Last Post: April 24:
I have a project to deploy outdoor Wi-Fi to cover a particular town. Are there any planning tools available for this type of planning ? The Wi-Fi signal is expected to be available in homes as well as in the street. I know a couple of Wi-Fi planning tools for indoor applications like Ekahau, AirMagnet and iBwave.
Trying to get Wi-Fi signal from outdoor APs to users inside buildings is futile. It might work on a tropical island where the buildings are bamboo huts. I live in Finland where buildings are well insulated. Anyways, practically all buildings are somehow cabled: fibre or at least copper POTS cabling. Use the cabling to provide Wi-Fi for indoor users (or let them set it up themselves).
Providing outdoor Wi-Fi all over town is challenging enough. I don't know if there are any tools for that, it is not that common undertaking. If there are not many users you can create large cells, but then you need to account for the landscape contours. If there are many users you will be limited by the maximum number of users in a cell.
Start with providing Wi-Fi where people are likely to use it: in parks where people may want to browse the net, near sights and attractions where people will want to post on social media, in crowded places where people need directions and bus/railway stations where people need timetables and route info. After those you can grow the coverage area as needed and you have gained experience with your gear and network traffic patterns.
Thanks for your response Petri.
For some intents and purposes iBwave also handles outdoor installations, for example big indoor/outdoor hotel setups. I would talk to them to see if they have a product that matches your needs.
I have been very impressed with all of their presentations and whitepapers.
Best advice I can offer is after deploying 1000s of AP in high density CBDs for public wifi ...
Often the constraint is where can I mount the AP, what infrastructure is available with both power and fibre.
concur - dont try and penetrate into homes as only 2.4 will achieve this but badly, dont think about how far you can push a signal, more how well you can hear a signal (a lesser powered mobile device) and if you can hear it using larger gain, you will probably hear every cheap wifi modem in the street too running 80GHz channels.
- push for WiFi zones as opposed to ubiquitous coverage as easier to meet end user expectations
- no more than 1 mesh hop
- use the physical infrastructure (buildings) to assist roaming ie. keep AP's back away from intersections (planning tools will not teach you this)
- If meshing AP's mount them 5-6m so trucks/busses etc dont cause excessive dropouts when traffic is heavy
- If mounting on street lights, check first they have 24hr power ;-) (often one PE cell will run a string of lights)
- preserve air time by using small antenna, 7dBi@5GHz imho hear to much, ~4dBi is good
- keep power levels low (you want to be close to the same power as the client but loud enough a neigbouring AP hears you and moves to another channel)
- band steer to 5GHz and run 2.4GHz only on every second AP (if contractually committed to offer 2.4GHz, otherwise turn it off!)
- turn on ipv6! 30%+ of traffic will use it, saves on NAT load, easier LI etc
A lot of good points AJ.
I would also point out that a lot of outdoor lighting is NOT 110 AC. You may be spending more on power supplies than you originally planned.
Ventev-Terrwave carries many outdoor solutions.
I agree that the idea may be quite good for open areas, parks, but certainly not for such modern, well-isolated homes.