We've Got Wireless!
By Lynn Torkelson
TORCH LAKE TOWNSHIP -- A couple months ago all of our company’s computers
connected to the Internet through direct telephone lines. Not any more. By
switching to PastyNET’s new wireless service, we’re now exchanging Internet
information 8 to 10 times faster than we did before. A single wireless
transceiver serves all the computers on our local network, allowing us to
eliminate the expense of separate phone lines to each computer.
I happened to mention to Michele Anderson that our company, SoftMedia
Artisans, Inc., is using the new wireless service, and she surprised me by
asking me to report about it for Keweenaw Now. In the interest of full
disclosure, I want to mention that PastyNET donates the hosting of Keweenaw
Now through the PastyNET Web
Hosting Service Grant Program. However, SoftMedia Artisans, Inc., has no
business relationship with PastyNET aside from purchasing wireless service at PastyNET's
PastyNET general manager, who installed the wireless transceiver (only 5 inches
square and 3 inches thick) at our location on Portage Lake south of Dollar Bay,
had kept me informed of his plans to install a wireless access point at the top
of the Quincy Mine, and I had kept pestering him to put our company at the top
of his list once the Quincy Mine access point was operational. Happily, our
southern location fit neatly into Charlie's plans. He explained that the access
point now installed at the Quincy Mine serves a 90-degree angle that sweeps from
South Range to Point Mills. Charlie had already installed and tested a
transceiver in South Range and wanted to make sure that he could do so
successfully in our Point Mills area as well.
|The Quincy Mine access point is in the
direct line of sight from our location on Portage Lake, south
of Dollar Bay. (Photo by Constance Petersen © 2003 SoftMedia
As technicians ourselves, we naturally peppered Charlie with questions about
the software he had loaded on his laptop to measure wireless performance at our
location and about the capabilities of the transceiver itself. He put up with
us with grace and good humor as we hovered closely around him. We watched as his
software even measured the precise distance from our location to the Quincy Mine
-- 4.76 miles as the crow flies.
Charlie demonstrated that the transceiver can communicate successfully from
inside or outside the building, through glass or wood: more exactly, through
dead wood but not through living wood! From time to time, he checked with his
son, Jonathan Hopper, PastyNET's
systems administrator, who could monitor transmissions from the other end.
During his conversations with Jonathan over our cordless phone, Charlie's
software detected some interference with our wireless signal. He explained
that we could overcome this by using a cordless phone with a different frequency
or by positioning the transceiver in a forward location. We settled on an
outside location for the transceiver to ensure peak performance; and when
Charlie left we had a fast, stable wireless connection through PastyNET, with
the transceiver attached flush to an exterior wall and the cable running
temporarily through a sliding glass door.
The next day Nick (my oldest son) and I engineered the permanent installation
for the transceiver. Of course we created a permanent, protected entry for the
cable. We could have reattached the transceiver flush to the exterior wall, as
it had been installed originally -- but that's just not our way. Instead, we built
a strong, adjustable base for the transceiver so we could point it precisely at
the Quincy Mine in hopes of squeezing out another 2 or 3 percent in performance.
Pleased with our success, we plan to convert our company's local network to
wireless in the weeks ahead.
| PastyNET now has a wireless antenna here on the
Quincy Mine Hoist, located on U.S. 41 near Hancock. This
aerial view was taken right after installation of the antenna -- the small white dot on the catwalk between and
above the upper 2 windows. The small antenna is hardly visible on the historic structure, a cooperating
site of Keweenaw National Historical Park. (Photo © 2003 Rick Anderson
of www.skypixs.com and courtesy Pasty.com)
During our time with Charlie, we questioned him about his plans for expanding
PastyNET's wireless service. He explained that PastyNET is working to blanket
our area with wireless service by installing access points strategically in high
locations. The original access point at St. Anne's bell tower serves downtown
Calumet, Centennial Heights and the Renaissance zone. The Quincy Mine access
point now serves South Range, Houghton and portions of Hancock. PastyNET plans
to expand the Quincy Mine access point to serve a full 360 degrees instead of
the current 90 degrees.
"This summer, other installations are planned to extend PastyNET's wireless service to Lake Linden and into Keweenaw
County," Charlie said recently. "Communities targeted for future expansion include: Mohawk, Eagle River, Eagle Harbor, Copper
Harbor and Lac LaBelle (via Mt. Horace Greeley)."*
PastyNET has worked closely with the Keweenaw National Historical Park to
ensure that the wireless access points do not detract from the appearance of our
historical buildings. The antenna used on each access point is very small and
"I'm pleased that it's so small that it can't be seen from the
road," said Ed Yarbrough, manager of Quincy Mine Hoist Association, whose
office now has a wireless connection at the Quincy Mine.
"The service is incredible," Yarbrough added.**
To compensate the organizations that provide the locations
for the wireless access points, PastyNET passes on 4% of the access charges, to
Keweenaw National Historical Park in our case and to St. Anne's for Calumet
In today's economy, our company, like most, keeps a very close eye on
expenses. We bought our high-gain wireless transceiver for less than $400, and
the quarterly charge for our wireless service actually runs less than the cost
of the phone lines we eliminated.
Learn more about the author of this guest column, Lynn
Visit the Keweenaw Now discussion forums to comment
on this article.
|Note: Views expressed by our guest columnists are not necessarily the views of Keweenaw Now.
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