The Mimosa Starting a wisp series is actually pretty good info.
I use a lot of technical jargon below, largely because I’m lazy. If you don’t know what I’m saying, just ask for clarification and I’d be happy to explain.
To be fair, there’s about 50 miles of buried fiber justifying that $1,500 a month. I’m located on the road to nowhere Colorado, so internet costs a bit more then usual. Also, all my amounts are in US dollars, dunno what the conversion rate is or how costs may vary over there.
Sounds like you are in a pretty prime location, is there an HOA that might cause you trouble, or a wife who won’t like the radios on your roof? Otherwise, I like what you are saying as far as height above the surrounding area.
Mimosa has a really good link planner tool for free, just use your account and go to Mimosa’s Network design Tool and play with it. You can get some really good ideas about how different things like channel width, antenna gain, noise and TX power effect what you can do. I would recommend spending a good bit of time there just learning how the various radios and antennas perform differently.
So, first off, the question is going to be what kind of profitability are you aiming for? It’s great and all to be doing a community service, I work for a co-op, it’s fun, but it doesn’t pay. Also, what’s your end goal? If fiber could be 4 years out then you are running against a clock (sure it could be 20 years out, but you don’t know so it should at least be considered).
Next up you need to figure out what kind of cash your wanting to invest. If you are just using your house you can reduce your costs significantly. As long as you and your wife are willing to live with the eyesore of radios and antennas sticking up off of your roof. If not then you will have to look at poles/towers… Figure out how much you can charge for what kinds of service so you can have some clarity in how long it’s going to take you to make your money back.
Alright, now you should have some ideas for how much you can spend, which is a great guidepost for building something IMO. My back of the head guess is you’ll need between $2,000 to $4,000 to get started depending on your preferred system and tools you need to buy. (1 router, 1 Access point + antenna, 5 customer radios, good cable and accessories) Now, this could easily get to the $15,000 range in total investment, but that’s not what you need to start. (With the full 100 customers you are looking around $25,000) not that there are many other options out there, but I am kinda directing my recommendations to this budget.
Starting off, you will need the basics as far as cabling stuff goes, RJ-45 crimper, power drill and other stuff for running wires. It sucks, but you are going to spend a lot of time doing installs if you want them to look decent. I would recommend talking to an electrician so you can make sure you are following your countries building codes. Get good quality outdoor rated cable, I recommend Shireen, get the stuff that is Plenum, burial rated and UV proof, it’s more costly then normal Cat6, but it’s worth it to avoid as many cabling issues as possible. (I use Cat5e, but I’m cheap and don’t follow Mimosa’s recommendations, lol)
Wireless equipment is kinda the big question though:
Since your posting in their forum, I’m assuming that your looking at using Mimosa equipment. The A5x is probably right up your alley, although the A5 is a close second in my book. I have not run the A5x yet, but it’s small, cheap and simple all of which I imagine are positives in your book. If you go with the A5x then you will need an antenna to go with it, an omnidirectional antenna isn’t a bad way to start, but you will run into issues with noise eventually. If your customers will be in a group then you are in luck, check out RF Elements and their horns, specifically their 90 twist port I’m using it with great results. If you want to build with an eye towards growing towards your 100 customer limit then you might consider an A5c with a N5-360 antenna. The A5c is definitely the expensive route, but as you grow you can move the A5c to a smaller beamwidth antenna. Client radios, I would only recommend the C5x. Grab an assortment of the types of dishes, but you should be fine with mostly the low gain antennas. Don’t mess with the C5 or C5c, C5x is the way to go.
As much as I like Mimosa, I feel I would be dishonest if I didn’t mention some other options…
Ubiquiti, you can basically buy all your equipment and manage it together in a unified system. From the client router to your router they have something that will fit your bill. I use them, they work well. But I am not a fan of some of the companies actions in the last few years. If I could I would move away from them. (Airmax AC line or their new LTU line, can’t make a recommendation on their router line)
Mikrotik (60 GHz), Mikrotik isn’t known for their wireless for good reason. But they have a great 60 GHz product that I’ve been using in small deployments like yours to great success. If I was doing this system I would probably go this route… Sorry Mimosa. The main benefit would be that you would entirely avoid interference which is a problem in urban deployments. There are negatives, for most of your potential customers it’s not an issue, but 60 GHz experiences serious rain fade issues, beyond 500M you will have to have good alignments and test in your are to make sure you won’t run into issues. Slight issue, max 8 clients per AP, but they are pretty low cost and don’t take up much room. (Just look up Mikrotik 60 GHz and you will find their whole range)
Cambium is kinda the high class radio manufacturer in the industry. Most people who run them remind me of Apple snobs, and they still have issues. I don’t run them, besides for customer routers, but they are an option. They do have a management system that is pretty slick though. They are expensive. (I use their CnPilot home WiFi routers, otherwise I can’t make a great recommendation, talk to a rep?)
If you don’t go the Ubiquiti/Cambium route, router hardware is the next question. You will need a router, for diagnosis, general network setup and isolation, all sorts of reasons all lead to “get a good networking router, don’t use a consumer router”. I like Mikrotik they make good routers that don’t cost a lot and have lots of features. If your familiar with Cisco (or any of the big names) you can find used hardware online that will work, but I can’t give much guidance there. My preference is to buy cheap new over used old. Ubiquiti is another company with routing hardware, they might be the simplest to setup, but have limitations that shouldn’t be a problem for you if you stay under 300 odd ppl. If you are still wondering about why your consumer router won’t work, just trust me and start learning networking.
Next up is switching hardware, this is debatable though. If you spend a bit more money on a router you should have enough ports available you won’t need a switch which both saves you money and simplifies your network in some ways. Getting a PoE switch will help a lot when you have multiple Access Points and don’t want a million wires going everywhere.
Finally, antenna mounts, if you go Mimosa get their antenna mounts. Otherwise you should be fine with whatever J-pole you want to use.