Help with a network design


So let’s get the obvious out of the way. I am a newbie to WISP’s and am only truly familiar with Ubiquiti. I have been asked to setup a WISP throughout a 55+ retirement community. I am looking at the A5 15. I have a tower location in which I already have a Ubiquiti AirFiber Link setup. There are 350 residents that I will have to supply internet to (25-50mbps) and I have access to 10gbps. I don’t know exactly how I should design the network with Mimosa hardware. I’m willing to spend so money, but I don’t want it to be spent on something I don’t need. I did 10 gig because it was cheaper than 1 gig in my area (Crazy I Know) and my operating cost is going to be about 3500 a month. Ill be bringing in around 9000 as the community owner is providing the service for free, it will be take from lot rent. My thought would be have a couple A5-14’s, but you all would know better than me. The attached photo is the entire park. I would like to keep the cost of antenna for the subscriber units under $100 if possible and from the looks of it, it is. I would love to hear your feedback! Thank you guys so much!!!

Hey, welcome to the community. Hope you find all the help and info you need.

First off, what’s the scale on this map?

Secondly, there’s a few different considerations that you will probably need to answer before a network design can really be fleshed out.

  1. How and where are you going to be mounting the A5 radios?
  2. How are you going to get connectivity to each A5?
  3. Are there limitations on how visible or number of locations for A5 radios you can use?
  4. How much money do you have off the bat that you are willing to invest?
  5. How are you planning on powering your radios? Do they need to have battery backups?
  6. Are there limitations to where you can place your CPE radios on the homes?
  7. Have you considered Fiber? There are a lot of people reporting lot’s of success doing GPON build-outs with Ubiquiti GPON equipment.

There probably more questions that should be asked, but these are what come to mind at the moment.

Quick note, as far as I know the C5x is the only PTMP radio available right now, which normally is ~$80, while the C5x can be used without any extra parts (except mount) that is only good for a few hundred feet if you are wanting to do +25 Mbps off of an A5 radio. (Reliably) Antennas will let you go further and interfere with yourself less, but will also require that you spend $115-140 per CPE.

Personally, I see CPE equipment as the least expensive part of the install. Paying an installer, equipping and insuring will almost always eclipse the CPE costs. (Unless you have poor quality installs which only increase your operating costs for maintenance and support.) Also, until you get in the +$300 range for a CPE, over 3 years your other support and maintenance costs will also eclipse your CPE costs as well.

For scale, the entire park is about 45 acres. I am completely fine with a $150 CPE cost, I was more worried about the 200-600 dollar range. Do you mean fiber installs to each unit? I can mount any radio wherever I need. They’ll all be 12-25 feet high. 12 for the cpe and 25 for everything else. Essentially, I have no limits. There’s some trees, but not many. And not enough that I would think you would need to worry. I have battery backups already. I have 15 or so. They will be powered using park provided power. There are no limitations on where I can place the CPE’s. My biggest problem is I am not familiar with Mimosa or it’s offerings, not the best way to configure them.

Well for config that’s pretty straightforward…

You will want to use SRS mode, it’s Mimosa’s version of GPS Sync. From there I would probably lean towards 66/33 or 75/25 Download/Upload Split, but default is 50/50 so it’s up to you.

Number of clients is limited to something like 40ish in SRS mode. For how high you will be able to mount the APs that won’t be an issue for you, not enough clear LOS to go much further then 10-20 houses per AP.

The rest depends entirely on how you prefer to connect your customers back to your router. Also how you want to get your customers their IP info. PPPoE seems to be pretty popular, DHCP Option 82 is the other way people operate, I use VLANs, but it’s entirely up to you.

You will certainly need to make sure that you have LOS between the AP and it’s clients otherwise you will really struggle running anything wider then the 20 MHz wide channel. For your situation I would want 40MHz minimum. There are plenty of people who have posted ~200 Mbps through A5 radios on 40 MHz wide channels.

I cannot emphasize enough the need to have good signals, in that dense of an area you are going to have a lot of interference. Stronger signals (up to about -35 dB) will be able to deal with the noise better and give you more reliable service.

As far as fiber, yes, this is a pretty high density deployment, a GPON system will mean you can run most of those houses off a couple UBNT OLT devices and then not have to deal with wireless. Deployment time won’t be nearly as quick, and your costs will be higher. But your long term costs for maintenance will be much lower and support will be pretty simple. Now, I don’t run Ubiquiti GPON equipment for my fiber deployments, I am doing Active Ethernet, but there are lots of people who are doing Ubiquiti GPON with good success. (Just make sure to keep your customers per OLT port under 30 and you should be good, is what I have been told)

Also your operating costs will be lower. No need for battery backup for the wireless access points, moving channels around because of changing interference. False DFS hits that are inevitable. Etc. I have over 1000 customers on wireless equipment and several hundred on Mimosa equipment, but in high density deployments like this there are very strong arguments for doing fiber.

The two main reasons why you wouldn’t do fiber off the bat would be because you don’t have enough cash (which is why they made banks) or the HOA doesn’t want you tearing up their lawns. (Harder to argue, but the benefits of fiber are easy enough to explain.)

I will have around 40-50 houses LOS to the AP’s So Ill have to put up 8 or so. I don’t think I would be able to talk a 55+ community into giving me permission to dig all of their properties up, but the bigger problem is I have NO clue how fiber even begins to work in a populated area. I know nothing about fiber, but if I did it might be an easier sell. Fiber would be an amazing way to do it and I think youre right about the maintenance. Could you send any information you have on starting with fiber my way? Till then I’ll start my own research. Thank you so much!!!

There is a really great Facebook group called WISPs turned FISPs they have a lot of guys who are doing what you are and figuring out Fiber for the first time. There are also a lot of guys who are experts and quite a few vendors there who are really helpful.

As far as the technical side of Fiber, it’s exactly like radio, TX and RX signals need to be strong enough for negotiation then things work. Otherwise you are just replacing one Layer 2 bridge for another.

Big things to know is the lingo. There is an alphabet letter soup for fiber and keeping up with it is really confusing in the begging. https://fiber.ui.com/ has a couple really good overviews of their system and how it works together. This is also a pretty good article on the Ubiquiti Fiber system and designing with GPON. UFiber GPON - Designing a GPON Network – Ubiquiti Support and Help Center