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We are looking to implement WiFi on some of our private buses. We are in the early step of the process and we are gathering information.

How does WiFi works on a bus that is roaming around the country? The bus will not always be in town and we'd like the to keep the internet connection alive.

What kind of equipment would be required?

The bus should host about 20 passengers, and we assume that not all of them will be carrying a WiFi enabled device. We of course want to throttle the bandwidth so that we can control the amount of data transferred so that we don't end up with a huge end of month bill.

The bus will be travelling around North America, excluding Mexico.

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closed as off topic by Ben Pilbrow, RobM, womble, Zoredache, jscott Aug 23 '11 at 23:39

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Can you add some information such as your geographical location? –  Dave M Aug 23 '11 at 20:56
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Are you the IT guy for the company? This seems like something that you might want to bring in a consultant to do. We can throw suggestions, but this is a large-scale design decision. You probably want to pay for a solution, I would guess. –  Matt Simmons Aug 23 '11 at 21:30
    
Yes I'm the IT guy, I will not be implementing any of this, but I am gathering some information for my superior. –  Pierre-Alain Vigeant Aug 23 '11 at 21:37
    
Gather the information from a consultant. Seriously. –  womble Aug 23 '11 at 22:14

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The vehicle (or something within the vehicle) needs to have a satellite or mobile broadband uplink that provides the connection to the remote network (Internet, private LAN, whatever). Then you have an access point that provides the WiFi to the occupants of the vehicle. This access point is either integrated into the uplink or is somehow bridged to it, it'll depend on what devices you use. You can do this with many modern smartphones, although I'm not sure what the limitations are as far as simultaneous connections and I'd be hesitant to provide this at this scale.

If the occupants are not all carrying a WiFi enabled device then you would want to have a switch for them to connect hardwired.

I wouldn't expect great throughput on this one at this point in the game unless you're willing to throw a lot of money at it.

[Don't forget to include the AC power source]

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I've seen this done where the vehicle's internet connection was actually a VPN (done with some trickery with their 3G provider), and then took the user to a captive portal to do their payment details. Saves you from having to put captive portal servers on the bus, and means that you can maintain your internet that you paid for if you change buses. Also, because the bandwidth via 3G/sattelite is fairly low, any decent internet connection could easilly handle the combined traffic of all the vehicles. –  Mark Henderson Aug 23 '11 at 21:50
    
I don't think end users on a bus have a reasonable expectation of wired network access onboard - the WiFi is an optional service to begin with. Here's a link to an article about an ISP (one of the last independent ones) that has deployed WiFi on a fleet of commuter buses in the San Francisco North Bay - sonic.net/whatsnew/busjrnl-articles/110507 –  anastrophe Aug 23 '11 at 22:28

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