Thought I’d explain a little about a home project I did earlier in the year. At our farm 8 years ago we had an ADSL connection at 3.2 mbps down, 400kbps up, 80 ping, the good old days. Network overloading or lack of investment over the years slowed it to ~1mbps down, 100-300ms ping, 200-400kbps up at the beginning of this year.
Took the jump went for a wireless solution with all the investment in the RBI infrastructure in our area- the biggest issue was there is no cellular coverage, no VDSL, no fibre and no plans for any of them in the foreseeable future.
You see we are down a side ride 10km from a small unpopulated town, and the side road is in a valley, and especially at the farmhouse there is hill each side in the directions of where in opposite directions there are cellular towers. Nor was there any clear site of a WISP provider. The side road is pretty quite and ends up in a pretty sleepy coastal village.
On our farm, though, there are several paddocks that have line of sight to both a Vodafone and Spark tower to the north of us, the distance between paddock and tower is 14km, but with good clearance. We knew that both towers had been RBI upgraded, and friends of ours were receiving great speeds from the upgrade. Those paddocks are only 2km line of sight from our house, but sadly no easy way to get 240v anywhere near the paddocks. So, while we initially were looking into that with a solar power source, that became to complicated, well to be honest, too expensive. One day I’d like to go down that track to get a better speed - anyway.
In the end we found a spot near our woolshed - not even close to a line of sight to tower, and more like 16km of distance including a number of hills, but there was a small area with a sufficient (but not strong) signal (when connected with the external 4G antenna). Of course the woolshed has 240v, so that made things much easier.
Dug trench and had the electrician install the power cable, used a metal pole attached to wooden fence post. Another fencepost to make a bridge for a weatherproof box for electrical input etc, the storage of the 4G modem, and 2 POE injectors, one linking to a Ubiquiti Rocket M2 titanium attached to a (plastic cheapo) RF elements sector antenna, and the other to a Nanostation M2 for the PTP link to the farmhouse.
The farmhouse is a 1km drive, 700m (almost) line of sight from the pole, passing through a few poplar trees, and a few garden bushes on the way - nothing too dense or obstructive. The farmhouse PTP unit is fixed to the satellite bracing that we once used when iHug satellite was our internet source. The PTP link runs between 150 - 195 mbps usually.
Keeping in mind there is no usage mobile coverage around woolshed, upper and lower yards, and lower paddock next to house the WiFi AP does a great job. A revelation being able to communicate in the working part of the farm when expecting a truck or during shearing or to communicate with family / workers. Map very roughly shows WiFi coverage on iPhone handset. Have made VOIP calls using iPhones happily over 200m distance from WiFi AP - gets a bit twitchy at 350/400m and after that and text message (iMessage / WhatsApp) still works well, but calls not really easy. It will be great if WiFi calling is implemented and becomes standard in NZ telecommunications. I saw that 2degrees has / is implementing it now, hopefully the others follow in their lead. (We are no longer on 2degrees for our mobiles).
On a good day our 4G connection runs at 50ms ping, 52mbps down, 12ms up - that’s probably 30 % of the time, more usually at 50 ms ping 30-40mbps down and 6-8mbps up. (Our farmhouse local WiFi AP, while far from perfect, is never the bottleneck, nor is the PTP as it is stable - it’s always the 4G).
Any hiccups? We had a solid fortnight where the registered 4G signal was much lower and speeds dropped to about 70ms ping, 8-10mbsp down, 4-6 mbps up. I was worried it was going to deteriorate further because couldn’t isolate what the cause was. One day it went back to normal and that hasn’t repeated. I wondered if it was a cell tower configuration or update or so.
Anyway, that was the project. Now the next project is to replace the WiFi system in the house - might need to wait a year or two before spending any more money. Exciting to see 2degrees new regarding WiFi calling. If WiFi calling becomes available on our provider will fast forward those plans of extending the home network. Would put in several LAN linked APs in house, with a few mesh APs outdoors alongside a rocket m2 with sector antenna (or similar - perhaps something within UniFi range) to give full coverage around garden and implement and hay sheds. We have numerous APs already but iOS doesn’t do well swapping between (it basically doesn’t), free roaming capable UBNT devices would be a nice system to have for relatively seamless WiFi coverage. One day.
Our RBI 4G provider is Netspeed. Couldn’t recommend them more. I dealt with David in the Chch office and he was great - approachable, flexible, and was happy to refund everything if turned out not to be a goer.
To be honest, project was more complicated than we anticipated. Biggest mistake was trying to do it POE. I haven’t mentioned that until now, but initially on advice it seemed the 4G modem as well as everything else could run on POE from the woolshed with some additional equipment.
This was going to save electrician needing to do anything with 240v. We went down that track first. It worked at times but the modem was turning off and on frequently, it was quite clearly not going to work.
We had spent a lot of time with adaptors and cables trying to implement that at first. Saw sense, backtracked on POE, and got the electrician involved.
[Mod edit: Murph - Embedded photos]