Monday, 2 August 2010

Tech news from NLTC

For Ethical Reasons We Avoid Use of Israeli Products in Our IT Solutions

I have officially commenced my biggest project to date - building a wireless Wide Area Network (WAN) across a camp site. If we pull this off, this will put NLTC in the next level.

This project has been in the pipe works since about May. That is when I carried out a site survey to be able to come up with a proposal. We offered a combination of a cabled LAN as well as a wireless WAN across a bigger area. There is also a voice component to the project which will serve as an intercom for the time being and can later be converted to a full-fledged PABX and VOIP too.

My chief techie Linga was sure of the Access Point he wanted to use way in the beginning. He had done the research on the Internet. Moreover, we found out that this particular brand is being sold here in the market giving us more confidence in its ability to function in Liberia's climate as we would need to mount this outdoors. A client in the same industry has also used the same Access Point.

I also need antennas to work in conjunction with these babies. I was told I needed omni directional antennas well as third party high gain ones. I am pretty sure I got the hang of it. Thank God for the Internet, Wikipedia and Google.

Below is a good explanation for the average laywoman like me:

"The single most important thing you can do to extend the range of your 802.11 system is to install an external antenna with some good gain and directional or omni-directional qualities. WiFi is simply a radio, which is used for computer. You can think of your antenna as the “speaker system” of your WiFi card. Get a bigger antenna; your WiFi will go a lot further."

The Access Point is a radio and the antenna is needed to amplify the signal. Big. Learning. Curve.

I consulted the sales rep of this company several times in order to finalise my proposal. I went through the plan with my staff. I got them to draw diagrams so I could visualise the whole thing. I worked on the pricing, the quantities. I figured out my sequencing, my duration. I had to come up with a labour fee.

I did not send out the proposal until I was actually in Pakistan. Sent it to the client and got it approved from Islamabad. What a good feeling it was. But honestly until I get the whole thing, I'll be much more relaxed about it.

NLTC was paid in advance for the project making it even sweeter.

When I started to do the purchasing of the stuff - we are ordering most of it directly from the US - I realised the antennas recommended by the company are manufactured by an Israeli company. In fact they even supply the Israeli Army. They have an entire section of their website for military orders.

I started looking for other antennas with the same specs. Man, did I create additional work for myself. I went back to the same company to ask them to recommend another product. The fellow just seemed to lose interest in me as a customer after that. He says, that is the only product he can definitely recommend. I went 'hunting' on the Internet for 5 GHZ high gain antennas and found a few options. So each time I go back to the company, he does not give me definite answers.

A sales rep for some other antennas was quite helpful in helping me to make my decision, offering me technical details and seemingly-good advice.

So after having gone back and forth, forth and back, to and fro, I have finally made up my mind and figured out which antenna I am going to use.

In the end, I am glad I could make this decision. We have felt helpless watching the state of Israel go around acting without any restraint, any sense of good will, any fair play for as long we can remember. So when this project comes along and I realise that I could be buying and using an Israeli product, I went and found a substitute. Of course, the company that I am buying the Access Points has - obviously - a partnership with this Israeli company because the freaking sales rep is recommending it officially. Maybe there's networking stuff I use right NOW is Israeli that I don't know about. Maybe some nut or bolt or wall box or router or cable. Who knows. I need to start investigating and learn more about the industry that I am now part of.

For the time being, it feels good!! Like a "nice pile drive to the face" in the words of Nacho Libre.

Now I just hope my network works!!

Interesting facts to make my day:
Wireless Wide Area Networks are wireless networks that typically cover large outdoor areas.

"An effective antenna solution increases the range and corresponding coverage of a wireless LAN, which decreases costs because of fewer access points."

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