Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Wireless & lamp posts

We have been looking at alternative solutions to digging up the roads to install fibre in order to get services to properties belonging to the University that may not have had connectivity before. In particular there are a number of University-owned houses that would like access to the eduroam wireless service.

It is particularly difficult (and expensive) for us to dig up nearby roads as we are situated next to a number of hospitals and, therefore, important emergency routes.

One solution we went to have a look at yesterday was an outdoor wireless mesh network that made use of the power available from existing street lights.

As you can see it was a rather grey day, but atop the lamp post is a point to point wireless link back to campus and using PoE off that is a Motorola outdoor access point with one 802.11a radio antenna connected to a mesh of other AP's as well as an 802.11b/g/n radio antenna providing wireless access to the houses nearby.

The basic idea is:

If the council aren't amenable to having us install on street lights (as an alternative to digging up the road) we already have a CCTV pole there that we could make use of and install the mesh AP's on the chimneys instead. All we would have to do is get power up to the chimney stacks.

There is a huge cost saving not having to install fibre, data cabinets, cabling and building level switches and access points in every, or almost all, of the 46 properties.

It is a solution we haven't really thought much about before, although we have used a few point to point links previously and still having one in use. The numbers of access points in the mesh would depend on the results of the pre-installation survey and, at least if we do install them on chimneys, we have more locations to choose from.


Anonymous said...

My community has the same exact issue. We are looking for the same solution that you suggest. I am wondering if you have any suggestions as to how we would go about setting up this type of a system? Is there a vendor that we could contact. If so it would be much appreciated. My communities managing agent can be reached at 631-270-3023. Ask for Nancy.


CBites said...

Hi and thanks for checking out the blog.

Due to a number of other projects we have going on at the same time we hired a company called Pennine Telecom to do this all for us. All we had to do was provide a trunk port to their controller, which they installed in a cab near their master access point, and our wireless keys for any SSID's we wanted to broadcast. Pennine required our Radius server IP addresses for their controller. We also provided power to the client/mesh access points on the houses.

I am happy to share what information I know. I maybe haven't mentioned that we are based in the UK and, I can see from the phone number, you are not. The only other company that approached us about doing this for us was BTiNet, another company based here.

I will hopefully be writing a blog post when it is completed.