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Ask Slashdot: 4G Networking Advice For Large Outdoor Festival?

timothy posted 1 year,29 days | from the ok-are-there-any-starbucks-locations-nearby dept.

Networking 140

New submitter xanadu113 writes "I help out with a large outdoor festival each year (Seattle Hempfest), and we use 4G hotspots on-site for our internet needs. Due to being at the bottom of the hill (in Myrtle Edwards park in downtown Seattle, WA right on the sound), we have problems with loss of signal, bandwidth switching (going between 4G/3G/2G, etc.). As wireless internet is our only option on site, we need to do something about improving the signals. What would be the best way to do a site survey of the 4G signals to select the best locations for hotspots, as well as the best carrier to use? We need potentially up to 10 devices per hotspot, and up to 10 hotspots or so. Also, would putting up a 4G repeater be a good option to solve this problem?"

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Why not WiFi (4, Informative)

Quick Reply (688867) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665267)

WiFi is going to be cheaper.

Re:Why not WiFi (1)

hedwards (940851) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665299)

Right, this sounds like a job for something like open-mesh, a larger number of smaller device is going to be the only reasonable solution. Setting up 4G is presumably going to require regulatory approval and the people who have licenses to the spectrum are probably not going to be willing to share for such a brief event. Especially seeing as they're money comes from charging access to use it.

Re:Why not WiFi (2)

Blaskowicz (634489) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665487)

I agree. Why a mesh though? (and how do you set that up)

Re:Why not WiFi (1)

xanadu113 (657977) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665895)

I would love to have a mesh setup, suggestions on software/hardware..?

Re:Why not WiFi (2)

BitZtream (692029) | 1 year,28 days | (#44666619)

What you should have done from the start is call Verizon/AT&T/WhoEverYourBiggestLocalProvider is and have them resolve the issue. This is WAY beyond your level if you're asking slashdot.

Re:Why not WiFi (2)

hedwards (940851) | 1 year,28 days | (#44666661)

Open-mesh is a good place to start. They're self healing, have remote management and for those that need weather proofing, they have that as well.

Re:Why not WiFi (2)

CaptQuark (2706165) | 1 year,28 days | (#44667891)

Why worry about this now? The festival most likely won't be held at Myrtle Edwards park next year anyway. It has grown too big for that location. Hempfest 2013 []

Re:Why not WiFi (2)

hedwards (940851) | 1 year,28 days | (#44666655)

I've never set one up this size. But, I've used open-mesh and the hardware is relatively nice and reliable. You can get a weatherproof one for about $75 and the software is relatively nice.

But the reason for mesh is that there's a fixed number of devices that you can simultaneously connect to a WAP before it becomes unusable. You can have a maximum of 3 different channels in use in an area before you start to have them sharing at least some portion of their spectrum with each other. But, you can probably do 4 without it being too bad.

With a good mesh set up, you're going to need more devices to cover the field, but each one of them is generally lower powered than a typical access point. So, if you lay them out properly, you get minimal interference from each other and a smaller number of users per node. Alternating between the 3 or 4 channels you have available. What's more, a good implementation will allow guests to log into the mesh rather than into individual access points.

The main downside here is that ideally you want no more than one hop between a given node and a wired connection. And it's going to be tough to do in a venue this size. But, that's going to be true regardless of what type of wireless you use. Although actual cellular data might be more resistant to it.

A good place to look would probably be some thing like open-mesh as the access points themselves are relatively inexpensive, and there are ample choices for the software side of things. You can limit the bandwidth if you so choose, you can also serve up a disclaimer.

But, this does depend a bit upon the strength of the antenna, you can get up to 26db on some of them, which shouldn't require too many units. But, the OP is going to need power and Ethernet running to them. Or at least power.

Re:Why not WiFi (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | 1 year,28 days | (#44666685)

But, this does depend a bit upon the strength of the antenna, you can get up to 26db on some of them, which shouldn't require too many units. But, the OP is going to need power and Ethernet running to them. Or at least power.

Or there is, you guessed it, power over ethernet :)

Re:Why not WiFi (1)

DadLeopard (1290796) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665405)

Excuse me, but a 4G Hotspot supplies Wi-fi to several devices. How many depends on the Hotspot used! Best bet is to walk around the area and do a survey to find out which carrier has the best connection in each part of the venue, and yes a repeater would probably help, that is if you can get a good signal to it in the first place!

Re:Why not WiFi (1)

niftymitch (1625721) | 1 year,28 days | (#44666729)

WiFi is going to be cheaper.


WiFi hardware is likely the best solution. It covers tablets,
phones, iPod-touch, laptops effectively any portable device
of the modern age. You can take a number of off the shelf
home routers in the $100 range and wire them together with shallow
trenched wire or modest vertical supports. With GigE hubs
and GigE devices you can put a lot of bandwidth in the valley.

Bandwidth to the valley is problematic. Cell-Towers do have a lot
of bandwidth linking them to the world. That is the very hard part to address.

One thing you can do is provision and establish one or more proxy servers, caching name servers,
and a local site HTTP server and services. Schedule, news, announcements, lost and found,
live video... These can help with the bandwidth needs. in and out of the valley. This is very
hard and perhaps very expensive. Consider local "warm" spots such that 10%-30% of the valley
is covered well. Banners can identify these "warm" spots so those that wish to can walk closer.

Channel management is necessary as are signal strength maps so your mini-services do not
clobber each other.

Consider the concentrated bandwidth needs of a place like AT&T park in San Francisco.
with 44K people, most with phones, taking pictures, posting them on Facebook.

These situations are harder than they sound.

This could be harder, more expensive and more regulated than it sounds.

Exede Events (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665269)

Your application sounds perfect for Exede Events.

Much better than dealing with 4G problems. Check it out.

Re: Exede Events (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44666211)

Agree. Exede would give you virtually unlimited bandwidth for your event -- hundreds of MHz. With 4G you'll be crippled by the limited spectrum.

If your never sprint coverage (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665281)

If you are near sprint coverage you can get and rent a tower on a truck that may solve the 4g issue for the entire area. Then your hot spots could be anywhere. I don't know the cost on this though, just know they have it.

Re:If your never sprint coverage (1)

hedwards (940851) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665305)

That's possible, but wouldn't you be stuck with some people being able to use it and others not? I'm not up on 4G, but a lot of handsets aren't going to support 4G from any carrier anyways.

Re:If your never sprint coverage (1)

Agent ME (1411269) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665573)

That's why you make sure to only get 4G hotspots that work with it. Other people's phones don't matter, they can just use the wifi from the hotspots.

Towers are per-carrier (1)

supergumby (141149) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665615)

You're correct, only that carrier's customers (and supported MVNOs) would be able to use that tower on a truck.

Re: Towers are per-carrier (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665853)

No, they are saying use 4G hotspots that can work with the tower on thd truck and then any and everyone could use wifi to the hot spots. Sure sprint customers and those who have wvno's could use the tower on the truck directly, but others could use the wifi provided by the hot spots that connect to the tower on thr truck

Aug 16-18th. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665287)

If only you'd asked this question a month ago.

Re:Aug 16-18th. (1)

hedwards (940851) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665315)

Presumably, this is for planning next year's Hempfest or the year after. If he's even considering 4G as a possibility that's going to take some time to arrange. Seeing as that spectrum has already been licensed out.

Re:Aug 16-18th. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665519)

Perhaps I don't know what he's asking, but it sounds like to me what he wants is to go down to a local Clear store and pick up a hot spot and plug it in. I think the lead time is going to be about half an hour to find a store and drive there.

Given that there are a number of technology companies right along the waterfront, it'd think a pair of wireless bridges/extenders and directional antennas would be a better choice. Just arrange to put an installation atop F5's building there.

Re:Aug 16-18th. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44666375)

Clear is not so good. In one line its just inconsistent

HEMP fest. OP headed to the computer a year ago (1, Funny)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665553)

The OP is organizing a HEMP fest. Meaning they are a major pot head. It's a safe bet that it was a year ago that they headed toward the computer to post this.

  On the way, they stopped at the kitchen for some pop tarts. Then they smoked another doobie. A few hours later, they sat down at the computer. They had to see what the email about Ron Paul said. Then they smoked another bowl. A few months later, they logged into Slashdot. There was a article on Slashdot about Occupy, so they had to read it. It said some Occupy folks would be only 60 miles away, so they had to go join. Of course, for an Occupy event they needed to pick up a QP on the way. When they got there, they smoked a bowl and when they finished smoking three weeks had gone by.

Re:HEMP fest. OP headed to the computer a year ago (1)

xanadu113 (657977) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665839)

You missed a few stereotypes in there...

yet all true. it's autobiographical (1)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,28 days | (#44666957)

The funny thing is, they're all true. My post was basically a description of me, age 16-20. I started college when I was sixteen. A aced everything the first semester. Then I got stoned. 20 years later, I'm starting my second semester.

Re:HEMP fest. OP headed to the computer a year ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665893)

OP had an intelligent question... and yet somehow your post was both a complete waste of space AND time.

Re:HEMP fest. OP headed to the computer a year ago (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44666049)

...somehow your post was both a complete waste of space AND time.

WOW, man! THat's far out. I'm completely wasted in space AND time too!

Re:Aug 16-18th. (2)

xanadu113 (657977) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665833)

True, but I'm getting a head start on the 2014 (August 15-17, always the third weekend in August) Hempfest... ;)

Re:Aug 16-18th. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44666063)

True, but I'm getting a head start on the 2014 (August 15-17, always the third weekend in August) Hempfest... ;)

Good idea, man, that shit creeps up on you real fast if you're not on the ball.

Let's roll!

Re:Aug 16-18th. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44667823)

Presumably, you want to connect merchant POS (or just phones with wifi and a POS app) to the internet. So you need a mobile tower (a repeater truck from the best provider in your area) and a bunch of secured Hot Spot wifi devices (purchased, configured and controlled by the event) that connect to that provider. That way no one needs to be a customer of the mobile company to access to internet.

Call them up and see if their sponsor the event with coverage.

have a chat with your carrier?? (2)

RobertLTux (260313) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665293)

even if you land up having %carrier% signs all around the place and %carrier% logo lighters and such you might land up having your carrier setup a portable tower or something Commercial Grade.

what are the maths involved? (most important you need to cover which bits of ground??)

Contact a local ISP (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665297)

Couldn't you find a local ISP that would run some cables out to your festival, and then use Wifi repeaters to get the signal over the entire area? It seems like if you have a large festival and you're depending on 4g, then you're going to run into issues when every person with a smartphone tries to connect to twitter/facebook/instagram/whatever the hell people use now-a-days, and you need the internet signal the most, but it's just going to collapse due to the infrastructure strain.

COWs, lots of COWs (4, Informative)

waddgodd (34934) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665309)

Talk to the major cell providers, get some Celltowers On Wheels. They loves them some COW events, every COW is a dozen overage charges waiting to happen.

Re:COWs, lots of COWs (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665613)

Yes, COW's are the way to go. They are free, will be set up and operated, and powered, by the cellphone providers. Just tell them the numbers of people you expect to have and the dates and times.

Re:COWs, lots of COWs (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665783)

I should also mention that if there is a tower in the area, and your event is getting it close to 75% utilization, it will set off alarms. They may already know about your event and have a COW planned. Talk to them and ask them to check their records for last year. The last thing they want is a tower hitting 100% and no one being able to use it.

Re:Use Broadband providers. (2)

Technician (215283) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665659)

Also check out WIDI. CLEAR is in the area. The local ISP's can provide a drop for a fee to feed a few WIFI hotspots. Cell capacity has limits for large festivals. Use alternatives when possible.

FYI, check the local thrift shops for used CLEAR modems. Monthly service is possible. Combined with a 2nd hand wireless router, the modem and router can often be operated just fine on a 12 volt battery.

Re:Correction WiMax coverage in the area. (1)

Technician (215283) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665663)

Correction WiMax

Re:Use Broadband providers. (1)

xanadu113 (657977) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665845)

We do have generators on-site...

Re: Use Broadband providers. (1)

AlephNaut (120505) | 1 year,28 days | (#44667119)

Definitely interesting imho. I'm a hobbyist, 1st time at festival this year, and would have defaulted to using hotspots as wifi backhaul but maybe that's not the way to go.

then again I'm used to bringing in stuff from home to work (pc components mainly) but enterprise hardware is like a superset of home hardware. SAS, fibrechannel and the like.

Re: Use Broadband providers. (1)

AlephNaut (120505) | 1 year,28 days | (#44667143)

Oh and microwave, wimax and COWs strike me as the most promising/practical so far. Even here in seattle it might be hard to get the tech companies to sponsor (though maybe 429 branded beers and the like might?)

Re:COWs, lots of COWs (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665735)

This +1. I do COWs with major providers and this is the best solution. We test all sectors in the area to guarantee coverage. If there are issues, they will upgrade the COW for the following year.

Re:COWs, lots of COWs (1)

AlephNaut (120505) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665979)

I thought his question implied that they were going to use 4g hotspots to provide wifi. Not to extend 4g coverage but to use it as a backhaul for wifi. Why would he need the hotspots to move? The geography is fixed. Coverage sucked near the shore but was fine around the main stage. I thought he qas asking if there's a better way to position the hotspots to provide maximum wifi coverage...

Ever consider T-Mobile? (1)

DewDude (537374) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665335)

T-Mobile's based out of Belleview; talking to them may prove advantageous.

Re:Ever consider T-Mobile? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665579)

Belleview? You act like you know the area but can't spell one of the major cities of the state. You fail the Washington State Turing Test.

Question two would've been... pronounce Puyallup...

Re: Ever consider T-Mobile? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44666473)

It pronounces like its written.

Re: Ever consider T-Mobile? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44666731)

Scritch-scritch-scritchy-scritch-tap-tap-tap? Doesn't seem right.

Re:Ever consider T-Mobile? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44667833)

Back in your hole, Assburger!

Need Wireless Source not Cellular Carrier (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665343)

With so many people at the festival, they will easily eat up the cellular connection with their cell phones, so you really shouldn't rely on 4g or any cellular broadband source.
I would recommend finding a wireless carrier that can send you internet via 5.8ghz or 3.65ghz (wimax). Once you have a source at the fest, you would want to redistribute it yourself to various locations for your hotspots at different venues by using an Access Point at each location. You should use a 5.8ghz bridge to redistribute it through the site but you would want to site survey first. Look into Ubiquiti products - easy to use.
Alternatively, instead of going to an expensive wireless carrier to send you bandwidth to the site, you could find somebody that owns a house or business with a good cable internet connection and redistribute down to the fest yourself using 5.8ghz bridging.
Good luck. And P.S. don't waste your time trying to fix the 4g issue - its a lost cause when too many people are in the area taking up the signal.

Re:Need Wireless Source not Cellular Carrier (3, Informative)

BitZtream (692029) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665675)

y that owns a house or business with a good cable internet connection and redistribute down to the fest yourself using 5.8ghz bridging

Which would be against the ToS of pretty much every ISP on the planet. Thats a stupid suggestion, and a good way to get yourself in trouble.

Re:Need Wireless Source not Cellular Carrier (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665743)

Which would be against the ToS of pretty much every ISP on the planet. Thats a stupid suggestion, and a good way to get yourself in trouble.

Not on a business contract, obviously. I mean think about it. It can't be against every ISP's on the planet, who do ISP's and hotels and other people that serve multiple people get connections from. It's can't be that stupid.

Re:Need Wireless Source not Cellular Carrier (2)

niftymitch (1625721) | 1 year,28 days | (#44666897)

Which would be against the ToS of pretty much every ISP on the planet. Thats a stupid suggestion, and a good way to get yourself in trouble.

Not on a business contract, obviously. I mean think about it. It can't be against every ISP's on the planet, who do ISP's and hotels and other people that serve multiple people get connections from. It's can't be that stupid.

N.B. the likes of AT&T are tower limited by local zoning and not in my backyard do gooders.

To make their customers a bit less grumpy they have been quietly installing WiFi hot spots
all over cities and anyplace where their existing copper infrastructure reaches.

Event planners can and should work with cell carriers and local businesses.
The local businesses could be happy homes to "free" installation of WiFi to service
their sidewalk and premises (or not).

How To Get 4G (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665359)

For the MS-150 from Houston to Austin, one of the wireless carriers set up a mobile 4G tower for the overnight stay at the half way point.

Have you checked with your local carriers?

A Day Late And A Dollar Short (2, Informative)

westlake (615356) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665363)

2013 Schedule [] (August 16-August 18)

Re:A Day Late And A Dollar Short (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665403)

OP really was high on dope.

Re:A Day Late And A Dollar Short (1)

xanadu113 (657977) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665857)

OP was completely sober when posting the question. Trust me, I know him. ;)

Re: A Day Late And A Dollar Short (1)

AlephNaut (120505) | 1 year,28 days | (#44667161)

Damn sorry to hear that! Jkjkjk :)

Re:A Day Late And A Dollar Short (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665741)

A Day Late And A Dollar Short

I think that applies to you more so than him.

Obviously, at last week's event they came to the conclusion that this is something they need to address. Site surveys, deals with carriers, major hardware purchases, and infrastructure changes are not things that happen in a couple days, so they need to plan in advance.

xanadu113 is doing the correct thing here in allowing a year to get this straightened out, as opposed to you who would apparently put it off for 51 weeks?

Re:A Day Late And A Dollar Short (1)

westlake (615356) | 1 year,28 days | (#44666373)

Obviously, at last week's event they came to the conclusion that this is something they need to address.

The story doesn't begin: "We ran into some problems at this year's HempFest , and we need to do better."

Do that and answers become more focused. Lead times. Costs. Technologies. Staffing. As it stands, we're left wondering how long this post lay moldering at the bottom of the pile before the editors got around to reading it.

Don't tell me you've never seen an "Ask Slashdot" that reads like a weirdly delayed SOS call from "Titanic."

Re:A Day Late And A Dollar Short (1)

chrismcb (983081) | 1 year,29 days | (#44666031)

So after the 2013 Hempfest, they organizers said "well what were some of our problems, and how do we solve them for NEXT year?"

Re:A Day Late And A Dollar Short (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44666241)

So after the 2013 Hempfest, they organizers said "well what were some of our problems, and how do we solve them for NEXT year?"

And then decided "fuck it, lets just smoke a bowl, instead."

sensorly (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665365)

Check out sensorly for coverage maps of nearly every carrier.

Re: sensorly (2)

AlephNaut (120505) | 1 year,28 days | (#44667173)

Nice, good linkage.

antenna array (2)

Tastecicles (1153671) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665381)

The problem with most terminal equipment is not so much location, but the quality of the antenna used. Most phones these days have absolutely pitiful antennas which is alleviated somewhat by the use of a flat copper helix stuck on the back of the battery. Or, in the case of such phones as the iPhone, which do not come with removable covers never mind removable batteries, stuck to the back of the case.

Re:antenna array (1)

BitZtream (692029) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665685)

aah, the good old magical signal booster scam.

Re:antenna array (1)

Threni (635302) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665771)

Even in theory, how's that supposed to work?

Re:antenna array (1)

xanadu113 (657977) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665859)

As a passive repeater, possibly...?

Survey method - old nokia (1)

zeridon (846747) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665391)

For survey purposes i would suggest finding an old nokia (3310 or similar) or some other phone that can have monitor mode enabled (or service menu). It is best if you would be able to slurp the data out of the phone via a cable but spot checks every 5-10 m would be OK (repeat at a minimum of 3 times).

Probably there is a better way but this is the cheapest and fastest way. For more ideas i'd suggest contacting OpenBTS/OpenBSC (as projects for ideas) or Harawd Welte / Dieter Spaar (as persons).

I would not suggest using 4G though (it seems a little bit too spotty and ureliable) if you can get your hands on some MiFi devices it would be better.

Next best option (or even better) would be WiMax (though it depends on availability).

Multiple hops (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665393)

Well -- try to place the wireless access points where you have 4G service. Then use 802.11 repeaters (or even long, long runs of ethernet cable) to get the bandwidth to where you need it -- down the hill. Of course this is my $0.02 worth of advice and I live in a state without hills.

Just ask the NSA for assistance... (4, Funny)

Type44Q (1233630) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665417)

Just ask the NSA for assistance; I'm sure they'd be more than happy to provide all the IT assistance you could possibly need. :)

I think some of you have it backward (1)

certain death (947081) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665461)

It sounds like OP has some kind of 4G hotspot, as in, it connects to a 4G network and shares that connection out via wifi. So...I would follow the suggestion of someone up there a couple of posts - Find good coverage spots and spread out the access via repeaters of some kind.

Re: I think some of you have it backward (1)

Badblackdog (1211452) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665555)

Sounds right, he has or is planning to use 4G hot spots to distribute Wifi. The problem is those 4G hotspots are going to be sharing the same connection to the internet as all the other devices at the venue. Bring in the outbound connection through a wired means if possible (Cable, Fiber or least preferable DSL). Good luck and hopefully I will make it to the 2014 HempFest, but not for the free Wifi! I am so Jelly

Re: I think some of you have it backward (1)

xanadu113 (657977) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665875)

Cable, fiber, and DSL are difficult, if not impossible, to run into Myrtle Edwards park, and I'm guessing the city would never allow it unless it was their idea.

Stoned... (2)

flyingfsck (986395) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665509)

Why would a bunch of stoners need high speed internet? I can imagine maybe one user typing 'hey' and another user typing 'dude' a half hour later, but if there is any more activity than that, then the fest is a dud...

Re:Stoned... (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665767)

At some point you need to get out of your mother's basement and stop believing what you "learned" in D.A.R.E.

Re:Stoned... (1)

fermion (181285) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665959)

This is really how the world has degraded into mediocrity. There was a time when one went to festival to hang with your friends, jam to some tunes, and, yes, maybe do some things you shouldn't. Now one has to have 4G. I blame the helicopter parents who create dependent children who cannot entertain themselves for a few hours with checking in with their mommy.

Re: Stoned... (1)

AlephNaut (120505) | 1 year,28 days | (#44667207)

You still hang with your friends. You just have much cooler stuff to share than ripped up magazines or broken-spined books.

dude (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665567)

Dude, hempfest was last week!

Re:dude (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665763)

Dude... Hempfest is next year.

The carrier perspective (2)

supergumby (141149) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665605)

This event is an excellent candidate for a temporary cellular deployment, engineered and operated by a carrier. Typically, they will not charge for the service because of the extra call revenue and to avoid bad publicity from poor coverage or capacity. Unfortunately, you would need to engage both Verizon and AT&T to provide service for their own customers.

I recommend not deploying a cellular repeater in this case because there is likely insufficient isolation between the surrounding macro network and your event site. Without sufficient isolation, the repeater will impair the operation of the host base station and not even provide significant coverage improvement due to massive multipath problems. If you're interested in a survey, you could use an Android phone with RF Signal Tracker and record the RSCP and Ec/Io of UMTS ("3G") service.

If the carriers are not interested, I recommend deploying your own Wi-Fi network. I cannot offer advice on how many access points you would need, but it will be many. Because Wi-Fi was never meant to be infrastructure and lacks features like uplink scheduling and handover, controlling the footprint of each access point is very important.

Wireless 5.5GHz point-to-point link (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665677)

Wifi is great to first get your internet connection. Simplest if you have an accomplice in a near-by building with line of sight, preferably with a fiber, non crippled internet access on that side. Set a wireless link between your festival and the building with something like a pair of Ubiquity Nanostation. As it's wifi 5.5GHz, it's unlicensed and has a broad, not much used spectrum. Doesn't go through walls as easily as 2.4GHz, too. You have to respect some emission power limit of course but you get a stable and easy connection.

I used such a thing and would have 3 to 5 megabits symetrical, 100 meters or maybe more, and I guess that faster is doable (or just longer range and get that speed)
If line of sight or range is an issue I guess you can use a repeater (just a bridge with two wifi 5.5GHz interfaces)

On the festival end you could distribute it with wifi 2.4GHz, with maybe cat5 cables (up to 100 meters) to access points (or can they use wifi 5.5GHz to network with other APs?). And you can use wired ethernet for your own stuff.
You probably need to set up a proxy with a captive portal, that's useful : you get caching, so lots of bandwith saved when ten people are hitting the same web page or watch the same video ("check this out"). Ads filtering too! and if you're nasty (but reasonabe) people are given only web access through the proxy, no internet access.
Do you need QoS and is it easy I don't know.

If there's a small local wireless ISP (a non profit one why not), the better.

Re:Wireless 5.5GHz point-to-point link (1)

xanadu113 (657977) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665887)

As this isn't open to the general public, we will have less need for caching since the internal systems are mostly text based web pages...

The hotspots will be password protected...

Re: Wireless 5.5GHz point-to-point link (1)

AlephNaut (120505) | 1 year,28 days | (#44667245)

Yeah but the first part sounds kinda interesting. Anyone who works at any of those tech companies next to the park could probably plug in to their wired network. That'd be a trunk line onto the public internet. Getting that out of the building ... maybe run cat5 from the closest port near the roof then wifi it over to a main hotspot that relays to the rest.

Or wifi it through the windows to the nearest park hotspot.

They'd take a bump to their internet traffic but if it is mostly over a weekend and they're nowhere near their cap... hell put a donation cup in front of the parpark hotspot to pay em :) ? (2)

Blaskowicz (634489) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665889)

(replying to myself)

Seattle being a major town with a known tech history, there's indeed a community wireless ISP, called "Seattle Wireless" and I'm sure they can be helpful. Or even have some people there quite interested

Simple way to find your celltowers (3, Informative)

bugnuts (94678) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665697)

I've used this method to find celltowers closest to a house in a forest. On your cellphone, turn off GPS and google location services, and go into airplane mode.

Then turn off airplane mode and as soon as it connects try to get a fix on your position in google maps using only celltower information. Basically, it'll place you a certain distance within range of a celltower. The center of the circle is where the tower is. If you can get LOS on that tower, that will help your signal a lot. Sometimes they're even marked in google maps. You can move around the perimeter, and it may switch to a different cell indicating another tower you can use. Not all carriers use the same celltowers, either, so this has to be the same provider you have for your hotspots.

If you really want to play around to increase signal, try mounting an old satellite dish up high aiming directly at the celltower, and place the hotspot at the focal point.

A 4G repeater won't help since you'd have to place it in LOS to the tower anyway, so you might as well just place your hotspot and a wifi repeater there with a directional antenna. Wifi equipment should be cheaper and faster, too, for the infrastructure.

Pothead stereotypes... (3, Funny)

xanadu113 (657977) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665877)

It's funny how the "non potheads" can't think outside the box enough to realize this is for the 2014 Hempfest, not the 2013 one which ended last weekend on the 18th... ;)

Your problem is congestion, not coverage. (3, Interesting)

ampmouse (761827) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665901)

I live just a few blocks from the park (and staffed a table on Sunday of the event), the 4G problems are not due to coverage but due to network congestion. You can easily get 10-15 Mbps via both Clear and Verizon 4G when there aren't 50k people there. You really should be looking at point to point microwave for your backhall. I'm sure Spectrum Networks can provide you with a 1Gbps link on at least the south half of the park. Digital Fortress has a datacenter in the big black round building that overlooks the park. I suspect they could get you roof access and a 1Gbps feed too. Most of the buildings along the park belong to tech companies (F5 networks, Big Fish Games). If you can talk one of them into sponsoring you, they could likely get you bandwidth on their roofs too. Bandwidth isn't a problem, you just need to bring your own. Obviously that requires money and forward planning.

Stop making this way too hard (4, Informative)

ancientt (569920) | 1 year,29 days | (#44665907)

The person asking the question thinks the solution to needing to provide Wifi Hotspots is to use cellular based devices and maybe try to find a way to get better 4G coverage.

You're trying to solve the wrong problem. Using 4G to provide wifi has several drawbacks, first is cost. Second, you can't get the bandwidth you really need, and third, you have to compete with every device there trying to connect to thier cellular provider. Provide hotspots with Wifi Routers getting their connections from a wired source instead. Ideally, you'd run wires to your wifi access points but if you can't do that very well in some places, use wifi repeaters.

If putting wires to the places you need access points is really a serious problem that you can't solve with wifi repeaters, then use microwave. It's not too expensive to set up and it can give you a no-wires high bandwidth internet connection for long distances.

Since the wrong question was asked, it is hard to provide the right answer, but here are some tips:

Re:Stop making this way too hard (1)

mrbene (1380531) | 1 year,28 days | (#44666669)

+1 on this for sure.

The OP hasn't been super clear with regards to their requirements - is the goal to provide:

  1. - Internet to all festival goers?
  2. - Internet to festival organizers only?

If it's the former, then the question is whether the OP wants to provide this as part of the ticket price, then consider whether to bring in a 3rd party either as a sponsorship or as a business. If it's the latter, then the question is whether the festival organizers actually need the internet, or just a bunch of organizer resources. A private WLAN with a local web server hosting all the festival resources should significantly reduce the need for internet access.

Re: Stop making this way too hard (1)

AlephNaut (120505) | 1 year,28 days | (#44667271)

It's a free festival. Internet access was kind of all or nothing. At the main stage speed test over verizon 4g clocked in well north of 5mbps. Over near the shore, on the rocks and the like I got bupkus. No signal at all.

Not really a big deal to walk a few feet to get coverage but this is seattle, we tech hard so going the extra mile to have a weed festival with great coverage is important-ish. :)

internet down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44665973)

total buzzkill

you need to try something else (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44666147)

If you need wireless and you need it guaranteed you aren't going to get it done on your own like that. You have a couple of options. 1 get Verizon or ATT to provide some mobile towers..sometimes they will charge..sometimes they will sponsor. In your case you are probably going to have to pay them.

Baring thing if you do nothing it's going to get worse when others show up...even IF you get your own mobile amplification devices on the spot. You need dedicated bandwidth. To say nothing that being near water is going to mess with signals in the range you are using...that is probably part of the reason you get all that switching going on.

Or..install your own back haul devices sending over non wifi frequencies to the top of the hill where you have a dedicated circuit available and then broadcast your own wifi at the bottom. Be aware though you get 20-30 people who happen to leave their own hotspot on near...well your probably toast as well as you'll get lots of collisions.

You have the public and you need internet access look to something outside the frequency and access of the public that you are inviting.

In your case I would start with either calling ATT or Verizon and asking them to provide this service. They have mobile kits for doing things like this they roll in with staff. It isn't free but what you are hoping for won't be and it won't be anything in the consumer space anyway.


Wilson Electronics Signal Booster (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44666233)

From what it sounds like, you may want to contact someone like Wilson Electronics who manufacturers wireless signal boosters. These (legal) devices really do work and are respected. You'll want to cover all the major GSM (AT&T+T-Mobile) and CDMA (Verizon+Sprint) carriers LTE frequencies which will also include 3G service. Which means you may have to wait a few months for the best booster with the best spectrum coverage. And you could always try building your own, just make sure its a legal design. But I would definitely contact them or someone similar who has expertise in that scenario.

Funny to read this (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44666335)

Seattle Hempfest Core member here laughing as I browse one of my favorite tech sites. Sometimes the networking problem you are working has less to do with the technical side of issues, but the inner workings of the organization you are in. I can tell you that the person typing these words has spent quite and bit of money and time on wireless gear. I can also tell you that in any organization, the peer to peer exchange of information frequently runs into bottlenecks. Or to put in more in laymans terms, your organization has a group of people with a set of skills, If people are unable to convey those skills to each other in order to effectively aggregate that skill set and come up with a working solution then you end up looking for solutions on Slashdot. That said, the place the question was put was one of the better ones. I have 90% of your solution, right now in my head as we speak. That notion of 90% of your solution comes from experience working with some of that gear and software myself. The problem is that the technical members of your organization lack a gathering and focus point for the frank and basic exchange of information. I should know. If you really wanted this problem fixed, the talent already lies within the organization to have it done. You just haven't aggregated that talent. Or to say it in a worse way, Teamwork is how its done. This team member is more than frustrated to see a posting on Slashdot. But i am knowledgeable that some good suggestions may come forth as a result of said posting. That said, I wrote all this after smoking two joints, so any comments about marijuana and the lack of ability to think clearly should be analyzed for actual substance. Thats my two cents for the moment.

Repeaters are not the answer (2)

thegarbz (1787294) | 1 year,28 days | (#44666649)

Repeaters are for boosting individual signals. They often promise extended range and coverage, but do nothing for added capacity. If you're in a bit of a low coverage area chances are your repeater will lock onto a handful of towers. Suddenly presenting the network infrastructure with 100 new devices at one node will result in very poor quality of service. Only a handful of devices will work at any given time and they will likely chop and change where one device suddenly has massive bandwidth and a second later no signal. We just did something similar at a local event out west. We had roughly 100 people there, and one of them was a network engineer at one of our telcos. Basically he put it up for emergency use only. If more than 5 people tried to use it at a time the system went splat and would take a while to come good again.

What you need is proper infrastructure with portable cell towers backhauling the data to the network, not repeaters which suddenly present a load onto a cell tower which was never in their design case. I would suggest contact the telcos and see if they can provide something like this. For a big enough event and some free advertising you may be in luck.

sound? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44666833)

does the sound make a noise? oh, you mean Puget Sound. :D i was like, is this a music festival or something? that shows you how familiar i am about Seattle.

bandwidth switching down to 2G? isn't that GPRS? Are phones and cell phone equipment still compatible with 2G / GPRS? just asking because I see commercials talking about 4G and 2G; i haven't heard much of 2G any more.

carrier,, (1)

arsemonkey (1970712) | 1 year,28 days | (#44667025)

No idea about open mesh or any of that crap, but I can tell you that on those western facing slopes Verizon has the best coverage. Yes, they are ass-hats to deal with, but their coverage is pretty good if you go that route.

Ask those who do it for a living. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44667115)

Those that know.... (2)

jfalcon (163956) | 1 year,28 days | (#44667183)

First, why not engage the community like Seattle Wireless to see if they're willing to setup a mesh in the park. They're a non-profit, your a non-profit...

I don't think your end goal was to provide coverage for everyone. If you have a bunch of people watching netflix while at the park, then why have live entertainment? Having a bunch of people all wired in would harsh my buzz instead of it being a social event.

Understandably for concessions, you'll need wifi or connectivity of somekind to keep capitalism alive. For that you can set up a small wifi-mesh across the concessions which are at the south end of the park and link it to one of the buildings up the hill via point-to-point mesh. That way you're not having to cover the entire length of the park (where there is still minimal coverage for 911/sms/etc. services) and still have something a little quicker than dialup for the vendors who paid money to setup stands for the event.

I doubt you want the event donation fees being swallowed up by trying to setup something elaborate when business functional will do.

Look at Burning Man (4, Informative)

nick0909 (721613) | 1 year,28 days | (#44667195)

Going on right now (well, starting soon) is the greatest wild party in the middle of nowhere, 2 hours from the closes cell signal, and they have internet access. Ask some of the Burning Man guys to help with such a setup. They don't use 4G, but they have T1s in nearby towns and they microwave it out to the festival site. It works very well, even in the worst dust storms, and is not nearly as reliant on the whims of cellular carriers.

You are probably fighting for signal with everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44667441)

each carrier cell site only has a specific capacity... you are likely fighting for an uplink to the tower with all of the people attending the festival... unless the hippies don't carry cell phones... Contact the carriers - i have seen verizon deploy additional temporary cell sites for large events... not sure if the other carriers do the same..

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