I've been thinking a good bit about setting up a WAN in the Wexford area recently, and have come up with a few ideas, some of which may seem far fetched.
Does anyone know if any permission is needed to put a very small wireless base station on a hill or mountain? I've made a few plans in my head (nothing on paper) for a totally unattended base station. Basically it would consist of a normal base station (they sell for around £200 - 300), a car battery, and solar panel. The battery alone could keep it running for over 2 weeks I beleive without charging, and when there's sun, the solar panels would charge the battery and power the station. It would have a fairly small omnidirectional antenna, and if necessary, a directional antenna to link it to another base station, which would probably work for around 20miles. I'd expect reliable connections at 11mbit to work for approx 10 miles assuming the normal user has a directional antenna.
Assuming a basic backbone was established, and a few members came onto the network, the next task would be getting a connection to the net. In this area, Chorus won't have powernet till next year, and probably no adsl for a century, so the only decent net access it could have it through Beam, which at the moment is better value than €ircon's adsl (400k down, 128k up, no transfer limits, for £125/month and no phone needed). If friaco came out, one way satellite i.e. Satnode (300k approx) could be used to provide a connection (satnode is €40/month plus phone costs). If friaco does come out, then some kind of isdn setup could be used as a gateway for people wanting to play multiplayer games on the net. Of course if some ISP would sponsor it, and say give a leased line for free, then that would be a reliable and low ping solution.
For network services, I'd devote a server to it, probably running game servers for UT, Q3A, e.t.c. so that members could join it at any time, and also a local messaging service (can't remember the name but it's like icq, but for a 'private' network).
Speeds; currently 11MBit is the max speed of wireless networks, but there is a new standard being made, which will allow speeds above 50MBit.
If there was good interest, then numerous unattended base stations could be set up, and users on different stations would be able to communicate with each other via a dedicated 11MBit link, but would probably have little load, as I'd hope that each base station would have its own net connection somewhere.
I know none of this will happen unless there is sufficient interest; probably need 10 people interested, and within range of the first base station to make it worth while, and to make it affordable (each home setup would probably cost around £200 at a guess (sterling) ).