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As the title suggests, I have some kit which is 200m from our current infrastructure (outdoors).

What is the cheapest way to establish a reliable connection across a 200m stretch (Cat 5e ethernet only works up to about 100m from our tests)?

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How much money do you want to spend? Is it possible that the cable may be attacked by animals or men with axes? I'd favor wireless. –  ott-- Jan 10 '13 at 16:48
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Is it possible the wireless will be attacked by children with laptops? –  user142485 Jan 10 '13 at 17:55
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Not mentioned yet in the answers: 1) Does it need to be electrically isolated -> fibre. 2) The reason why CAT5/6 length is limited is not only due to electrical reasons. There are also timeouts in the protocol which correspond with the time a signal needs to travel from one end of the cable to the other end of the cable. –  Hennes Jan 10 '13 at 17:57
    
We'd want to spend as little as possible (obviously) but it needs to be a reliable link. Wireless makes me nervous on the reliability front. The wireless would need to be secure (WPA should be fine) but shouldn't think we'll have to worry about men with axes or children with laptops as it's a fairly large / secured site. –  Jon Cage Jan 11 '13 at 10:02
    
It doesn't need to be electrically isolated (the attached devices will all be coming off the same supply). –  Jon Cage Jan 11 '13 at 10:03
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5 Answers

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I've had to pull a run like you describe several times. All three ways previously mentioned will work fine, but the critical issue you mentioned is cheap.

If you're extending a network where security is a real concern, this actually rules out wireless. Adequate quality Wifi transceivers with matching outdoor rated directional antennae will run you upwards of $600 each. If you don't care about security more than running WPA2-PSK you can hack it together with two cheap $50 WAPs and a DIY Cantenna on each end.

Copper will cost you $300 to $600. Just to be safe, look for a box of Cat-5e with 24AWG solid conductors rated for moisture resistance. Run your cables straight through plug to plug rather than punch and patch at the ends. If you place a POE parent switch or power injector at one end you can place a 1port POE supported repeater in the middle. I have used this repeater several times. It's available from both Newegg and CDW for under $150 and will do fine outdoors if in a sheltered enclosure. If you don't have a sheltered location in-between an outdoor rated equivalent will cost you $250-300. Remember, only on end switch needs to transmit POE.

Fiber will cost $500 to $1000. Outdoor rated 62.5/125 cable will cost you about $300 for 200m. If you have an available WIC slot in the switches/routers at each end you can get the cards for under $150. If not, your looking at $250-350 for a switch with a fibre port on each end putting the cost around $1000 mark.

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PoE Injectors and extenders looks like a good fit for us - thanks! –  Jon Cage Jan 11 '13 at 14:17
    
I almost forgot to mention. Check with an area electrician about ground differential between the buildings. At 200m it's not likely to be of concern, but just in case. It would suck to install it all then fry a switch when you plug it in. –  OCDtech Jan 11 '13 at 22:41
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You have a couple options. You didn't state any requirements as far a obstructions or digging cable into the ground. So:

  • Fiber between the two locations: 2 transceivers (~$120 each) and 200m of cable (~$120) = ~$360
  • Wireless links: 2 at ~$100 each = ~$200
  • Switch or something halfway between to connect two ethernet cables: < $50

All of these are going to vary greatly in price and signal quality, depending on the quality of equipment you get and the installation methods.

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maybe

or

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I haven't run ethernet over coax since 10Base was in common use, but I don't see any reason why this wouldn't work just as well. In my experience the jackets on coax cabling tend to be more durable than comparably rated twisted-pair. –  OCDtech Feb 19 '13 at 16:56
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I would forget the repeaters and the wireless, just go with fibre. A nice 1000BASE-SX setup will work nicely. Fibre is reliable, fast, and this standard in particular is usually used for building to building connection, and therefore perfect for the distance you require.

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Obviously 200m is way out of range for CAT5e Ethernet. So you have three options really:

  1. Have some active repeater in the middle. Maximum length for CAT5e Ethernet is 90m, so with 200m run you might have to have 2 repeaters (although if there are no bends, and you use quality cable and connectors, you might get away with 100m too.

    You can basically use any switch as a repeater. If you use PoE-powered switch, you will even not need to run a second cable for power. Of course, the switch must be rated for outside use (temperature/humidity), and it must be protected from elements, and you must have ways to access it for service if needed.

  2. The second option is to use fiber optic. Of course, you'll have to have media converters on both ends (or switches with fiber-optic uplink), and laying fiber optic requires special tools/expertise. It might be more expensive than just use a repeater in the middle, but this solution will be more reliable.

  3. The third option is to go wireless. Two Wi-Fi bridges with directional antennas can easily span 200m, if you have a clear line of sight. Of course, wireless has its own benefits and drawbacks. It might be cheaper than wired connection, but prone to electro-magnetic interference, has a bigger attack surface compared to a buried fiber-optic cable, etc.

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