Anatomy of a fixed wireless installation

Larry Roesch Chrysler Jeep, a Chicago-area auto dealership, was able to get a broadband wireless connection installed in a couple of hours. Here's an eyewitness report:

Sprint Broadband Direct wireless installer Andrew Springsteen pushed a "glow rod" through an existing conduit from atop the roof of Larry Roesch Chrysler Jeep, an automotive dealership in Elmhust, Ill. He was using the flexible translucent plastic rod, which shows itself end-to-end when a light source is pointed at it, to define the path for a cable that would connect a pizza-size transceiver dish to a router in the wiring closet inside the building below.

Another technician, Curtis Sanders, looking up from the wiring closet, gave a tug on the glow rod to let Sanders know they were now set to pull the cable. But first, the two technicians needed to mark a position and set up the dish.

Springsteen hooked a signal meter to a special transceiver and antenna used for determining dish location and pointed it toward Chicago's Sears Tower, which was 15 miles away, hidden behind a thick veil of morning haze.

Sprint's broadband antenna array on the Sears building can cover a radius of up to 35 miles, and that morning it had been programmed to scan for the Chrysler dealership based on the building's Global Positioning System coordinates. The readout on the signal meter indicated a strong signal and that both the signal-to-noise ratio and carrier-to-noise ratio were well within acceptable parameters. Too much noise over line-of-site fixed wireless can mean lost packets and slower speeds, Springsteen said.

After marking the best spot for the transceiver dish, based on test readings, Springsteen and Sanders erected the transceiver dish and connected the signal meter to confirm that it was positioned correctly. Springsteen ran a copper grounding wire between the antenna base and an air-conditioning pipe to guard against lightning strikes. Meanwhile, Sanders connected a coaxial cable to the transceiver dish and then to the glow rod, pulled it through the conduit down into the wiring closet and connected it to a combination wireless adapter-router, which the dealership's network technician then hooked into an Ethernet hub.

From start to finish, the job took about two hours. A week after installation, Chandra Welton, Internet sales manager at the dealership, reports that the system is working as promised.

Copyright © 2001 IDG Communications, Inc.

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