I have been involved in several wifi start-up companies looking at providing "last mile" solutions via wifi, as well as the future of "mesh networking" via inexpensive boxes saturating an area with a wifi cloud (imagine a wireless AP at every intersection of a city, powered by fiber... Cary, NC is doing this).
From our research, Orinoco is above and beyond the best equipment for the cost, which over the past couple of years has become extremely cheap (as with all computer hardware I guess...).
Some other things:
- amazing things can be accomplished with proper antenna choice and installation. There have been people who have blasted a wifi signal over many many miles from an off-the-shelf linksys 802.11b router with special antennas (Which are also comparitively inexpensive [<$300]).
- Trees pretty much take a wifi signal and beat it like a red-headed step child. Very few things (barring you know, lead) obstruct wifi as much as trees. The leaves act like a sponge, soaking up the signal.
- Stock (and really many aftermarket) omni-directional/yagi wifi antennas send out a signal much like a donut. The very center has a hole, although small, where signal reception can cause problems. They also send signals out horizontally MUCH better than vertically. If you are looking for vertical propogation, turn the AP on it's side (or adjust the antennas to simulate the same effect)
- Sveasoft makes some awesome aftermarket firmware for most of the linksys routers. Check it out, it can be downloaded for free from many sites, although supposedly you have to pay for it, although it's under GPL, so there is a big fight over the paying issue (search slashdot)
More to come later if I think of more