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Mesh vs WISP

 
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ts_subs
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 2:04 pm    Post subject: Mesh vs WISP Reply with quote

Hi

I am trying to set up a wireless solution that will run 0n 802.11n speeds as I intend streaming educational and training videos to 200-300 subscribers.

In another forum I was told that a mesh network would break down under such a load, especially considering that I am trying to keep it affordable to my subscribers, and have instead been told to look at setting up a WISP with dedicated backhauls per AP.

Given that you folk are the mesh networking experts I was wondering if you could confirm this fact for me.
And if a mesh network would work under the conditions I require then could you kindly tell me what I would need to make it work?

Regards,
Tim
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foxtroop11
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suggest doing some manual labor in setting it up. Use the factory firmware or maybe dd-wrt on some of the new 802.11n UBNT stuff that is highly refined to run TDMA in their driver. The fastest robin mesh speeds I have seen are on the dual radio Anaptyx equipment with turbo cards in the 5ghz band, seen close to 60mbps with proper rssi to other nodes. You would be looking at about 26mbps max on the public ssid in the 2.4ghz band.
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harry_the_face
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The real question is are you streaming HD quality or lower and are you streaming to all customers simultaneously?
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ts_subs
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your prompt replies.
I would be streaming to individual subscribers on demand. I would love to do HD quality, but can that be done affordably? In the meantime though I won't be looking at HD.
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harry_the_face
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I and my customers stream movies from Netflix and Hulu.com over my mesh network with no problem. What I have found is that when watching a movie streaming, the initial buffer will spike to no more than 1.5 Mbps and then flatten out at 700 kbps for the duration of the movie. That is when I am on running bandwidth un-throttled. Most of my customers bandwidth is throttled at 1 Mbps then the initial is 950 kbps and then levels at 500 kbps.

You probably need to know how much bandwidth is used when streaming the video in question. You actually might have more problems finding an ISP that will allow that much usage (200-300 people all streaming movies).

Ideally is to use some Ubiquiti MIMO hardware that transfer 150 Mbps but doesn't have the flexibility of Robin mesh in my opinion. You would probably be fine with Robin but not if all customers were streaming at the same time (like a web conference).

Can you give more detail about what you are trying to accomplish?
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I live in a relatively poor area of South Africa where many students also reside. After having spent a few years serving these people in an internet cafe I have learned that, while they may have the latest cellphones, they are actually technophobic and quite ignorant of even basic computer protocol.
My primary aim is to create a community-based network to empower local individuals and small businesses.
Part of this will involve making training and educational video content available to the subscribers, but it is not the main focus.
Given my target base, I don't think I need to worry too much about rabid torrent usage or perpetual video streaming, but I do want to make reasonably sure that if and when people wish to view video they can do so without unbearable stuttering.
Web conferencing may take place, but only involve a few subscribers at any one time.

I agree wholeheartedly with you: I did look into creating a WISP, using the Ubiquiti range of products, but I have found the mesh idea to be more suited to my ultimate needs. I particularly like the fact that I can start out in a cost-effective manner and then scale it up by getting better hardware for my dedicated backhaul APs + the base station.

I know I must install the robin firmware on the client nodes, but I am unsure if I have to install it on the backhaul APs and the base station. Could you let me know if I must?

Regards,
Tim
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sbe
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think your best bet would be to use Ubiquiti devices as you backhaul, stock firmware, to feed multiple gatway's and running cluster's of smaller robin-mesh networks. 4meg throughput is the best I have seen in a best case scenario running Robin on a single hop repeater, carefull planning would be needed and even with that I'm not sure it will handle the kind of streaming you are looking to do. I would start small with a single Gateway and no more than (5) repeaters and do a small scale test.

To test all you would need to do is attach a flashed Mesh-node to your existing internet connection that is serving up DHCP and it will become a Gateway. The plug in the remote nodes, and they will come up as repeaters. The gateway mesh unit does not care how it gets it internet feed, wired, wireless backhaul, satellite, 3G, so the transport to the gateways is up to you. I would try to keep all mesh nodes limited to a single hop from a gateway if possible.

Ideally using Ubiquiti hardware on both sides, you then would have the option to revert back to the Ubiquiti firmware and use them as CPE's if the Mesh scenario does not offer the throughput you require.

An overview or map of the area you would be trying to cover would help, its hard to recommend without knowing the scale/distance/concentration of users. There is a trendous amount of information in this forum, but may require some searching.
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ts_subs
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks sbe, I have just ordered some ubiquiti products and will be doing as you suggested.

I will trawl this forum and the ubnt forum for more.

Regards,
Tim
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rconaway
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whether it's mesh or not is irrelevant to your design. For example, WDS is just basically manual mesh and is built into the Ubiquiti firmware. I have set up many WDS systems. Mesh has value if the routing protocol supports load-balancing (which many don't) but in reality of most installations, APs see 1-2 paths and those are fixed. Mesh has no value in 98% of the installed environments that it was actually installed in.

Now, if your environment is dynamic in terms of the APs moving around, then mesh has value. As for the load-balancing, simply monitor your network with some tool like TheDude or AirView and if you need more bandwidth, put it in as need requires.

Can I suggest reading "Tales from the Towers" on
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to cover the differences and methodologies on the difference in deployment strategies?
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minbari
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rconaway wrote:
......Mesh has no value in 98% of the installed environments that it was actually installed in.




I would disagree with you on one important part, and that is fault tolerance.

WDS is NOT manual mesh, unless you set the nodes up in router mode and also set all the routes up manually. this is alot of work, but can be done.

if you leave them in bridged mode, you have no fault tolderance at all.

example: if you have 4 nodes that are all in range of each other. we will call them node A,B,C,D.

A is the internet node (gateway)
B and C are repeaters.
D is a repeater, but not in range of A (so must go through B or C)

with WDS you would set up your network like this

A <-> B
A <->C
(you will, however, not want to set B <-> C , this will cause a network loop)

for D however you are gonna have to choose which repeater to run traffic through

if you go with B <->D then what happens if B goes down? you lose D too. you CANNOT set up WDS like this

A <-> B
A <->C
B <-> D
C <-> D

you will have a network loop and bring your network to a grinding halt.

with mesh you dont have that problem. if B goes down then D will use C, if C goes down D will use B.

I am not saying that mesh is the end-all be-all of network topologies, but WDS does not solve all those problems either. if you are using a point to multi-point setup as back haul, where only 2 radios can see each other at any given time, then WDS works well, since you cant mesh anyway.
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rconaway
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did not mean to imply that WDS can function like mesh and having 4 APs that can see each other for multiple routes is the 2% case, not the real world 98% case. Keep in mind that in most metropolitan deployments, radios are mounted below building or tree heights. This kills modulation levels. The dirty secret for most mesh networks is that after they are up, operators define the best path and make that the priority path.

The reason for the lower density is so that the APs don't interfere with each other. So, either you have enough APs close enough in a municipal environment to interfere with each other and the cost is notw $150K per square mile (not realistic), or the APs are spread out far enough so that if they are at the end of the chain, the see 1 other AP or in the middle in which case they see 2 APs, in an out. They usually don't see parallel paths because $50K per square mile is a whole easier to sell to investors or recoup an investment than $150K per square mile that eventually just interferes with itself.

So, I'm back to my original premise, in the real world, WDS works just as well as mesh for 98% of the installations.
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robgmann
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

...dirty little secret indeed!
My network has so many trees and indirect LOS that I started using ROBIN simply to let each repeater find its own best path to the internet. I do find that ROBIN has optimized those routes and required almost no effort in the wireless setup on my part. I don't experience in wireless configuration to optimize each of those links manually nor to maintain them. (that's my dirty little secret)
When I started my ROBIN network, there was 1 gateway and a repeater on each subscriber's roof. Many users with 2-3 hops to the gateway. As my network grew, I found the weak spots and added backbone/gateways to reduce it to 1-hop for 90% of the users. So now, fixed wireless would be a fine option, but would require re-flashing and configuring every node
just fine.
In short, ROBIN saved me a lot of the upfront cost of buying lots of backbone hardware and allowed me to build out the network 1 repeater at a time.
Back to the original post - with 1 hop to the gateway and relatively good RSSI, I am seeing 8-12mbps on the majority of the nodes. The local backbone has plenty of bandwidth (40-50mbps) but my ISP is still a bottleneck.
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rconaway
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most mesh networks are deployed in city and higher density suburban environments. In those situations, the mesh doesn't really matter because the paths are blocked by buildings, not trees. Since most APs don't have a multipath option, WDS works just as well. You have the more unique environment where buildings aren't the issue, just vegetation.

Every system I design has some unique properties that make me look at a specific model. I just find that mesh doesn't fit most of them any longer unless I need some specific feature like fast handoff. The real problem is that most mesh hardware manufacturers are way behind the rest of the industry. There is very little 2x2 MIMO mesh products yet Ubiquiti has a whole product line. Now, if Robin gets running where I can use a 2.4GHz Bullet 2M and still used 3 5.8GHz Nanos on my backhaul on the same pole and the system supports fast handoff, I'm on board bigtime.
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Antonio (isleman)
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
.Now, if Robin gets running where I can use a 2.4GHz Bullet 2M and still used 3 5.8GHz Nanos on my backhaul on the same pole and the system supports fast handoff, I'm on board bigtime.


Robin2-802.11n is in testing on Ubiquiti M2/5 series.
Moreover I'm also testing at an Italian WISP a full solution "tower-CPE-Robin" which is totally managed by a dedicated MySQL server (ie dashboard): every component of the chain (distribution devices in towers, CPEs and Robin nodes) checkins and performs autoprovisioning. The CPEs are also in mesh - if in LOS - in case of one of them loose its distribution, ad-hoc mesh works as a fallback internet access.

The testbed consists of :
    distributions: 2 Rocket-M5 + 2 Bullet-M5 + 2 Nanostation-M5
    CPEs: 4 NanoStation-M5 + 4 Bullet-M5 + 1 Alix-2C2 (first radio for CPE, second radio for Robin)
    Robin2 gateways: 2 Bullet-M2 wired to the second ethernet port of the NS-M5s
    Robin gateway: OM1P wired to the same switch of one Bullet-M5
    Robin backhauled gateway: second radio of the Alix-2C2


You can already test Robin2

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while the "full" system will be hopefully released in november (after the ubnt AirMax Conference in Rome).
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Antonio (isleman)
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Forgot to mention that distribution devices run an AirOS-patched firmware (so web gui is still working for local arrangements).
Just a couple of snapshots from MySQL RobDb database:

CPEs checkins

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distributions checkins

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Uploaded with

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sankofa
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

IMHO either type of deployment has its place, however using a multiple radio solution, be it a single device with 2 or more radios in it or 2 devices connected back-to-back with an ethernet cable will give you the most throughput in your network. One or more radios are dedicated to the mesh links or WDS links while the other is dedicated to serving the clients. The initial investment of this type of deployment may be higher, however it sure is great to see happy end users. I have learnt the hard way. I have both types of deployment in the field, with the Anaptyx radios (MESH) and UBNT (WDS), I am about to try Antonio's 2 radio Alix solution. My suggestion before to put out the first device, pull up an excel spreadsheet and do the math, make sure it makes business sense. (unless it is a hobby)
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2010 8:44 am    Post subject: 108mbps mesh using RouterStation Pro Reply with quote

One option for faster throughput is to use RouterStation Pro with OpenWRT which includes the 802.11s mesh protocol, it also allows for use of Ubiquiti MIMO products.
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