Non-Line of Sight Neighborhood Cells

before we get started I just want to take a moment to thank mikrotik for putting on the mom if you’ve ever put on one of these kinds of events before I can tell you it’s a lot of work and if everything goes smoothly nobody notices if something bad happened everybody notices so maybe just a quick round of applause to thank them for putting this event on for us so is everybody enjoying themselves so far yeah lots of good good presentations all right my name is Steve Disher and I’m from College Station Texas anyone know where College Station is no I didn’t think so what about Texas a few okay all right well Texans speak English but we have a little bit different English we didn’t think there were enough words in the English language so we added some so if you think you hear things like howdy that means hello yonder that could be right there or it can mean way over there it just depends on the enunciation that we use we also say things like y’all does anybody know what y’all means why a apostrophe ll it’s a contraction that we created to make our language faster and it means you all or you guys or you collectively so I’ll try not use howdy y’all or yonder so that you might be able to understand my presentation better so I’m from the US and Texas as you can see is kind of one of the most southern states Texas was always the largest state until we admitted Alaska into the United States which made a lot of Texans angry because now we’re not the biggest state anymore we just act like we’re the biggest state and I live in College Station which is about halfway between Houston and Dallas so it’s it’s hot there and humid it’s actually a pretty good place for wireless because we don’t have mountains a little bit about me first of all I operate a wisp been in business for about two years been doing wireless longer than that but just finally decide to get into the wisp market about two years ago today we have about 350 subscribers we’re adding about 20 subscribers a month and I have a daytime job as well to support my wireless habit and it takes so it’s kind of like a drug habit you have to have a lot of money to support it and I do sales for a Tier four data center in Bryan Texas we have about 17,000 feet of raised floor space and my responsibility is to keep that space full one of the other things I do with my wisp activity is that since I have access to a lot of bandwidth I sell bandwidth to other wisp the largest one that I sell bandwidth to has about 1200 customers today and I’m also a micro tech instructor and consultant and my little company is learn micro tech comm you can see us on the web incidentally our data center is fiber town comm all right so how many people in the room do we have that are doing a point-to-multipoint Wireless okay of those how many of you are using 2.4 gigahertz all right how many using 5.8 about the same number what about 900 megahertz okay well no hands that’s good we might actually have some new material for you today as you know if you’re using Wireless conventional unlicensed 802 dot 11 2 4 5 8 whatever the frequency typically requires line of sight between the client and the access point there are of course some exceptions on some very short hops you can get by with possibly a tree or some other object between the two points but even though there are some exceptions for reliable links we typically need a dedicated line of sight in many areas where I’m from it takes at least a 50 or 60 foot structure to get the client antenna up high enough to clear the canopy the tree canopy most of our trees in Texas or at least Southeast Texas where I live our oak trees they average about 45 feet in height and if you don’t get over the oak trees you don’t get acceptable signal so you’re looking at a somewhere between a forty and fifty maybe sixty foot structure to get over the tree canopy so that gives us some options to get over the canopy first of all is a telescoping mast does everyone know what I’m talking about with a

telescoping mast I see a lot of heads okay I see a lot of frowns too because you’ve got experience putting up telescoping masts they are a royal pain in the rear end there are a lot of work to put up a lot of work to maintain and incidentally they can become very expensive because of the labor that’s required and they’re also kind of ugly another option is bracketed towers I’m talking about like a roan Tower we have a lot of Rome towers in the u.s bracketed off to some substantial structure whether it be a house or a barn another option is a guide tower again a tower with a foundation and guy-wires that hold it erect and in position and then the last option would be a well not the last for the next to last option would be a freestanding tower and then finally some available structure maybe a silo a very tall house steeple on a church some other tall structure now one thing Texans are and that is very industrious about where we mount our antennas now this is not my aunt and I’m going to show you it’s one of my competitors but they thought the top of a tree would be a great place to mount an antenna it’s not a very good picture I took it with my iPhone going home one Eve but you can see in the yellow arrow they got a piece of pipe bolted to a branch and a 2/4 grid on top so you know it’s not too bad we do what we have to do right first of all talking about the different types of towers telescoping mast they can be very expensive and labor-intensive if you’ve ever put one up it’s not easy especially a 50 footer when you get done it looks kind of about like that usually kind of a banana shape it’s really hard to get them straight and then you have the added problem of the maintenance if you have a windstorm any kind of a weather event you’re gonna have some that get knocked down or at least guy wires break they’re unsightly they’re expensive to maintain and they may be prohibited by homeowners associations I don’t know about your other countries that all of you are from but especially in the US and Texas most certainly homeowners associations are very powerful they have the ability if you don’t abide with their covenants by keeping your grass mowed and you know 2.5 trees in your yard they have the ability to basically sue you and take your house from you if you don’t abide by their covenants so they’re very powerful especially in Texas and most of them do not allow towers or wireless gear mounted where it could be seen on the outside of the house so that presents a real challenge for for the wisp and then finally the incremental cost that’s involved with telescoping mast any time a customer has a problem with the radio you’ve got to send a crew of at least two guys out there lure that thing all the way down replace the radio put it back up and repoint it so there’s an incremental cost and typically customers don’t want to pay a service fee for you to come out and service that mast they think it’s a cost that you ought to bear so the average cost in the u.s. for a 50 foot telescoping mast averages about 300 to erect one that includes the materials as well as the labor that’s involved so next I want to talk about bracketed guide or freestanding towers just like telescoping masks they’re expensive and they’re labor-intensive to install they can also be unsightly and we get a lot of comments from homeowners that are concerned that somehow this tower this mass is going to attract lightning to their house okay so that concerns people especially country people that are most of the ones that I serve and again they may be prohibited by the homeowners association and the average cost for a 50-foot Rohn Tower installed in the u.s is about $1,500 so I want to propose to you today a solution I’ve spent quite a bit of our time already talking about problem definition now I want to talk about one solution that we found and that is non line-of-sight equipment operating in the 900 megahertz spectrum 900 megahertz as unlicensed frequency has been around for a while I think some of the original wave land cards used 900 but it really didn’t gain popularity until ubiquity came out with their ex are all right I think at the time as the sr9 card and now they have the X bar nine those cars are fully supported by mikrotik and together they make a really

decent non-line of sight platform at a low price point as you may know lower frequencies have the ability to cut through some amount of foliage that will allow you to mount the device below the tree canopy and not have to put up a mast or a tower at the customer location well with this new solution there there comes some trade-offs as well as some advantages one advantage that we mentioned is the 900 penetrates the foliage better than 2 4 or 5 8 so that’s one advantage now 900 will not penetrate hills or mountains ok when it first came out we were told that we’d be able to shoot through you know Stone Mountain and get signal and that has not been my particular experience if someone is doing that I’d like to hire them to come to work for me because I would certainly have a lot more customers they will not penetrate miles and miles of foliage okay you can’t shoot through the Sam Houston National Forest in Texas and expect to get signal out the other side it’s just not going to happen and nine-hundred brings about all new sources of interference that we never thought were before possible and I have a little say and and I wish this was original but I robbed it from a friend of mine it is most problems are the results of a previous solution so if you’re in IT you’ve seen that before okay customer needs a new solution you go got the solution for them the next day they’re calling you and say well that works great but now my bla doesn’t work anymore okay so with a 900 we have new solutions but we also induce new problems so a quick review about what I call legacy Wi-Fi and that is things operating in the – for spectrum for instance – for experiences interference from cordless phones wireless home routers that just about everyone has now and we’ve even had instances where we have – for CPEs at customer locations and they have a – for router and now their router on channel 6 is interfering with their CPE baby monitors there’s some 2.4 gigahertz baby monitors sold in the US other ISPs that’s probably my largest source of interference is other ISPs that have been in business for a while who have a lot of to four customers out there so with this new solution comes some new challenges first of all 900 also suffers from interference from cordless phones baby monitors other ISP especially those running Motorola canape Motorola camping 900 uses most the spectrum and if anyone’s running canape near you you’re going to have interference problems another form of interference is SCADA SCADA stands for supervisory control and data acquisition and systems they’re used by utility companies in the u.s oilfield service companies in our area a lot of people running SCADA over 900 on the same unlicensed frequencies that were allowed to use also paging companies so what we have to do is to adapt to this new solution mistake number one and I hear this from anyone that tries 900 and I’m guilty of it myself we thought that we could simply add a 900 access point next to our existing 2.4 and 5.8 APs on our 300-foot towers and serve all the customers that we couldn’t serve before ok it’s not true you can’t do that and there’s some good reasons for that the 900 carries a long ways so when you put a 900 access point on 300-foot tower you’re going to pick up miles and miles and miles of interference we tried it we even tried horizontal polarity hoping we’d knock out some of that some of that competition for spectrum and it still didn’t work if we got 5 600 K throughput to one client that was pretty good so that is not a solution if you thought you had interference issues with 2 4 wait till you try 900 so adapting to the new solution first of all what we recommend is mitigating interference from external sources and I’m gonna show you how we do that and have done it very effectively secondly mitigating interference from internal sources what I mean by internal is your own network as you start putting up these 900 megahertz towers pretty soon you’re interfering with yourself so you’ve got all the external sources of interference that you can’t control you have the internal sources that are your own and those are the only ones you can really

control this is an old cartoon Pogo is the name of the cartoon and says we have met the enemy and he is us so sometimes we can be our own worst enemy especially with the 900 third thing is maintain low cost of entry for customers if we double triple or quadruple the cost of turning up customers it’s not really a benefit to using the 900 and it also allows us to operate in areas where homeowners restrictions may prohibit the use of towers or mass so specifically what I want to talk about is what I call neighborhood cells neighborhood cells utilize conventional or existing tower infrastructure unlicensed or license links to to backhaul bandwidth into neighborhoods so the concept is to use your existing wireless infrastructure as a backhaul so using sector antennas or ApS that have multi-point clients on them and then using that as a backhaul or a repeater to get the signal into a neighborhood and then redistributing that signal using the 900 on a much smaller cell we used the non line-of-sight frequencies for our access layer within the neighborhood in this particular design I’m going to be describing tracts the three layer hierarchical model that is a network model with a core layer a distribution layer and an access layer the benefit of using our existing Wi-Fi infrastructure as your distribution layer means that you don’t have to build new backhauls to support these new neighborhood cells you can use your existing infrastructure and then the low-cost infrastructure I’m going to describe to you today then becomes the access layer for the customers so here’s what I’m talking about everything from the center of this diagram over is your existing infrastructure you have some connection to the internet some kind of core or gateway routing infrastructure some existing tower in this case five gigahertz that we’re using for customer connections to that AP but now we bring into the picture this neighborhood fill we use our existing point-to-multipoint access point to backhaul our bandwidth in and then redistribute it using 900 within the smaller neighborhood pre simplistic concept but the proper execution according to the lessons we’ve learned may be the key to your success and getting it right the first time so let’s talk about the equipment itself because that’s why we’re all here is to talk about mikrotik the distribution layer is your existing point-to-multipoint Wi-Fi gear typically 5/8 is what we use 5 3 5 8 because of the higher throughputs that are available and also the additional channels our network is all mikrotik we don’t use any other product primarily because they’re reliable but also because we run the end stream protocol for all our point-to-multipoint instrum has a lot of benefits and it also restricts you to only using the microsoft product because it is a proprietary protocol but we believe that that restriction is well worth the benefit that we get we operate all of our access points typically on water towers because we have contracts with the local water company it’s a very good platform a good place to work we have a good working relationship with them and then we use 5 gigahertz either license unlicensed or we have a few license links to backhaul to our data center where we get our connection to the internet and that’s our distribution layer next the access layer missing the letter in I finished my presentation after a couple of beers last night and I don’t think i spell-checked very well but the access layer is specifically the neighborhood tower and the CPE we use the ubiquity 900 card with the mikrotik as the we use a 900 megahertz omni antenna before you start groaning about omni’s omni’s are bad omni’s are bad with 2 4 & 5 8 when you try and use them in a large area but they’re very effective in a neighborhood cell where you can shield them from external sources of interference we use an integrated panel antenna with the ubiquity 900 card and the mikrotik 411 as our CPE and finally that’s what I’ve already showed you but that’s what the

infrastructure looks like specifically the combinations for the tower our router board 433 with an XR 9 card and we use the comet 9.2 DB Omni and I will be putting this presentation up on the wiki so if you want to look at some of this equipment there you feel free to do so for our backhaul we use the same 433 board we only used one board on these neighborhood cells we don’t need two boards one is plenty powerful we put two cards in the board we’ve been used as either an XR 5 or our 52 as our our backhaul radio and then we use the XR 9 and the same router board as our our local 900 radio currently we’re using the arc wireless 23 DB panel antenna which has an integrated enclosure on the rear of the antenna they work very well for these backhaul applications and they’re at the customer location we’re currently using the arc wireless 12.5 DB integrated antenna again the X bar 9 card and the router board 411 so let’s talk about the tower itself where we’re actually going to mount this gear the most cost-effective thing you can do is find somebody who may be in the neighborhood who has an existing television tower don’t particularly want to use a 50-foot mast but if they have a roan or a self-supporting tower of some kind it makes a great place to to put your gear it has the lowest cost of entry you can typically trade space on the tower for internet service to that particular customer and we do that quite a bit we I don’t think have ever paid a customer for use of their tower we just swap the internet service to them gives you the fastest rate of deployment and you may find subdivisions or neighborhood areas where these structures have been grandfathered in grandfathering is a term that means the structure was already there the subdivision was built later and so the people don’t have to take it down and they don’t have to comply with that particular homeowners restriction another opportunity that we’ve taken advantage of is an area where there’s not an existing structure to locate our gear and we’ve built a small self-supporting tower there you can purchase in the US a 70-foot self-supporting tower for about eight hundred dollars they’re not terribly difficult to erect and we can usually swap a ground lease space to the landowner for Internet service disadvantage you do have a higher cost of entry takes longer to put this tower up and to utilize an existing tower but you do have a better choice of location you might be able to get a location that is exactly in the center of the area you’re trying to serve and that that’s a great location so here’s what the final configuration looks like router bore 433 with a 5 gigahertz XR 5 card or an AR 52 card and that’s your backhaul and then a 900 megahertz with an omni antenna here’s the picture or an example of one of the installations that we’ve done the yellow arrow shows the omni antenna the 900 megahertz omni the green arrow shows the 5 gigahertz backhaul antenna now one thing you’re going to notice is the backhaul is actually a lot lower than the Omni this house had no trees between the house and our Tower and so there was really no reason to climb any higher with that 5/8 so in this particular scenario we use the weatherproof enclosure and I’ll show you what our enclosures look like in a moment and we ran LMR down to the back hall and LMR coax up to the omni antenna so this is a situation where the homeowner just allowed us to use their tower as a trade for Internet service here’s another one this one’s a little bit different at the top is the 5/8 backhaul I’m not a very good photographer if you can’t figure that out all my pictures are taken with my cell phone someday I’ll have a nice camera and then the yellow arrow shows the omni antenna which is kind of on the back side a little bit hard to see and then that grid that does not have an arrow pointing to it is actually our competitors antenna that they just haven’t been out to pick up yet since we had them cancel service with them so here’s what the inside of our typical

enclosure looks like we we take a lot of time in designing these and building them so that they come out neat and orderly things last longer and are more reliable when you do them at a neat and a good craftsmanship like manner point out some of the things in this box first of all the enclosure itself is about 24 by 24 inches it is a NEMA enclosure meaning it’s a rain tied enclosure it’s not waterproof but it is rain tight the big black box that says remote reboot is our standard remote reboot device that device is about a hundred and twenty dollars u.s. it’s worth a million dollars to me if I don’t have to go to a tower in the middle of the night and reboot it manually it has the ability to control all eight of the outlet using a web browser interface and it will also ping a remote host and if that host does not reply it will reboot the devices that are connected to the outlets so that’s money well spent also you see on the left hand side a standard UPS and right in the center is the P OE and then in this particular scenario this is a neighborhood cell that we put in an industrial location and our primary customer or the land owner was a business and part of the deal was that they asked that we put up a wireless bridge to one of their other buildings and they supplied a Cisco Bridge and we installed it for them as part of the swap for letting us use their Tower so all of this is well and good but if we don’t plan on mitigating interference we’re still going to have problems so what we do is we typically use the top of the tower to shoot over the canopy as our backhaul up around the 50 or 60 foot level but then the trick if you will is to place the Omni at or just below treetop level all right all of your customers are going to be shooting through foliage anyway that’s that’s what we’re trying to be able to accomplish here so by getting the Omni just below tree level you’re at the point in the trees where the foliage is the thinnest but you also get the effect of shielding that Omni from interference coming from outside the neighborhood and this also provides the the shortest length of the shot through the foliage I’ll show you what I mean by that in a moment so here’s a diagram on the left-hand side we see the the cpe and we typically can mount these on a chimney or a bracket on the roof of the house and then the cpe is aimed at the tower and shooting through the tops of the trees the rest of the trees in the area actually give you some shielding from inner ference that’s coming into the area so it has a double effect now we’re all in this to make money that’s we’re not just doing this because it’s fun or we enjoy the the exercise so I want to talk about return on investment and the economics that are involved with using a neighborhood cell versus a typical tower infrastructure like we’re used to using first of all faster return on investment conventional large-scale point-to-point are point-to-multipoint towers vs neighborhood cells the neighborhood cell is going to have a faster ROI so let’s describe that for a minute the conventional distribution tower model typically employs at least three access points on 120 degree sectors to serve a 360 degree area that’s what most of us are typically used to doing depending on the technology the rates delivered to the customers and other factors we typically don’t use more than 40 or 50 clients per access point now that’s really a end stream dictated number but forty to fifty with the kind of bandwidth we supply is is really a maximum that’s where we want to be so if you assume 50 clients per AP and three a piece it’s a hundred and fifty clients per Tower each of those clients would require a line of sight of course because this is two four or five eight gigahertz and based on our experience between 35 and 60 percent of the site surveys that we do we cannot serve so somewhere between 35 and 60 percent of your customer base is not servable by a conventional approach the capital

investment for a tower assuming typical construction cost a 200-foot Tower with 3 5 gigahertz ApS tower labor and materials is about 10,000 us the sector antenna is about 600 dollars total 750 for radios 900 for backhaul antenna and electronics we’ve got some miscellaneous things so a total capital investment for a conventional tower built from the ground up in a green field is about twelve thousand eight hundred and fifty dollars that takes your average cost per client if you’re 75 percent full and typically we’re not a hundred percent full to about a hundred and fourteen dollars per client now that’s not counting the CPE our CPEs are typically covered by the customer as an install charge so our cost to serve 150 customers is about one hundred and fourteen dollars per customer with a typical tower infrastructure best-case scenario for a neighborhood cell would be a customer with an existing TV tower we always install an electrical outlet next to the tower we had thoughts in the beginning about not spending the 200 or so dollars to install our own outlet we became fearful that if we were to plug the thing in inside the house that grandmother when she goes to vacuum the floor would unplug our tower and take down 20 customers so it’s cheaper in our opinion to have an electrician install your own outlet therefore your dedicated use so that’s about $200 ap backhaul radio 350 900 Omni about 85 so a total capital investment for a neighborhood tower eleven hundred and twenty dollars now we are typically serving around 15 to 20 clients per tower so now we’ve gone from a hundred and something dollars to seventy four dollars per customer some other considerations a neighborhood cell gives you a higher rate of penetration into the market in a particular area due to number one reduced upfront cost reduce footprint at the customer location the aesthetics are much better for the 900 we’ve even put 900 CPEs inside of attics in people’s home and shoot through the shingles on the house the house there’s nothing visible outside ability to operate in areas with homeowners restrictions that may keep you from being able to put up a tower faster time-to-market so the summary of the cost conventional tower 114 dollars per client neighborhood sells seventy four dollars per client now the CPE cost is a little bit higher for the nine hundred because the cards cost more but typically we get that covered by the installation fee so here’s an example of one of our neighborhood cells this one’s been out for about a year now we’ve accumulated 15 clients all of these clients are non line-of-sight they’re all shooting through oak trees all the CPEs are mounted about 12 or 15 feet off the ground on the roof of the house and it looks like we got about one point two Meg’s of traffic on the tower right now we have 15 clients associated and the lowest signal strength of negate e5 which is well within the specifications of that particular radio card so in summary non-line of sight neighborhood cells can provide you with number one penetration into areas where you previously could not serve customers lower cost of entry costs us less money up front less money out of our pocket to deploy a cell lower build-out cost per client faster time-to-market you can beat your competitors into an area by utilizing existing structures the ability to mitigate interference and not have to put up with the interference because we’re mounting below the tree canopy and faster return on your capital investment so that’s all I have for you today if you like to contact me there’s my email address Steve at learn mikrotik comm our website is up there as well I appreciate the fact that you all stayed awake even after during a very good you know after a very good lunch today nobody fell asleep so that’s a good sign and I hope you enjoy the rest of the mum thank you very much Steve maybe somebody has a question for ya hello what about boundaries what is the bounds I see you delivered to your customers and the second question if you have this

an area of 15 to 20 clients what would be the maximum bandwidth you could deliver to your customers okay if you’ve used the 900 megahertz card before it is configured on the mikrotik as a 2.4 card that’s how it’s seen and so you have basically the same restrictions that you would with 802 11 B or 802 11 G we run all of ours in the B mode so the maximum throughput is somewhere around 3 megabits per second we’re selling 512 K 1 Meg and 1.5 Meg connections to our clients and we allocate that bandwidth using pppoe and radius and queues that get handed back by the radius server so you could put more than 15 clients that’s about all we’ve been able to get in a neighborhood though within about a 2 to 3 mile radius so does that yeah how much your clients pay for the installation of the Internet and what kind of hardwood you use ok our installation fee is a hundred and ninety nine dollars us in our lowest-priced service is forty nine ninety five a month and so upon installation the customer pays two hundred and fifty dollars that’s $1.99 for install plus their first month of service our equipment cost for the CPE on the 900 megahertz is about two hundred and fifty dollars so we really don’t make any money the first month but after that we do we’re profitable and you asked about what equipment we use of course all mikrotik the XR 9 card and the Ark Wireless integrated 12.5 DB panel antenna and apoe4 questions in the USA you don’t use 900 megahertz for a cell phone mobile phone it is great for four years 900 megahertz yes yes yes it’s an unlicensed frequency in the US because in some countries they use it for mobile phones also at least they used to do it Oh as another source of interference yes yes true okay more questions please okay so thank you very much Steve thank you