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How we installed fast internet in our tiny village

August 17, 2021
Edo Sadikovic
The internet in Sende is faster than in most of Germany. We are located in a 20 inhabitants village, in the Spanish mountains and the same solution could work anywhere in the world.


Currently, our download speed is around 160Mbps on average and upload speed is 180Mbps. It means that we can watch 5 different series on Netflix, have 8 video meetings and google recipes at the same time.

Sende is one of the oldest rural coworking & coliving spaces on the planet. A "modern" office with beds where we host creative professionals and freelancers from around the world to work online.


The biggest challenge of Sende was the fast internet connection. Until now. 


The perfect mix of brains and technology helped us to finally get a better connection and this is how we did it. 


If you are running a coliving space in a village, or you need better connection for serious work at your home, this blog post might help you. 


In this text you will read:

1. How we installed fast internet connection (so you can do the same)
2. How to spread internet all over the village
3. How to talk to the company if a fiber connection is nearby but they don’t want to install it?  
4. How we finally come up with these solutions
5. Other options to bring better internet to your village


1. How we brought fast internet connection (so you can do same)



A fiber optic connection (which is a fast internet that most cities have) was installed in a larger village called Lobeira. 


However, no company wanted to bring the same fiber connection to our village called Senderiz. Senderiz is 6km away from Lobeira by the road and only 2km by air.


These companies just don’t care about small businesses and rural development (we learned this after more than 100 calls and emails to different operators, managers and directors).


All of them used similar prepared scripts to reject us politely. Our advice is not to waste energy with these kinds of corporations. 


But no worries. Let’s start with our solution: 


Senderiz (our village) is located 2km away by air from Lobeira.


Julien, an engineer from Belgium who stayed in Sende told us that we need Point to Point antennas to send this fast connection to our village through the air. (At the end of this blog you may read the thinking process around this solution). 


Learning about the existence of Point to Point antennas was a ground step for us. 


Here is a step by step process:


  1. To bring the same connection, you need to find the closest town or a village that already has a fiber connection. If you can see this village with binoculars, then you can bring fast connection through the air.

  2. The next step is to find a house or a public building that will allow you to install internet on their address (and from there you will send internet to your village through the air). If it’s a public building then you can present your project to the officials and explain the situation.

    If it’s a private house, then you can ask to install the internet and offer them internet for free. Or you may pay this house for this service because you will need to drill at least one hole in their wall. 


Drone photo which shows the distance from air between 2 small villages connected with the same internet connection

We installed internet in Lobeira. From there we project internet through the air with Point to Point antennas. These antennas need to look to each other. That is important requirement. Drone photo: Alex


In our case we went to the mayor’s office in Lobeira to ask if we can use one public building to install our internet on that address.

Mayor said: No problemo.

So we called an internet company and said: “Hey, we want to install an internet connection in Lobeira”.

They came and installed it. At the same time we installed the first Point to Point antenna. From the main router in Lobeira there is literally one ethernet cable that goes to this Point to Point antenna. That’s it.

Tip: A technician who comes to install the internet can help you to install this antenna. You may ask them politely and maybe tip them. They have all the tools and they will do it very fast.

We connected the main  router with one cable to this Point to Point antenna.

This Point to Point antenna needs to have direct visibility with the place that needs the internet (our coworking space in Sende). That is the only condition.

Step number 3: Install a second Point to Point antenna in our village. This antenna is going to receive a signal from the first antenna in Lobeira. 


Photo of our point to point antenna which points to anoher antenna in Lobeira
 airMAX NanoBeam AC 5 GHz  - point to point antenna which connects internet in 2 villages
This is our antenna. Also called bridge. Model - airMAX NanoBeam AC 5 GHz Bridge Price: 95€ each. Total: 200€ with shipping (for two antennas).
A holder for  point to point antenna
TIP: We used metal holders from old satellite dishes to mount these antennas. If you don’t have an old satellite dish, you can go to the “Punto limpio” space (where people can get rid of their technology) and just take a few antenna holders.




Step number 4: Connect the second antenna with Ethernet cable to our router in Senderiz. This router now receives internet from Lobeira and it can also sendsWiFi (internet)  to your room - house - coworking space.



This is it. You may order equipment and install all of this in one day. If you have one house that needs connection, you just need these 4 steps.


Now we are about to explain a few more steps so you can get an even better internet that could be spread all over the village (the following part can be useful to other coliving spaces). 


Step number 5: We bought the router which receives the internet and then we bought a good access point which connects to this router. Only job of this access point is to send better WiFi (internet) signals to our coworking space. 

Router and point to point antenna are connected with one ethernet cable
This black box is router. We bought EdgeRouter X, from Ubiquiti but you can buy any other brand. So, the Bridge or Point to Point antenna (located in a place where you want to receive internet) connects one Ethernet cable to this black router. POE is adapter which gives electricity to the router. Bridge antenna has it's own POE (adapter). If you buy this brand, you need to order these POE adapters separately (8€ each). Edge router costs 47€

Then after installing Point to Point antennas, we added this black router (which receives internet).

Now in one empty slot of this black router we add another ethernet cable (like this blue cable on the photo, but this time it goes to another empty slot). And from there we connect it to the access point (which is device that spreads internet in your home or a coworking spot).

We bought this one: 

Photo of the access point with a price of 79€. This access point receives internet from the router and then spreads wifi.
A cable from the black router goes to this Access Point. You set up this device with an app (easy instructions on the box).


This one has WiFI 6 technology which is very good. With our old router we were receiving speeds of 50Mbps/50Mbps, and now with the new one we receive from 160Mbps to 250Mbps.

Access point, black router, both antennas need energy. Their energy has so called POE adapter. You need to buy it separately. Point to Point antennas use different POE adapter (not to make a mistake).

This is POE adapter. On the photo is a price for 3.


PoE injector - a device which connects Access points and converters with electricity. Like adaptor for the phones
This is just a device which connects electricity with other devices. Like adaptor for the phone.


Step number 6: Now we bought a TP-Link switch (because we needed more space - more empty slots in the previous router) to spread internet in the village. To this switch we connected first another long ethernet cable (8 meters long) and we brought this cable to another room in Sende. 

This is the model we bought for 18€: TP-Link TL-SG105 - Switch 5 Puertos 10/100/1000 MBps

Or you can buy bigger Edge Router with more slots (like this you don't need a switch).


We bought another access point which is connected to this 8m long cable.

Now our garden has a good connection.

Step number 7: OK, we have a good connection in a village but how do we bring the same connection to another coworking space which is 300m far away from this first one.

Here comes Alex, a developer from Booking.com. We were walking around Sende and I mentioned that we need a solution to bring the internet to this coworking space.

He just said: “Just pull the fiber optics cable and you will get the same connection without any problems”.

First we called the mayor to ask if we can use the city council’s public posts to deploy this cable through their posts.

Mayor said: No problemo.

Then we called two technicians, who had all the equipment to climb posts and to deploy these cables.

They did this work in less than 5 hours. They charged around 200€ for the service.

A man deploying fiber optics cables in Senderiz village
Deploying fiber optic cables from one house to another (around 300m of distance).

Photo shows the road of fiber optics cables which are bringing internet connection from one house to another
Yellow line is a drawing of the route of the cable. It goes 300 m in total. From the one coworking to another coworking in Sende.



Then we bought 2 Converters which are needed to send internet from the Sende’s router into the fiber optics cable. Another converter is needed to receive the internet from the fiber optics cables in another coworking space. This looks complicated, but actually it’s all about plugging cables in and that’s it. It just works. No installation needed.

These converters have different pieces that you need to buy: 

Converters and it's equipement - these converters connect router with fiber optics cables
SFP modules are two  metalic devices that are going into UFiber AE Converter (one in one, another in another one). However, these SFP modules are different. Blue one has to go one end, and yellow one on another end). UFiber Ae Converter needs to have own PoE (electricity adapter). Then Ethernet cable from UFiber Converter goes to the Access point in the second coworking space.

Fiber optics cables which are connecting internet converters with access points and routers
And one more thing. You will need to buy 2 of these cables, each costs 10 euros. They connect a box that fiber optics technitians will install. Basically, these cables are going from both fiber optics cables to the SFP Modules on both ends.

Please pay attention that one end of this cable is blue and another green. Green is a standard one, but blue one not. So you need to order this specific model of the cable.


Then we connected another access point which sends WiFi and internet signals to this other coworking space in the white house.

Connection is still very fast, like in the first coworking space.

Tip: If you want to connect houses and spaces with fiber optics cables, you will need professionals who have a special machine that connects the light inside of these fiber cables. This device costs a fortune and you only need it once. So just hire technicians.

Maybe the same one who comes to install fiber optics for the official company. We hired another guy, but these technicians will often accept extra work on Saturday. Just ask.

Drawing with a map which shows how we brought internet to a tiny village in Senderiz
Here is the map of our installations. Start following cables from Lobeira.




How to install all these routers, converters and access points?


It’s quite easy, each of these softwares comes with simple instructions (maximum 5 steps). It’s all about plugging cables.

When you install Point to Point antenna and Access point, they both come with one app for your phone. When you install the app, you just follow the installation process (just clicking on one button and that is it). There you can change the name of your network and add your internet password.

Point to point antennas need to look at each other, and the app tells you in which direction you should move it. Basically these are very tiny moves until you receive info that the signal is good. 



That is it.

We solved the internet problem after 8 years, thanks to the brains of our friends and guests and this new technology.


How to spread internet to nearby houses or spaces: 


  1. The best is if you use fiber optics cables, but then you need to call technicians to make this connection and you will need to buy transformators from step number 7. This is the best solution for longer distances. 
  2. Or you can buy more Point to Point antennas and repeat the same process like we did from Lobeira to Senderiz (just this time it’s for in between the houses). 
  3. You may use Ethernet cable for short distances. Plug it in the router or to switch, then add another router or access point on the other end of the cable. 
  4. You may use PowerLine devices in case your houses are connected on the same electricity. This means that the internet is passing through electricity. When you put a PowerLine, form there put another Ethernet cable inside of your router or the access point. 
  5. You can also buy internet extenders (when you receive very low signal, then this extender makes this signal stronger). These extenders needs to be good in order to repeat good signal. 


  6. Another great solution is to install MESH network. Please google it to understand how it works.







What are other options to bring internet to a remote village: 


C: You can also bring the internet through 4G connection. Many companies offer unlimited options, but the internet will not be super fast. We had 4G routers with only 20Mbps download speed and 1Mbps upload speed. Even though this connection could be faster, Telefonica only offered these kinds of routers which were blocked for a high speed.

Check what is situation in your country and ask for these kind of solutions which are often not published on the web.


D: Apply for the Starlink - Elon Musk’s internet. It comes soon to Europe. We have already received an invitation to test it (but we didn't do it). It is still not super fast, but it can reach any spot. Probably in the next 2 years this internet will be very popular. It’s much better than the previous satellite internet, because this one is apparently flying much closer in the orbit and it’s using better technology.


E: Contract satellite internet. We were using this one in 2013 - 2016. However, there was only one company in Spain called Eurona and I don’t recommend them. We were paying 100GB for 110€. 100GB is nothing for one coworking space. In the evening, after 00:00 - 06:00 AM they had unlimited  slow internet. 


When we spent 100GB in one month, they were charging around 60€ for an extra 10GB which is crazy.

They even charged us 150€ to cancel the contract after we complained that their internet became even slower than before.

So I don’t recommend Eurona in Spain, which is probably the same company all over the world, just with different names. They will sell you Max speed, but reality is slower. Even a technician from this company told us to look for another solution. 



How to talk to the company when a fiber connection is nearby but they don’t want to install it at your place?  

 

Call the company and ask to install the internet on some random (not yours) address where the internet officially arrives.

The morning when the technician (who comes to install cables) calls you, tell them that you are at another address.

They will pull cable for you.

This is a standard procedure and we received this tip from the technician.

You see, when you speak with this big company, there are almost no faces involved. They just hire a bunch of small companies to work in the call center and to install the internet for you.

So the person in the call center will tell you that it is impossible to install internet in your street (even the other street has the connection) because the instructions are like this and they don’t care.

What do you do?

You say that you live on an address which has the internet (and after you change this information).

When the technician comes, he or she doesn’t work for this corporation, they work for a small company which is hired by this big corporation. And they get paid when they install new connections. So, they will pull this cable for you even if it’s in the street which officially doesn’t receive internet.

In Spain this distance is a maximum 400m. They can pull this cable up to 400m and that’s why we had to use Point to Point antenna because they didn’t want to pull 2km long cable without official approval. 


Even if it’s a bit more than 400m meters, then they will apply for a CTO box (cheap plastic box) which has to be officially approved by the big corp.

Ours was never approved. Maybe this will not be the case with you.



Thank you


Now we have the internet in all spaces and it’s fast.

Thanks for reading and feel free to share this article with anyone who needs better connection.

Better internet in rural areas can transform the rural. Forever.


Huge thanks to Julien from Canada who told us about Point to Point antennas, to Ovi from Romania/US who helped us install first Point to Point antennas, to Viktor from Germany who noticed that old router was too slow and that we should install access points, to Kevin from France for his carpentry skills, to Alex from Ukraine, who told us about fiber optics between houses, to Vedran for engineering cables, to the mayor of Lobeira, to Alex from Germany for drone shots and to everyone else who stayed with us and suffered old connection, but steel believed in idea of Sende.

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Sende is a village home for people who work online, hidden in the Spanish mountains. 

“Offices” with a mountain view where you get to meet international people while cooking together. 

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