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Land-Based Communications

Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs)

Wireless Internet Service Providers are common in more rural and remote areas of the US where Cell Phone, or wired internet access is unavailable. They are simply put a secure wireless internet connection similar to what one would use in the home, but with a more powerful transmit antenna. In most cases the primary connection is either a microwave link from an area where hardwired access is available, or a shared satellite internet connection, as is the case in most of rural Alaska where PBO has many stations. Due to the remote nature of these WISP networks the level of maintenance and therefore reliability of the connection varies quite a lot between different locations. Despite this they can sometimes be an attractive alternative to a stand alone VSAT and can be worked with in locations where there are no other options and a VSAT solution is not workable and/or is not practical.

The majority of WISPs that are currently deployed in the PBO project are in the Alaska Region in remote locations where they are the only viable option for data transfer. All of these WISPs are operated by a single wireless provider GCI. GCI, as is typical with WISP providers, has in some locations provided great service and in others it has been very intermittent. Even where connections are reliable, data transfer rates are quite slow and we are limited to collecting daily files from stations with no option for streaming.

The GCI WISP hardware that has been used in Alaska consists of a combination antenna and receiver. There is no separate power supply, since the device is powered by 12 volt power over Ethernet. In a normal consumer installation the entire unit is placed outside and an Ethernet cable is run inside to a computer for internet access. In our installation we have modified the WISP to use an external high gain yagi antenna that can be oriented directly towards the access point for a better connection. Additionally, we have found that putting them on a reset timer that actually activates the reset function of the WISP as well as power cycling the unit has helped with long term reliability. The timer must be set to reset the unit several times a day for this to work well. They run on 12V DC power and fit easily into a standard PBO metal enclosure box, or hut.


For more information about land-line modem communication technologies, please see the UNAVCO Knowledge Base on Dail-up Landline Modem Summary.


Last modified: 2019-12-24  01:47:06  America/Denver