So what is a community to do when they're buried in the forest and all of their rooftop views look like this:
900 Mhz to the tower 2 miles away? Worth a try, but no dice. The "magic" of licensed LTE on 3.65? Took it for a test drive and couldn't find a link anywhere behind these trees with it.
This rural community had no provider of interent other than satellite, so they were very motivated to find a solution. More than a year of testing and experimenting yielded no usable results, and we were about ready to give up.
Then the new Ubiquti horns came out. What we discovered was that the horns were able achieve 8x modulation between houses by going underneath the tree canopy. Here is a ground level view from one house looking towards the neighboring house:
Still not line of sight - heck you can't even see the other house through all those trees. Experimenting with the horns revealed that they were able to find a path through all those tree trunks and establish links between houses that were just like line of sight links. Other UBNT radios were also finding paths, but only with precision locating and aiming on both ends - something the horns didn't require. And being 5 Ghz spectrum means there would be enough channels available to actually do some relaying, unlike 2.4 or 900.
So the small community came together and all agreed to relay signals from house to house so they could get off of satellite.
The first order of business was finding a location for a gen2 Powerbeam with line of sight to the tower. This would serve as one of the backhauls for the broadband brigade. The edge of the treeline on one property did the trick. An anchored tripod with everything painted brown like the trees:
Power for the backhaul comes from an EP-R6 about 250 feet deep into the trees - also painted brown to camoflage it's presence. Direct-burial cable was buried from here to the backhaul dish:
Direct-burial cable also goes from this mid-forest relay to the first house in the brigade, which is also where this EP-R6 is getting it's power. We also have the first horn in the brigade - and here is what that horn sees:
Yikes, but with the assistance of a higher-gain 30 degree horn on the other end this link is a solid 8x with about 140 Mbps of capacity on a 20 Mhz channel. Here is the view from the other end:
Doesn't look to me like it would work, but it's holding a steady 8x no problem. Here is the ground-level view of the 30 degree horn - doesn't really stand out that much from the ground:
From the other side of the house a cute little fascia mount makes the link to the next house:
A soffit-mounted horn picks it up at the next house:
And on it goes until the brigade reaches the last house, where 300 foot of fencing gives us barely enough cable run to come out of the trees and mount a second backhaul dish:
In all there are a dozen houses participating in the broadband brigade. Each house has 2 radios to relay the bridge from one neighbor to the next, and those radios are powered by an EP-R6 at each house which also provides each house's routed connection onto the bridge. A backhaul dish on each end makes it tolerant of losing any single house in the bridgade, at which point the brigade will require adjustment if the break in the brigade will be permanent for some reason.
The bridge has an end-to-end capacity of 140 Mbps which is shared by all of the participants. Each house (as the relay point) adds about 1 ms of latency, so the longest distance to exiting the bridge is only about 12 ms max - still orders of magnitude better than satellite. Each house was also given a UPS battery to prevent power outages from disrupting connectivity to downstream neighbors.
140 Mbps of shared bandwidth with latencies in the low double digits makes this little forested community very happy. Thank you to Ubiquiti for making this possible!