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PCI cards to use Edit

* PciCards

I operate 2 mesh networks, one in rural, northeast Texas, the other in rural, northwest Louisiana. We started "experimenting with LW back in late 2002, well before it was ready for "prime-time". I ordered up my first batch of access points in early 2003, and by the middle of that year, we began operating commercially. Since then, I've seen the product become mature and very stable. Today, we have almost 200 houses or businesses using the 30+ nodes in our networks, which combined are covering over 250 square miles.

For backhaul, I have multiple T1's, plus commercial aDSL lines for backup. For redundancy, we have uplink points located in 3 different locations, so that if one uplink circuit goes down, the network will begin using the uplink circuit(s) that remain up. In my opinion, the backhaul part of the equation is something that you can grow into. Start with a commercial aDSL line, then consider moving up to multiple lines (in different locations) or to more robust when you have more users and you can afford it. Of course, if the telco doesn't have a DSL offering close enough to pull from (using wireless to make the final hop or hops), then you may have to consider a more robust (and expensive) option up front.

I lease several large, commercial towers, but one tower in particular servies 50 homes and businesses. It has two access points, both with dual radios. One has 2 "B" radios, the other has a "B" radio and an Atheros radio (A/B/G) operating in "A" mode. The clients on this tower use thier service to do everything from peer-to-peer, gaming, and VoIP. Until earlier this year, I fed bandwidth into this tower using one of the mesh interfaces (not a good idea). Then I moved it to a simplex "A" link. The situation improved, but the VoIP users and gamers still had latency problems when there was a lot of traffic on those access points. A few months ago, I installed a full-duplex Mikrotik link to bring bandwidth in, and that issue went away. The main way I know it has gone away is that I now get no complaints about latency, whereas before when a simplex link was installed, I did! Bandwidth was there, but latency was an issue. We are now beginning to use the "A" interface as mesh backhaul to remote points.

Here in the US, the 900MHz band has opened up, and we have parts of our network using that for backhaul. With LOS, I've achieved transfers of over 30Mb/s from within the network. I've also seen similar results on 5.8GHz. I've not conducted any tests on 2.4GHz (G), but I would assume they would be the same, since the LW software uses Atheros drivers, and when you are using 900MHz, you "pretend" that your cards are actually 2.4GHz (G) cards in the configuration.

http://www.fastlineisp.com/index.php?optionfiltered=com_content&task=view&id=32 Here is a short post that I made of our tests on 900MHz.

Lessons learned:

1. Buy commercial gear from vendors that are certified as LW service partners in your country. LW only certifies individuals or companies that they know to understand the way in which thier systems operate. There are "uncertified" companies that are out there that sell LW products, and you may get a good deal on the surface, but when it doesn't work the way it ought to, the deal will no longer be that great. When you need help, your service partner is your first line of support.

2. Use the commercial software, not the open source software. The OSS is great for experimentation, but the Pro software is a necessity when one wishes to provide commercial service. Both systems will mesh, however, and OSS nodes can be used in a commercial mesh, although you may encounter some odd issues.

3. For large networks with many users, consider other options on backhaul. Don't put all of your eggs into one basket! The LW Pro software has a feature called "clustering" that allows you to use other systems and protocols in your backbone network, yet still have the option to mesh at the end users location. This is quite handy.

4. Don't forget CPE in your equations. Buy commercial CPE units only from reputable companies. Here in the US, I purchase CPE from Deliberant. They manufacture CPE using the Zinwell boards, a board used by many companies. They have a very good price, and offer good service after the sale as well. I've found that these units outperform anything else we've ever used. I have a tutorial on setting them up as well located at this page: http://www.fastlineisp.com/index.php?optionfiltered=com_content&task=view&id=19&Itemid=25

Quite honestly, back when we started this, we tried cobbling together CPE to keep it below a certain price point, and it just doesn't work well. No matter how good your network is, if the end user has something that only works half the time, they perceive that your service only works half the time! Plus, trying to support such a setup is a nightmare. I learned those lessons quickly. Settling on one system for delivery of services to the end user (mesh, plus the same CPE everywhere) makes your job as a network admin much easier.

5. Simplex does not scale up well. Once upon a time, I thought that it did just fine. Since then, our network tripled in size! I've tried to restructure our network so that we have dual-radio units in as many places as possible. We often use mesh for backhaul now, then plug a commercial AP into the ethernet port of the mesh AP and use that on a different "B" channel for the local interface. Jon Anderson wrote a "tips" page, and this is one of the last tips on the page. His page is here: http://www.locustworld.com/tracker/wiki?p=JonsTipsPage And here LocustTipsPage

6. Consider "pushing" the bandwidth out across as many different channels and/or bands as possible. For instance, at our office, I am using 900MHz to penetrate trees and get bandwidth to remote neighborhoods over one hop, rather than over multiple hops. We use 5.8GHz to link up to the towers, and to link our towers to each other. The neighborhoods near our office (higher population density) use 2.4GHz simplex mesh links.

Good luck and keep us posted on your network. You'll find that there are users on this list from all over the globe.

Best regards, Kenny


   Hi, I've just started for a company near Basingstoke who operate from
   a rural location. They are looking into getting the fattest connection
   they can. Getting BT to dig up the roads is enormously expensive, a
   microwave to provide line of sight to achieve a "up to 20mb"
   connection is not as expensive and looks like the main possibility.
   I was wondering about how LW could fit into this equation.I've only
   ever used b cards and wondered if g cards are available? What sort of
   max speed could we hope to achieve, and how about positioning
   antennas? We could also provide some of the local businesses and homes
   with a share of the broadband. These are all thoughts, but my initial
   thought is that LW wouldn't provide the fat pipe we require and more
   to share with others.
   Also, being business critical, is LW going to be stable enough or
   should I consider redundancy in the plan I'm putting together?
   Finally, what backhaul could I get for a plan such as this?
   Thanks

Senao and Netgear Edit

No your not just the only one!! I know of five other networks in the uk with the same problems. For your info we use Netgear ma311 cards and seano 2511mp mini pci cards and still have the same problem. The speed issue was about 3 years ago, look through the wiki's you will find ref to it. It did get fixed in build 105 I think and then returned about 6 months back. I have had the same problem with the speed and I was told by jon it was just me. I have had this problem on Pro versions for the last 4 versions and maybe it is the wireless cards we are using. We are using the smc 2532B and also the Demarctech 370mw card.

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