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Development of wireless network planning software for rural community use

Rural New Zealand has poor access to broadband Internet. The CRCnet project at the University of Waikato identified point-to-point wireless technology as an appropriate solution, and built networks for rural communities. The project identified viable solutions using low-cost wireless technologies and commodity hardware, allowing them to establish general construction guidelines for planning rural wireless networks. The CRCnet researchers speculated that these general construction guidelines had simplified the wireless network problem to a point at which it seemed feasible to embed the guidelines within a software tool. A significant observation by the CRCnet researchers was that community members are collectively aware of much of the local information that is required in the planning process. Bringing these two ideas together, this thesis hypothesises that a software tool could be designed to enable members of rural communities to plan their own wireless networks. To investigate this hypothesis, a wireless network planning system (WiPlan) was developed. WiPlan includes a tutorial that takes the unique approach of teaching the user process rather than the detail of network planning. WiPlan was evaluated using a novel evaluation technique structured as a roleplaying game. The study design provided participants with local knowledge appropriate for their planning roles. In two trials, WiPlan was found to support participants in successfully planning feasible networks, soliciting local knowledge as needed throughout the planning process. Participants in both trials were able to use the techniques introduced by the tutorial while planning their wireless network and successfully plan feasible wireless networks within budget in both study trials. This thesis explores the feasibility of designing a wireless networking planning tool, that can assist members of rural communities with no expertise in wireless network planning, to plan a feasible network and provides reasonable evidence to support the claim that such a planning tool is feasible.
Type of thesis
Bartels, S. J. (2012). Development of wireless network planning software for rural community use (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/6524
University of Waikato
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