So discouraging to have no other options. I'm sure there are others who feel the same way.
swwifty wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:51 pm
I'll most likely start out with a couple of sectors. Frequency re-use in these products is possible typically with ABAB use. This is another huge complex topic, but basically 4 sectors can use 2 channels without interfering with each other, specifically while using a GPS sync feature. This is where LTE is much better as it can support frequency reuse of 1 (aka same channel on every sector). This is really important to carriers who pay millions for their spectrum.
So you'll have 2 sectors operating next to each other and each will have their own channel, so no interference, or will your 2 sectors be back to back and use the same frequency? I read up on the sync stuff before, but don't remember all the details. Is that where all the tower antennas send to all the customer antennas at the same time and then they all sync in sending the response packets back at the same time, so that you don't end up with collisions (or greatly reduce them)?

I imagine there is some latency added with that, but probably works out better than dealing with all the collisions.

How do you deal with non-customers who are in the path of your antennas and have home wifi setups? They get slowed down or have to know to move channels (assuming they aren't set for automatic channel assignment)? And then, for your customers, you tell them which channel(s) to avoid for their home wifi?

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