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Wireless Networks Thread, Netgear WAPs in Technical; In our school we've adopted a cheap & cheerful approach to wireless networking, using Belkin WAPs. Performance is pretty good, ...
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    Netgear WAPs

    In our school we've adopted a cheap & cheerful approach to wireless networking, using Belkin WAPs. Performance is pretty good, though there can be a bit of a problem if class sets of laptops all try to log on at the same time. Starting the laptops in Workstation only mode, then logging into the network when access is needed to home directory etc. works pretty well.

    My local network installation man has been singing the praises of Netgear WG302 WAPs, calling them "proper enterprise class APs that will give a good result on a heavily loaded network".

    My question is this - is it really worth spending over £150 for a WAP compared with £30 for Belkin? Will a whole class be able to log on at the same time with no problems?

    Any comments would be welcome.

    Regards,

    RoyG

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    Ric_'s Avatar
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    Re: Netgear WAPs

    Wifi is a 'shared' system - similar to a hub - so the more clients, the lower the performance. This, therefore, means that there is a finite number of users.

    Generally, enterprise-class APs do allow for a greater number of concurrent users. In order to get a decent level of performance though you need a solution with some kind of management system that will load balance users between APs and have areas of overlapping wifi coverage. Systems from BlueSocket, Cisco, 3COM, Aruba, etc. are capable of this - they are not cheap though.

    If you use a lot of mobile computers and therefore rely on wifi, you need to make the investment IMHO. When you consider that you might pay £250 for a 24-port switch (i.e. £10 per port), you really want to be spending a similar sum on wifi. If an AP can comfortably handle 15 connections, that is £150. On top of this I would recommend spending the £2k-£3k on a controller (e.g. the BlueSecure controller from BlueSocket).

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    Re: Netgear WAPs

    From a hardware point of view, there is no physical difference between the APs. What's different is the software. Normally with 'enterprise' AP's you get some sort of centralised management system that does your configuration/bandwidth/client management for you.

    To my mind I'd buy a handful of Netgear WRT54GL home routers and flash them with OpenWRT. That gets me a very flexible device for not very much money.

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    Re: Netgear WAPs

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff
    From a hardware point of view, there is no physical difference between the APs. What's different is the software. Normally with 'enterprise' AP's you get some sort of centralised management system that does your configuration management for you.

    To my mind I'd buy a handful of Netgear WRT54GL home routers and flash them with OpenWRT. That gets me a very flexible device for not very much money.
    You mean linksys WRT54GL?

    I do agree with the above though, openWRT is very flexible and could be set to good use. Wireless can be a pain in the arse though, so many things can interfere with it. We mainly use ZyXEL, they seem pretty good and stable. tbh i dont think there is a single wireless AP that could handle a whole class (of say 30 kids)logging on at the same time.

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    Re: Netgear WAPs

    Yes, I meant Linksys

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    Re: Netgear WAPs

    Thanks for the info guys.

    Obviously in an ideal world we would plan & implement a school-wide wireless infrastructure, using the best available kit. Our system (I guess like many other schools) has evolved over the last 4-5 years, adding WAPs as required. The chances of a budget to scrap & start again are pretty slim!!

    As I said in my first post, performance is quite acceptable once connections are established. The only real issue is that of logging on to the network to connect to home & shared folders - if the whole class try to log on at once, a few will fail. Stagger the logon - no problems.

    Would installation of enterprise WAPs in critical areas be likely to solve that problem, or would I need the full 9 yards, with overlapping wifi, load-balancing & central management.

    Cheers,

    RoyG

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    Re: Netgear WAPs

    I'd love to see a configuration and control system programmed around the OpenWRT or similar so that you have the centrally managed capability.

    Ben

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    Re: Netgear WAPs

    @RoyG

    I had a look around and chose the Cisco APs as I knew that we could eventually go down the managed route ... we still have the odd other AP (Intel Pro to tun A in a few areas, and the odd Netgear B/G AP ... but mainly 1200 or 1000 series from Cisco).

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