Suggestions for setting up a community wireless network ?

I want to set up a small community WIFI network that may have as many as 100 clients. My house is on top of a tall hill and I have a T1 connection but the community below me is 1-2 miles away and clear line of sight but has no high speed access. My idea is to set up a reliable and secure wireless network for the town.

I'm looking for robust Acess Points that I can completely manage using SMTP or good software and is easy to secure with VPN or a RADIUS server.

I am looking at different equipment for the AP's:

(1) Netgear ME102 or ME103 (2) NetGear WGT624 (3) D-Link Air DWL-900AP (4) Trendnet TEW 431BR

All AP's would be placed in weatherpoof enclosures mounted on a 50 ft tower with sector antennas to cover different parts of the town. AP's that don't require extensive modification to add external antennas is a plus.

Any ideas, especially on setting up the VPN or RADIUS server. This is my first Access Point.

Thank you !

Thomas Carson

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Look at for some ideas and links to other resources.

Any way I can imagine "100 clients" puts the distances outside the range of a single consumer AP unless all the clients use outdoor dish antennas, and maybe not even then. Some APs have more powerfull radio transmitters. Look for milliwatt ratings. 30mw is poor. 200mw is available. If you actually get 100 concurrant users you may find that a mass-market AP isn't reliable. If you do get up and running and find range or reliability are not as expected, consider buying a Cisco AP for about $400. If you get some other houses to help by putting equipment of the roof you can extent range by using APs in "mesh" mode.

The old curmudgeon here reminds me to say that if you're going to charge anyone for this you'd better get legal advice.

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Al Dykes

FYI, our 802.11b NETGEAR router's antenna is fixed and cannot be upgraded. Suggest you look for a router with a removable antenna. This is not always mentioned in product reviews. Also, I'm not sure how the dual antennas in 802.11g routers would be replaced with only a single coax into an amplified (aka "gain") antenna. Good luck, and please post your experience, too.

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