Intro lớn Ubiquiti PtP & PtMP Radios

Omnidirectional vs. Point to lớn Point

In a typical Wi-Fi network, wireless access points use omnidirectional antennas. They broadcast in all directions, allowing nearby devices khổng lồ connect. Omnidirectional APs are good at covering the surrounding area, but bad at covering long distances. They usually cover a few hundred feet at most, and much less with walls or obstructions in the way. Additional APs can expand coverage, but a Wi-Fi network’s range is also limited by the low-powered phones và laptops that connect lớn it.

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To cover longer distances or extend a network khổng lồ another location, point-to-point (PtP) and point-to-multipoint (PtMP) radios should be used instead. PtP và PtMP radios use antennas that have higher gain and are more directional. They are bad for broad coverage, but much better for long range connections. Rather than broadcast over an entire area, they focus their energy in a single direction. This allows them to cover longer distances than omnidirectional antennas.

It’s impossible to cover everything about PtP và PtMP radios in a single post. This introduction focuses on the fundamentals. In future parts of this guide I’ll cover links planning, configuration, installation, and maintenance. First we have to lớn go through the basics of PtP & PtMP radios, explain Ubiquiti’s many sản phẩm lines, and which frequencies và models khổng lồ consider. This guide won’t thiết kế your network for you, but it should help you understand how to design your own.

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A long distance PtP link using an AirFiber 5XHD & RF Elements UltraHorn (top right), with 3 LTU Rockets forming a PtMP network.


PtP & PtMP radios bridge a network from Site A lớn Site B, transporting data back và forth. At the most basic level, you can think of them as a wireless cable. A more accurate mô tả tìm kiếm is that they act as a transparent layer 2 wireless Ethernet bridge. They convert Ethernet into a wireless signal, and a wireless signal into Ethernet. Radios are mainly responsible for transporting traffic and ensuring bits get sent and received reliably.

Some radios offer basic routing, NAT, or firewall features, but usually other equipment controls the networks & the devices that connect khổng lồ them. If you want to segment và restrict traffic, you’ll want to địa chỉ cửa hàng a dedicated router or firewall. That is the best way to prevent unwanted access to devices on either side of a PtP or PtMP network. In most situations, you need a radio to allow access, và a router, switch, or firewall khổng lồ prevent it.

Omnidirectional APs have a very limited range, but PtP & PtMP radios are not as limited. The exact range varies based on frequency, radio and antenna choice, transmit power, và many other factors. With the right equipment, it’s possible lớn make fast wireless liên kết that are several miles long.

There are many aspects of PtP & PtMP radios lớn go over. Before we dive into the theoretical, let’s look at an example of a place where a point-to-point wireless liên kết would be used.


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Example PtP Network

In this example, Site A has an mạng internet connection and some network equipment inside. An Ethernet connection lớn the roof provides power và data lớn a PtP radio. Site B also has a radio on the roof, with an Ethernet connection for power và data. These two radios form a wireless point-to-point link, allowing data lớn flow between the two sites.


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Site A is connected lớn the mạng internet over Ethernet. The Site A AP converts this lớn a wireless signal, which the antenna directs towards Site B. The Site B station receives this signal, converting it back to Ethernet. This serves as the mạng internet connection for the wireless router inside. Devices within Site B connect lớn the omnidirectional Wi-Fi router, while the PtP radios shuffle the data back & forth. This PtP connection allows users at Site B lớn use the internet connection from Site A. It also allows, by default, all devices in Site A to lớn access devices at Site B, và vice versa.

To restrict traffic và prevent Site B from accessing Site A, the wired networking equipment inside Site A can be used. A common option is khổng lồ create a VLAN for Site B. Then, with routing và firewall rules, you can prevent the two layer 2 VLANs from being able to lớn communicate with each other, while still allowing Site B to get to lớn the Internet. You can also selectively allow limited access khổng lồ shared resources, & many other things when you control the wired network that is feeding the PtP connection.

If these two locations are within a few hundred feet of each other, Ethernet, fiber, or outdoor mesh APs such as the UniFi AC-Mesh could be used instead. If they are further apart, those solutions are less ideal. A PtP link greatly increases the possible range, và allows you khổng lồ connect khổng lồ places you can’t run a cable to. Depending on the equipment used, Site A and Site B can be many miles apart. Ubiquiti has many radio models which can be used in a setup like this, but all of them will have a longer range và higher throughput than connecting them via multiple mesh APs.

Base Station vs. AP vs. Station

It’s also worth noting the terminology used for the PtP radios. The PtP liên kết requires two radios, both of which send and receive data back và forth. These two radios have different roles. Site A is the AP, & Site B is the station. The difference is the AP sets the SSID, security options, channel selection & width, & other aspects of the wireless network. The AP sets the rules, the station joins the network thiết lập by the AP. Customer Premises Equipment, or CPE, is another way khổng lồ refer to lớn the station radios. In a PtP network there is a single station, but in a PtMP there are many stations.

If you have multiple locations khổng lồ connect, a PtMP network is more scalable than multiple individual PtP links. A PtMP network covers a slice of the surrounding area, allowing multiple radios khổng lồ connect back to a single point. Rather than a single AP và a single station, a PtMP network is made up of a PtMP base station AP, which connects to multiple stations. Most Ubiquiti radios can be used as APs or stations, but there are fewer options for PtMP base stations.

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Example PtMP Network

We can duplicate the same station radio cài đặt from the PtP example above, but this time showroom Site C, D, & E. Each additional location requires a receiving radio và some equipment inside to re-transmit using an omnidirectional access point.

At Site A, the same internet connection và wired networking equipment can be used, with a different radio on the roof. Rather than a single AP và a single CPE station, a PtMP network uses a PtMP base station, which allows for connections khổng lồ multiple stations, or CPE radios. The radio on the roof of Site A is a PtMP base station, such as the LiteAP 120 or LTU Rocket with an external antenna. The base station AP dictates the wireless network name, password, channel, & other settings. All of the CPE radios join the network created by the Site A base station AP.

Each CPE radio liên kết forms a wireless bridge khổng lồ Site A, allowing traffic to lớn flow in both directions. The networking equipment inside Site A can be used khổng lồ make multiple networks, và restrict traffic flowing between the various sites and devices. This would allow all sites to nói qua the mạng internet access, but prevent them from connecting to each other, or khổng lồ devices within other sites.


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Frequency Differences và Line of Sight

The Wi-Fi network inside your house is likely using 2.4 GHz và 5 GHz, which are the most common unlicensed frequencies used in Wi-Fi. Unlicensed frequencies can be used by anyone, as long as they follow some rules. This makes 2.4 GHz & 5 GHz useful, but also heavily used in some areas.

In an area with a lot of Wi-Fi equipment, these common frequencies can get filled up quickly. 2.4 GHz in particular is notorious for having a lot of noise, due to lớn all the non-WiFi uses of 2.4 GHz, including Bluetooth, Zigbee, & microwave ovens. 2.4 GHz is a small, and very crowded band of frequency. 5 GHz offers more room for wider channels, but you can quickly run into interference issues with 5 GHz as well, especially in an area with multiple radios nearby. In areas with a lot of interference, alternative frequencies such as CBRS, 11 GHz, 24 GHz, or 60 GHz could be better options.

The other important aspect lớn consider when choosing a frequency is line of sight. Line of sight refers khổng lồ a clear visual path between the two radios. If there is nothing blocking the path, that’s referred lớn as a clear line of sight. If there are trees or buildings in the way, there is no direct line of sight. With limited line of sight, lower frequencies fare better. 5 GHz is very sensitive khổng lồ line of sight obstructions. A tree branch và some leaves can be enough to lớn limit performance, or make a 5 GHz link unstable.

In Ubiquiti’s lineup of PtP & PtMP radios, 5 GHz is the most common option. For connections with a clear line of sight, they are a good mặc định option. Frequencies above and below 5 GHz have different characteristics, making them better suited to lớn certain types of networks. There are also licensed options lớn consider.

Unlicensed - 900 MHz & 2.4 GHz

Low bandwidth, long range, doesn’t require direct line of sight.

900 MHz and 2.4 GHz are best used for wireless link that vì chưng not have direct line of sight, or areas that have trees or other obstructions. 2.4 GHz can have more interference to khuyễn mãi giảm giá with, & they both offer less bandwidth than 5 GHz, but they can provide connectivity in situations where a 5 GHz signal isn’t able lớn reach.

Unlicensed - 5 GHz

Higher bandwidth, long range, requires direct line of sight.

Unlicensed 5 GHz radios are the most common option, especially for low-cost devices that cover normal use cases. Lượt thích 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz radios have lớn fight for the same frequencies used inside of homes and businesses lớn provide Wi-Fi connectivity. Because of this, 5 GHz channels on a tower or a roof may receive many sources of 5 GHz interference. In some situations, moving to a higher or lower frequency can help. If you have clear line of sight và minimal interference in the area, 5 GHz is a good option.

Unlicensed - 24 & 60 GHz

Very high bandwidth, short range, requires direct line of sight.

24 GHz is also referred to lớn as the 1.2-centimeter band, and is used for amateur radio & satellite use. 24 GHz radios make for great short range, but high bandwidth backhaul links. Longer distance links run into problems with rain fade. The shorter the 24 GHz link, the better.

60 GHz is similar, living within the V band of the microwave spectrum. The US FCC has phối aside 57 GHz khổng lồ 71 GHz for unlicensed use. This band is used by StarLink, WiGig, & some PtP & PtMP radios. It’s also used for mmWave 5G. MmWave 5G typically uses between 26 GHz and 48 GHz, with channels up khổng lồ 400 MHz wide, allowing for very fast short range connections.

Licensed và Special Frequencies

CBRS (3.6 GHz) — Citizens Broadcast Radio Service is 150 MHz of spectrum around 3.6 GHz. In the US, 3550 MHz to lớn 3700 MHz is available for unlicensed use. The US Navy traditionally used this space, but recent rule changes have opened it up for unlicensed và semi-licensed user. CBRS is used much less than 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz frequencies, allowing for a cleaner connection. Equipment supporting this frequency is usually harder to lớn find than 5 GHz, và equipment choices are limited.

Ubiquiti has older equipment that operates in CBRS spectrum, but the Rocket M365s and other 365 models all require a license. They are not compatible with the new unlicensed rules, so you’ll have khổng lồ consider equipment from another vendor such as Cambium.

11 GHz — 11 GHz is a licensed frequency, with different availability based on your local regulator. In the US, 11 GHz links require a license from the US FCC. With the cost of the license and equipment, 11 GHz link have a higher base cost over 5 GHz, but are valuable tools on a crowded & noisy tower. 11 GHz liên kết are good options if you have a lot of interference in the 5 GHz band but need high-performance backhaul.

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Ubiquiti’s PtP & PtMP hàng hóa Lines

If you want lớn build a PtP or PtMP network with Ubiquiti equipment, you’re faced with a wide variety of options. Ubiquiti doesn’t always make it obvious which is the best choice, or which equipment is the best option for you. Even if you just look at the main categories, it’s a long danh mục with borders that aren’t always clear & distinct.

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I made comparison charts for Ubiquiti’s PtP and PtMP radios, which may help clear up the differences between the many options. It also helps khổng lồ understand the sản phẩm lines và what each are used for

AirMAX M = Old. OK to use, but AirMAX AC models are usually better options.AirMAX AC = Flexible & cost-effective PtP and PtMPNanoStation = Low-cost AP/CPELiteBeam = Low-cost, high-gain AP/CPENanoBeam = Versatile AP/CPEPowerBeam = High-gain AP/CPEAirFiber = High bandwidth PtPLTU = Efficient 5 GHZ PtMPRocket = PtMP APsBullet = Flexible, powerful PtP/PtMP APs with N-style antennasGigaBeam or 60 GHz Wave = Short range, high bandwidth PtP or PtMP