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Could I use 802.11g technology to connect our new portable classroom to the main building 500 ft. aw

Could I use 802.11g technology to connect our new portable classroom to the main building 500 ft. away? I am the English teacher at a small charter high school in Central CA where we are struggling to connect our new portable classrooms to the main school building. Cost is a huge factor for us, but we can't go any longer without having Internet in our classrooms.

I started thinking about wireless 802.11g technology (rather than running a 500 ft Ethernet cable out there), but I doubt the range will cover the distance between the wired router and our portables (about 300- 500 ft). I have a D-link 802.11g net in my house and I can barely even get consistent service outside!

I even had the idea of asking the neighbor family (they're closer to the portables than the school) if we could install a wireless hub in their house!

Basically, I am asking if there is anything you can think of that will help us to get into the 21st century without paying futuristic sums.
I agree that an 802.11 AP with factory-default antenna is not really a good solution for you. I believe you need to an outdoor bridge to connect the LAN in your main school building to the LAN in your portable classroom. The LAN in your portable classroom could be wireless too, but start by getting network connectivity there first.

For example, you could use Proxim's Tsunami QuickBridge. About $1100 will get you a pair of bridges, Yagi antennas, and cables for outdoor use. Similar solutions include a pair of Cisco 350 Workgroup bridges, Milan ShAir Wireless Network bridges, or 3Com Wireless LAN Building-to-Building bridges. Outdoor bridge products like this tend to run $450-$500 per unit, plus cables and antennas. You'll mount one bridge on the exterior wall or roof of your main school building and the other on the portable classroom, with directional antennas aimed at each other to create a point-to-point wireless link.

You may wonder why I'm not suggesting sub-$100 indoor wireless-to-Ethernet bridges like the Netgear ME101 or D-Link DWL-810. These just turn a single device with an Ethernet jack into a wireless LAN client; they don't connect LANs over the distance you need. I also don't think that sub-$100 HomePlug bridges like the D-Link DHP-100 or Netgear XE102 will work for you. Those connect Ethernet devices using 110V AC power lines in the home, but won't help you connect LANs in two separate buildings. Even though they'll cost you a grand to get started, I really think a pair of bridges with outdoor-mounted directional antennas are going to be your best bet.

This was last published in October 2003

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