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Guide to creating a hotspot zone

I want to create hotspot zone in my area; linking two to three city blocks. What equipment will I need?
Honestly, with that sort of coverage area you should be looking to bring in a wireless specialist as you're going to have to evaluate:

  1. The choice of technology (802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11a)
  2. The intended wireless cell sizes and the number of people that will be existing in any one cell
  3. The backbone distribution system – are you going to cable to each access point or are you going to use a wireless distribution system for the network backbone.
  4. Will the distribution system be point-point, repeater or point-multipoint? Which frequency range will it operate in?
  5. What is the terrain?

The first step in EVERY wireless rollout is a professional site survey. I spent much of my time performing network analysis and troubleshooting for companies that didn't do a site survey and now don't understand why their network doesn't work.

Although you want me to, I'm not going to give you an outline of the technology that you should use because you really need to go and talk to some local wireless integrators that understand the local environment and the available technology (and local RF power output restrictions) before you even begin to talk about the specific choice technology.

However I will give you this – you'll need:

  1. Access Points per 20-100 meters (depending on the area)
  2. A network distribution system
  3. A billing / accounting package
  4. An internet connection large enough to handle the anticipated number of users with a high quality of service such that they'll pay for the service
  5. The correct antennas to stay within regulations and to give the best hotspot coverage, etc.

This was last published in August 2003

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