We’ve done several point to point installations, just bridging the last mile for customers that can’t get the local ISP to run or trench cable or can’t afford their insane costs for doing so. Generally these point to point installations link a single building to another building, acting as a wireless uplink for whatever equipment is at the remote site.
Recently our church built a multipurpose building on one corner of the campus that needs internet access for streaming media on the TV in the meeting space for small group meetings. Honestly the building is close enough to our main building that it could probably pick up some of the wireless bleeding outside of the main building’s walls and be good enough….if it weren’t a metal structure.
With the large roll up door open, some WiFi can be picked up inside the building, however, as soon as the door is shut — all connections go down. This is pretty typical behavior for metal structures, the metal siding and roofing basically creates something like a Faraday cage, blocking nearly all the radio signals above a certain frequency inside the structure. To get wireless inside the building, we either needed to run cable inside or have a wireless uplink to the building.
A few years ago we’d set up a nanoBeam PtP from our main building to a historic building next door that the church uses for adult education classrooms since there was no way to bore under the concrete driveway to run cable. The picture above was from that first installation – the building with the metal roof has since been demolished, making room for the new multipurpose building.
Below you can see the other end of the nanoBeam point to point.
The nanoBeam’s are technically a little overkill for this distance, but we wanted to make sure we had enough available bandwidth over the link to support 40-50 users when the building was fully occupied.
With the new building completed, we decided to set up a point-to-multipoint network to bridge the adult education building and the new multipurpose building to the main church building. We already had an exit hole through the brick and cinder block where the original nanoBeam was mounted, so we decided to use that existing hole and run some burial rated shielded CAT6 ethernet with a drain wire over the top of the building to a corner of the main church building where both buildings could have clear line of sight.
For the multipoint access point, we decided to use the Ubiquiti LiteAP AC 120, a super lightweight and compact all in one sector radio and antenna. Since the nanoBeams were still perfectly functional, they would both become the station AP’s for the multipoint network.
We mounted the sector AP on the back corner of the building and connected the two station AP’s to it.
Once they were connected we were getting around 400mbps throughput on each leg of the multipoint network. Inside the new multipurpose building we mounted an 8 port UniFi switch and an UniFi Mesh AP for some good omnidirectional coverage (since there was no where to ceiling mount a UniFi AP).
This project was extremely affordable, the drain wire cable (which is required – with shielded connectors to maintain the warranty on the equipment) was probably the most expensive part. And now we have AppleTV’s, Smart TV’s, iPads and a bunch of other devices connected in both buildings with no issues!