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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.