Manual for starting a local wireless broadband network

Wally Bowen, executive director of the Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN) in Asheville, North Carolina, has written a primer on how to deploy a local wireless broadband network for people. Wally speaks from experience. MAIN is an ISP that serves hundreds of wireless subscribers spread out over four counties. In the primer, Bowen includes details on cost of equipment, the amount of bandwidth needed to serve hundreds of customers, blending fiber and wireless and more.

Here is an excerpt from the primer:

“A more complex model is the nonprofit Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN) in Asheville, N.C.  MAIN has four full-time technical staff (network director, assistant ND, webmaster, and tech support) and several part-time wireless installers who work as needed.  This tech staff is supported by a part-time receptionist and part-time billing/bookkeeper, and full-time executive director (who is mainly focused on policy advocacy and fundraising).  This staff supports about 500 wireless subscribers over a four-county network (three rural counties plus the city of Asheville and environs). This staff also support 1,200 local and national dial-up subscribers, more than 400 webhosting clients, and a low-power FM radio station. The LPFM station has a full-time manager who receives IT support from our network staff and financial management/fundraising support from non-technical staff. “

MAIN is banding together with non-profit fiber optic broadband operators in the region to apply for a grant from the broadband stimulus program.

To read the primer go to how-to manual for organizations that want to deploy a wireless broadband network.

NOTE: As more Wi-Fi equipment vendors incorporate the 802.11N standard with MIMO (Multiple In, Multiple Out) smart antenna technologies into both indoor and outdoor wireless access points, wireless ISPs can now create large outdoor networks at a reasonable cost. See Ken Biba’s article: The King is Dead, Long Live the King: 802.11n dramatically improves Wi-Fi outdoors

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