Wireless Signal Boosting from One House to Another

I live in the boonies. Neither DSL nor cable is available, so I've been rockin dialup for a decade. My neighbor, who is a relative, has recently purchased a satellite broadband service. He's offered to share it with us if we can work out a way to boost the signal. Here's the setup: he's on the ridge of a hill about 500m away from my house. There are lots of trees and other shrubberies between us, but no other hills (i.e. if there were no trees, there would be line of sight).

Is it possible to share the service? If so, what kind of hardware do we need (e.g. wireless amplifier / antenna / booster / repeater)? What frequency, power rating, radiation pattern, etc? If someone has solved a similar problem, how did you do it?



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Hi. Somebody may come along with info on alternative frequencies that will penetrate trees, but the common 2.4 ghz B,G and N will not.

Is a mast or something to get over the trees possible?

By the way, we share a sat signal and I can tell you that once you get the signal, you will want to upgrade the service plan to a higher level if two homes are sharing. There are strict download limits that need to be understood and respected. The higher the plan, the higher the limits.


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Without direct, clear, year-round line of sight you're not going to do it. At least not inexpensively, certainly more than the cost of just getting your own sat service.

Then there's the legal question of his satellite contract specifically preventing this sort of thing.

My sympathies on the dial-up though, that's gotta suck.

Reply to
Bill Kearney

Perhaps reselling, but not sharing. Our service with Hughes was sold (biz account) for use with up to eight pcs. I don't think it's their concern as to how you network those together. Most Hughes latin america accounts feed internet cafes. Not a problem.

I thought that Jeff or somebody had mentioned lower frequency systems that do work through trees to some extent.

You might consider running up to 150 meters of ethernet cable to a remote client adapter mounted on a pole attached to a tree. You could do this on both ends and perhaps get line of sight or nearly so. Consider "rootennas" for the antenna enclosures. Long pvc, bamboo or steel pipe for masts. Power over ethernet for remote device.

Getting your own sat is perhaps the easiest approach, but it's far cheaper for two to share an premium $90-$100 account than each to use the wimpy $70 account. And that difference in cost and performance will be noticable every month for years.

But if you have several pcs in your home or closeby, then get your own system for your local network.

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That's actually a good thing as you won't have any interference from other wireless systems.

Ouch. I feel you pain.

Name of service? Level of service or max download speed? Type of equipment at his end (i.e. router model)?

Boost? That means he alreay has a wireless router. That's going to be a problem because he'll need one coverage pattern for inside his house, and a completely different antenna pattern for pointing to your house. That's just not going to work well.

Can you get a more accurate number or the distance? You're right at the bitter edge were some of my ideas might crap out.

Forget 2.4 and 5.7GHz wireless. The trees will be a problem. 900MHz might work, but only if you're shooting through branches, not solid trunks or big limbs. What's the tree type and density like?

I live in a redwood, oak, and Douglas Fir forest.

I've built various community TV and shared internet systems over the years. Basically, wireless doesn't work without line of sight. It can sorta work through the trees, but if the leaves get wet, it craps out. Worse, if your trees are deciduous, you'll have an easy shot through the trees in the winter, when the leaves fall off, but nothing during spring and summer, when they're loaded with leaves. Tell me more about your trees and we'll see if 900Mhz wireless has a chance.

One thing you should consider is that even if you have line of sight and no trees, wireless and cable are not exactly cheap. The radio will probably be mounted on a 3ft dia dish antenna. The wireless assembly will probably cost about $250 for each end. Wire is somewhat cheaper... see below.

Meanwhile, can you run a cable between the two houses?

It can be many different types of cable, but the preferable flaovor is gel filled outdoor or direct buriable CAT5 or RG6/u CATC coax cable. I've done about 300 meters without any problems at 10Mbits/sec. I could try 500 meters but I don't have that much CAT5 right now. You'll also need an old 10baseT Hub (not switch) to force the connection down to 10baseT-HDX. I've done about 5 such CAT5 runs without any difficulties (after I fixed my chronic creative crimping problem). I've done one 470 meter run of RG-58a/u running 10base2. Again, you'll need two old hubs with a BNC connector to act as a media converter. For 500 meters, my guess would be $250 for the cable (new).

There are a bunch of tricks to using coax cable. Bug me if you wanna go that route.

There are also ethernet cable extenders. For example, this one will do 100Mbits/sec to 1800 meters on one pair of wires. Kinda expensive at about $450/end, but you can much cheaper wire between houses.


Lots more. Search for "ethernet extender". You can also do this with fiber, but if you have to buy new fiber, this is going to be expensive.

Reply to
Jeff Liebermann

How you business service is contracted is likely to be different than residential. To say nothing of the differences in other countries. Calling it "sharing" doesn't make it contractually legitimate. As for cafe use, I'm guessing more are illegitimate than not.

The other alternative might be cellular data service. But that may not be available in his location (which he didn't list). If he's in an area that has coverage it's possible to use an air card in a router and hook that up to his PCs (or wifi to laptops). I do this with our air card on the boat. During the week the card gets used in a laptop for work. On the weekend it's plugged into the router and gives us access for two laptops when on board. Works great. I've a friend using the same sort of router at home as she's too far from the central office for DSL service.

Reply to
Bill Kearney

Here in the UK, most residential services state that you may use only within your property. So its ok to sit in the garden with a laptop, but not to sit in a neighbour's garden.

Back to hte OP's problem: if he's in a rural area as sounds likely, I'd go for Jeff's idea and run some cable. You could get 2Mbps out of

10base2 or some such.
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Mark McIntyre

That's probably the way the various AUP contracts should be written. However, none in the US seems to do it that way. I have some guesses as to why, but I don't want to get into legal hair splitting.

Hughesnet Terms, Conditions, and fine print:

Under "Subscriber Agreement": 3.2. MULTIPLE USE OF ACCOUNT. Multiple members of your household may share a single ID number and account, if authorized by you to use the account. In addition, up to five (5) members of the same household may access the Service at any given time through the same ID number or account.

Under AUP at:

there's absolutely nothing on sharing the connection.

Under the Small Biz contract: Networking: Please note that all computers on a network will be sharing a single connection. Simultaneous use of high-bandwidth applications by multiple users may result in degradation of download and surfing speeds, and are subject to the Fair Access Policy.

Unless I missed something, there's no mention of sharing in the Hughesnet policies, contracts, terms, conditions, declarations, disclaimers, and fine print. The FAP seems to take care of any real or theoretical excessive traffic presented by connection sharing.

Incidentally, I have a "customer" of sorts that has a small community all sharing a Hughesnet satellite connection. It's way overloaded and constantly hits the FAP limit. Hughes knows about what they're doing and has yet to say anything about sharing other than try to upsell the service to a faster downlink with a higher FAP limit.

I get the full 10 Mbits/sec with 10base2 coax and 10baseT-HDX CAT5e cable. The first limit seems to be crosstalk on the CAT5 and attenuation on both. Unlike 100 mbits/sec, there's no collision domain issues. With full duplex, you can go across the country (which is commonly being done). A clue from the FAQ at:

[3.4] (...) 10BASE2 Maximum segment length: 200 meters Maximum number of segments connected with repeaters: 5 (1000 meters) Maximum attachments per segment: 30 Minimum separation between attachments: .5 meters

In other words, with a half duplex link, using 10base2 coax, if you can get the signal through the coax, you can do 1000 meters. Any long and my guess is you run into late collisions. See [5.4] Also note that an ethernet hub is really an ethernet "repeater".

Reply to
Jeff Liebermann

The max collision domain diameter for 10M ethernet it 2500m so late collisions are not the issue. I think that you are limited to

4 repeaters by the standard. The repeaters are allowed to eat a certain number of bits at the start of the frame (perhaps to allow clock sync to be achieved). I would say that there is a decent chance that more modern equipment will eat fewer bits.

The original "thick coax" ethernet segmants are allowed to be

500m by the standard and with 4 repeaters you get 2500m.

It is interesting that you are able to push the standards in this way.

Other options for longer than normal distances are:-

Metro Ethernet (DSL like signalling I believe) A pair of SDSL routers connected by telephone wire.

As discussed already various proprietary technologies.

I would think that the SDSL route mught be quite reasonabley priced. I believe that ALL ADSL routers can be connected back to back. ADSL routers cannot be connected back to back. I thnk SDSL can be either

4 wire or two wire, with 4 wire having a higher performance.
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Thanks. I was looking for that number with Google and couldn't find it. That's the reason for the "my guess(tm)".

Yep. 5 segments = 4 repeaters (or hubs).

It's just so tempting to experiment (by breaking the rules). I've gotten into debates in various newsgroups (comp.dcom.wiring) over such issues. In all cases, my purpose was to extend the network without any taps along the way. That makes it easier than the usual 10base2 BNC "tree".

I've done:

- 950ft of CAT5 between two 10baseT hubs.

- 1000ft roll of CAT5e between my laptop and Cisco 1900 10baseT switch using SNMP to monitor errors.

- 1600ft of RG-6/u under a railroad track between 10base2 media converters. (Yes, it's 75 ohm coax). Also a radio station that was stuffed with assorted 75 ohm cables.

- Approx 400ft of 25 pair telco bundle at 10baseT-HDX. This one has problems with garbage to/from several DSL lines in the bundle.

- 100ft of two AC power line extension cords running 10baseT. It worked for the intended few hours until the go-fer arrived with a roll of CAT5e.

- Various abominations using untwisted pair as installed by the the clueless electrician. In general, I had to use half-duplex because of excessive crosstalk in full-duplex.

The 75 ohm coax requires a bit of explanation. The two 50 ohm terminator set the DC level on the line so that collisions can be detected. The VSWR is not sufficiently high to create much of a reflection. The long length of the coax, and the high attentuation, effectively removes any reflections. However, 75 ohm coax does not work well with short lengths, probably due to reflection issues.

With CAT5e, things seem to start becoming erratic at about 1200ft and drop out completely at about 1500ft. I keep wanting to experiment more, but never have the time.

I've tried the SDSL modem route and got a few unpleasant surprises. See:

for destructions. The problem is that the best you can do with an SDSL modem is about 2 Mbits/sec. They're similar to some of the older ethernet extenders but with a different modulation system. 2 wires, not 4. I've tried various model SDSL modem pairs. Most required a DSLAM to operate. So far, only the old PairGain 300s SDSL modems have worked without a DSLAM, but there may be others:

There are also a few pre-DOCSIS cable modems that allow manually setting the tx and rx channels. In this configuration, they can be used to talk to each other. If my foggy memory is still functional, I believe that older Zenith cable modems could do this. I've never tried these.

Reply to
Jeff Liebermann

I've tried various model SDSL modem pairs. Most required a

I've used Flowpoint 2200/Speedstream SDSL modems point to point over dry pairs quite nicely.


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In legal parlance "household" usually means one residence. Unlikely to apply in the original situation.

True, it's less hassle on the company's part to upsell than to prosecute. But that doesn't legitimize it.

Good you pointed out the throttling they apply when consumption goes over the limit. Might not be what the original subscriber would want to put up with, having the downstream freeloader gobbling up bandwidth leaving them stuck.

Reply to
Bill Kearney

That definition can get really messy in a large apartment building.

Some service providers write in unenforceable and highly restrictive clauses in their TOS/AUS but then don't enforce them. They're apparently present solely to be used should they need a reason or excuse to cancel a customers service.

The FAP is a necessary evil for satellite internet. While terrestrial internet service may be oversubscribed with a 10:1 ratio, my best guess is that Hughesnet is oversubscribed by about 80:1. That implied almost continous congestion, which can only be alleviated by throttling the high traffic users. Note that they do not financially penalize high traffic users as the excess bandwidth would not be available at any price and only at the detriment of other users.

This is quite a contrast from DSL, cellular, and cable providers establishing a monthly download limit, and then collecting potentially huge charges from anyone that goes over.

Reply to
Jeff Liebermann

Jeff Liebermann wrote: (of ISP's policies on sharing and an example from Hughesnet)

That says they have to be members of your household. That would exclude neighbours I'd say?

I'd be astounded if any ISP would give two hoots in reality. Personally I suspect its for legal protection (of the ISP). You warrant not to let random strangers use it - so if some random stranger commits crimes using your line, its your fault not the ISPs.

Its quite probable. I doubt /I/ would but something tells me you can probably make better cable runs than I can!

Reply to
Mark McIntyre

So it is written, so it must be.

Please note that before AT&T and Comcast combined, Comcast was somewhat notorious for sniffing the users traffic, and estimating the number of computers, and sending their telemarketing squad out to call the customer and demand an extra $5/month per computer. At the time, their original TOS was for one computer/user per connection. If you wanted more, you would need to buy a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc IP address.

My guess(tm) is that this 5 user limit is the result of some compromise thrown together after Comcast dropped the idea.

Too complicated an explanation. Occams Razor. Methinks it's just unintended sloppiness resulting from Hughesnet copying the TOS and AUS documents from other ISP's or something equally mundane.

There's no magic in using 10base2 coax. That was standard practice in the days of Cheapernet (Ethernet over RG-58a/u). 10mbits/sec was no problem if everything was done right. The main problem was crappy BNC connectors, bad crimps, and worthless BNC "T" connectors. I bought a rather expensive crimping tool, and crimped happily ever after.

Incidentally, running wire has always been easier to install and troubleshoot than wireless.

Reply to
Jeff Liebermann

Indeed. I still guarantee you that you'd get better performance than I would.... :-)

You haven't met my electrician's assistant... :-(

100% behind you there.
Reply to
Mark McIntyre

That might be because my clock runs faster than most.

I probably have. I tend to hire day workers from the local lumber yard to do wiring. I've found them more efficient than hiring students from the local colleges. Most importantly, they don't have a problem showing up on time or engaging in suicidal acrobatic stunts. Even better, if they don't speak English, they can't argue with me.

The only time I really got into trouble was when I hired a qualified installer that was taking BICSI courses. I insisted on wiring 568B, while he argued that "industry standard" was 568A. The end result was that one end of all the cables were 568A, the other end 568B. Of course, nothing worked. I paid him his wages, threw him off the premises, and undid the damage myself.

Gee thanks. With you behind me, I make a perfect target. Couldn't you be 100% ahead of me instead?

Reply to
Jeff Liebermann

A tower, it is very difficult to establish a link without line of sight communication. Trees really soak up microwaves.


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