UPDATE: We have ordered the radios and antennas for OPTION 2, the 3/4G WiFi relay. We are raising funds for the equipment to power the station. We have
$255 $155 $55 to go (as of July 21, 2015). Contributions can be made via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org
I am currently stuck upriver near @glennh's camp because there is no communications capability at Node One. In an ideal world, no communications technology would be great! Unfortunately, organizing and building this group/community takes some communications technology in our current reality.
There is no cell service or any grid services (cable, phone, power) at Node One. Due to the remote location, getting contractors and equipment to the property is not an easy task. Because of this, DIY solutions and systems comprised of small components are preferred.
There is cell signal available from the bluffs/hills to the East, and cell towers are in clear view on hills that direction, something like 30+ miles away LOS.
Satellite internet is available through HughesNet's older system.
This affords 3 options.
1. Installing a satellite system on the property itself, and relaying WiFi locally.
2. Creating a 3/4G cellular relay link from a comm station we'd set up on the hills, which would establish a point-to-point WiFi link to a base station at Node One. WiFi would then be relayed locally. This would provide internet on the land, and phone calls could be made via internet (Skype, Google Voice, etc.)
3. 3/4G Cellular repeater/booster at the property itself (B in the image)
- Reliability. To the extent that's possible, HughesNet is a known quantity
- Proximity. System would be on Node One
- Slow-ish. Gen 4 Hughes system are not currently available in Alaska. Exede is likely unworkable
- 2-year contract
- Hard to move
EDIT: Reports about VOIP (Skype, Google Voice, Hangouts, etc.) over this satellite system are generally poor to not great. This may be a deal-breaker considering a 2-year contract lock-in
- Request: Satellite internet system [prefer used]
$10/mo equipment lease if you don't own equipment
$60/mo subscription and a 2-year contract
- Either $500+ professional installation,
- or a $250 self-install course in Fairbanks
3/4G Cell + WiFi
- Flexibility [Area]. System could be expanded or re-aimed to simultaneously hit other nodes in a 20+ mile radius
- Flexibility [Service]. Any SIM w/ data can be used for service. AT&T, T-Mobile, GCI (Alaska company), etc.
- No contracts and/or use existing contracts
- Remote. 2 miles and a hike if system requires maintenance
- Higher tech knowledge requirements (?)
- Remote battery and solar
Comm Station [Point A]
Base Station [Point B]
3/4G Cellular Repeater/Booster
- Simplicity. One piece of equipment
- Flexibility. If this works, anyone's cell phones and internet would work on the land.
- High risk to test. There's a good chance it won't work, and anything related to mailing or returning things is a weeks-months long production because of the location.
Currently, I am leaning toward the 3/4G + WiFi solution. I think the increased flexibility it provides set against the 2-year contract and additional fees required for satellite makes it a preferable. It seems to me that the 3/4G repeater system has a high likelihood of not working. Tests so far have shown zero signal at the property, and boosting zero signal is still zero signal.
also seems like a good choice seems like too high of a barrier (2-year contract) for something with speeds so slow that low-bandwidth services like Skype don't even work well., and more so if we had a couple more people pitching in $7-$19/mo.
In any case, the group's account is probably $200 shy of the initial purchase. Contributions toward solving this problem will be earmarked for this purpose. Please contribute here.
Thoughts? Questions? Alternatives?