Outdoor Wi-Fi: outdoor Wi-Fi networks and bridges with TP-Link equipment

    The construction of street wireless networks and communication channels can hardly be called a simple task, which can be solved with the help of conventional access points designed for indoor use. Such networks, as a rule, require very specific equipment, which, among other things, must have a case protected from external influences and specific software (for example, the Pharos Control management utility ).

    In this article, we will share our experience and talk about the features of building just such networks based on TP-Link equipment : Pharos and Auranet lines.

    In the arsenal of the company there are two lines of "street" performance, which significantly differ from each other in capabilities and tasks.

    Ruler Auranet more focused on the use in corporate networks with the ability to cover not only the premises, but also the street space, thus extending the main network on the street (CAP series, EAP series).

    CAP300-Outdoor N300 Outdoor Wi-Fi access point TP-Link, CAP series, Auranet line

    In addition to the standalone mode, when each access point provides all the functionality independently, Auranet supports centralized management, in which access points are only responsible for data transfer, and all control fully provides the controller (for example, controllers for the CAP series ). Using the free software controller for the EAP series(by the way, and for Linux too), you can build very large networks of up to 500 access points. In essence, Auranet is a line of devices for creating stable networks for mobile clients. Such networks are often deployed in large companies, shopping centers, hotels, transport, public places, and manageability is at the center of the corner.

    Another line of devices - Pharos - focuses on completely different scenarios that relate to interconnectivity: a point-to-point, point-to-multipoint, and WISP (Wi-Fi Internet connection) connections. As a rule, in these cases, pairs of devices are installed in the line of sight and use either powerful internal or external directional antennas.

    WBS510 5 GHz 300 Mbps Wi-Fi Outdoor Base Station TP-Link, WBS Series, Pharos Line

    The diagram below shows the connection of two networks using a point-to-point (P2P) connection. For such a connection, it is enough to install outdoor Pharos equipment (outdoor Wi-Fi access points of the CPE series, external Wi-Fi base stations of the WBS series) within the working radius (up to 50 km), configure the connection, connect the Pharos devices to the LAN switches and set the basic network settings, after which clients on one network (Point B) will gain access to another network (Point A) and the Internet. A nice bonus of this scenario is the lack of the need for structural changes to the network configuration, here you can do without additional routers, switches and other equipment.

    The following diagram describes a point-to-multipoint (P2MP) connection, which differs from the previous one in that several others are connected to one central device. The diagram shows that a network is being created using the base station in the center and client access points are connected to it. To improve the quality of coverage in such cases, external sector antennas are often used at the central base station, and simply directional antennas at the client ones. The formed channels can be used to transfer any type of data between the local area networks thus connected.

    Another diagram describes a typical internet connection using Pharos CPE210 and WBS210 equipment.. Such a connection is relevant, for example, when cable providers are unavailable. In the vast territories of our country there are a lot of such places. As a rule, in such cases, especially if the distance is significant, along with access points / routers, directional parabolic antennas (plates) are used, which are installed on the client side and on the provider side, are directed at each other and allow connections at a distance of 40 kilometers or more .

    TL-ANT2424MD 2.4 GHz 24 dBi 2x2 MIMO parabolic antenna TP-Link, Pharos line.

    Often clients combine scenarios, and you get an option similar to the one shown in the diagram below, when the wireless channel is used to connect to the provider and the wireless channels are used to connect the central network node to remote points.

    In our practice, based on the Pharos equipment, complexes are often created for the construction of core networks or remote access networks at sufficiently large distances, up to 40-50 kilometers with direct visibility. It can be both networks of large enterprises, and networks of providers.

    Russian realities make it very careful to choose equipment for street use. Weather conditions can hardly be called friendly to the electronics, however, the ranges of operating temperature and humidity of our rulers allow us to successfully use the device almost anywhere. Pharos devices have IPX5 protection class, that is, restrictions on outdoor use can be considered very conditional, operation at temperatures from -40 ° C to + 70 ° C, with a relative humidity of 10-90% is allowed.

    By the way, about low temperatures. Last November, our outdoor access points of the Pharos line were delivered to a mining company (ALROSA, Mirny) for round-the-clock data transmission in a video surveillance system in one of the northernmost regions of Russia, which has a long winter period: there were no malfunctions (the temperature dropped to -45 ° C).

    We pay a lot of attention to protecting equipment from electrical interference. Unlike home or office equipment, the risk of damage is much higher. Pharos have built-in lightning protection (up to 6 kV) and protection against static electricity up to 15 kV. Of course, for the successful operation of such protections, a reliable connection to high-quality grounding is required. This point should always be considered. Our devices have two options for grounding: a separate wire to a special contact on the device or through a shielded twisted pair cable and a PoE adapter, which should, ultimately, also be connected to the ground line.

    We strictly approach the issue of equipment stability. This also applies to home devices. In products for outdoor use, we use enterprise-level components, whether it be chipsets, antennas or amplifiers. In addition, the development of housings and connectors is carried out taking into account the increased requirements for tightness and strength. The software part also has a number of features that can increase the speed and throughput, reduce latency. One of the main solutions introduced to improve the quality of the communication channel is the TP-Link Pharos MAXtream technology based on TDMA (time division multiple access), which is especially good for point-to-multipoint connections over long distances.
    In the general case, when designing the Pharos line, we took into account that this equipment will be actively used and transmit large volumes of traffic, while the communication channel and antennas may not be configured in the most convenient conditions, so we expanded the standard software that is typical for wireless devices very convenient function to test connection speed. The standard firmware of the Pharos line has its own utility for checking the connection speed, so you can test the speed using standard means of the device. In practice, this is very convenient, because, for example, when setting up directional antennas, there is no need to use additional equipment and software for testing the network.

    Another trick to increase the bandwidth of the communication line lies in the combination of channels, which is also supported by the equipment of the Pharos line. As we already mentioned, a distance of up to 50 kilometers is not a problem for Pharos, however, at long distances, a decrease in network speed is almost inevitable, which can be combated with just the combination of two or more channels. Of course, in this case, additional configuration of network equipment is required. As a result, the speed increases almost in proportion to the number of channels within the available frequencies.

    Currently, this equipment is used in many projects to connect remote networks and clients in completely different climatic conditions. Outdoor devices cope with frost, heat, rains and provide reliable communication regardless of weather and existing infrastructure. Connectivity over long distances allows customers to significantly save on cabling, while the quality of communication provided by TP-Link devices is traditionally high.

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