[TowerTalk] hosting a commercial service on my tower

Doug Ronald doug at dougronald.com
Wed Jan 22 15:27:54 EST 2014

Relative to the RFI issue, I have a comment. 

On my rural property, I had no access to any Internet connection other than
the poor performance satellite services. I found a small (four persons from
what I can tell) ISP with a 5 GHz backhaul service who placed an access
point near my communications tower giving me 5 Mbps down, and 1 Mbps up for
a reasonable price. If they add more customers to the access point, I get
the service for free. I am off the grid and supply the power to their
equipment from my solar plant. They are using less than 100 Watts presently
which is in the noise as far as I'm concerned. Everything so far is totally
informal, however they mentioned there would be some kind of contract if
they add another client to the access point.

Relative to the EMI/RFI issue, their equipment generated totally intolerable
noise in the lower HF bands. It completely wiped-out 75 meters and 40
meters. Since I was the only customer on their access point, I was free to
perform experiments to find where the noise was being generated. Their
Ubiquity switch is powered with a 24 VDC power supply which is a switcher
and that is the culprit. I placed all of their equipment in a sealed steel
enclosure with 110 dB line filters on the line and neutral. The noise is now
just detectable during the daytime when the 75 meter band is dead, and
completely overridden at night by atmospheric noise. My other option is to
replace their switcher with a linear supply. I fortunately found no noise on
the HF bands from digital signals traversing the CAT 5E shielded cables they

-Doug AE6SY

-----Original Message-----
From: TowerTalk [mailto:towertalk-bounces at contesting.com] On Behalf Of Dick
Green WC1M
Sent: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 10:34 PM
To: towertalk at contesting.com
Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] hosting a commercial service on my tower

Thanks to all who replied to my query. I got some great advice.

Several responders indicated that there would inevitably be some RFI to my
ham station. That's simply not acceptable. I'm a serious HF contester, and
here on the East Coast my relatively modest station has been capable of top
ten finishes in the major contests -- even top five in WPX CW. There's no
way I can tolerate any sort of line noise or interference anywhere in the
six contest bands. As one responder pointed out, I spent a lot of money on
my installation, far more than would be repaid by free fiber installation
and service. I'm not willing to trade my favorite avocation in ham radio
even for a larger financial payback. 

That said, I have a contesting friend who had a wireless ISP relay on his
tower for years, and there was no interference. But I haven't seen a
proposal for the equipment they would install. I'd like to know more about
that before ruling out a deal.

I knew before I posted that my permit could be the key issue: the town has
strict zoning ordinances for commercial towers. But the restrictions and
height limit are waived for private antenna structures. My permit was
obtained for a private antennas structure, so a variance or special waiver
would be required. That could open Pandora's box with my neighbors who,
because of excellent tree cover, are probably unaware that I even have a

Finally,  there are a lot of complications with a deal like this, and many
strict terms I would have to insist on in the contract. I'm dealing with
what I believe is a very small company, and I'm skeptical that they have the
knowhow or resources to deal with what will surely be my requirements. 

As one respondent asked, if you have the resources to put up such a tower,
why would the installation fee and internet service be compelling to you?
The answer is mainly impatience, which is never a good justification for
doing something like this. Due to delays with ISPs signing up to lease
capacity on the main fiber trunk that runs past my house (it's owned by a
non-profit), it's likely the wireless ISP in question, who has signed up,
could bring me very high-speed internet service a year or more sooner than
one of the regular ISPs in the area.  But it might be best to wait it out. 

Thanks again for the replies.

73, Dick WC1M


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