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Looking for best practices and feedback on whether to use fiber or radio ("air fiber") in a certain situation ...

=== BACKGROUND ===

--- Project involves providing Internet access to several hundred endpoints in a residential/campus type of setting (approx 50 acres)

--- Endpoints will have a WiFi hot spot, VOIP phone, and TV

--- Typical bandwidth requirement at each endpoint is 5-10 Mbps

--- For TV, amenable to a pure OTT video solution (e.g., video over TCP/IP HLS) versus multicast

--- Have proposals from several providers to use a Gigabit Ethernet solution with a star topology connected via single mode fiber (runs up to 1/4 mile or more)

--- But have also seen solutions using point-to-point radio instead of fiber at a fraction of the price of fiber proposal (e.g., Ubiquiti airFiber)

=== QUESTION ===

When/is point-to-point radio a viable alternative to fiber distribution in a case like this? What are the considerations and trade offs in terms of performance, quality of service, robustness, and long term value?

Thanks for any feedback!

  • Residential networking questions are specifically off-topic for this forum. Also, the answers will be primarily opinion-based. The Help Center has guidelines to help you write a better question. – Ron Maupin Oct 21 '15 at 18:08
  • Thanks, Ron. Is there a better forum for this question elsewhere on StackExchange? – gcl1 Oct 21 '15 at 18:20
  • If you can edit your question to meet the guidelines, we can help with the design, but you really don't want to ask questions that lead to opinion-based answers. Something more along the lines of wanting to get the pros and cons of solutions A and B. Keep it so that it can be answered objectively rather than subjectively. – Ron Maupin Oct 21 '15 at 18:29
  • Yes thanks - I know from my experience on StackOverflow that helps a lot. At this point my question is not yet into the details. Just looking for a way to understand technical and operational pros/cons of fiber vs. radio for the campus environment. – gcl1 Oct 21 '15 at 20:02
  • Did any answer help you? if so, you should accept the answer so that the question doesn't keep popping up forever, looking for an answer. Alternatively, you could provide and accept your own answer. – Ron Maupin Aug 12 '17 at 20:09
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In general, point-to-point wireless is a "last resort" solution -- either due to cost or lack of access to infrastructure (eg. right of way.) Over longer distances, it can be harder to setup (eg. aim.) And it will suffer from environmental factors (heat, rain, snow, birds, squirrels, etc.) The equipment will be rather expensive, but installation costs will be low. (nailing a dish to the side of a building isn't labor intensive)

Fiber (single-mode) is a much more robust, and future-proof, solution. Bandwidth is only limited by what you attach to it. Fiber is fairly cheap, and plentiful these days. The main expense is in installation -- conduits, trenching, etc. But once done, fiber will last decades, and you'll have conduits to quickly add more when needed.

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Your clients suffer from bandwidth limitations should wireless (half-duplex or full-duplex) be used. That is considered a bad solution as the wireless will be subject to many sorts of interference including weather and idiots who think it is fun to disrupt or piggy back on your wireless.

Whereas with single-mode fibre you can easily upgrade from 1G to 10G or more when there is need for it. It is way more secure than wireless, scalable and you only have to worry about backhoes digging where they shouldn't. Which is rare but does happen. Go with fibre, it is the proper solution.

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  • airFiber is not half-duplex. But it does have it's limitations. – Ricky Beam Oct 21 '15 at 20:22
  • @Ricky Beam - Thanks for the tip, read their doco and it can be both. Have edited the post. Still would not recommend airFiber as the primary solution. Fibre is the way to go. – user4565 Oct 22 '15 at 19:01

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