Wireless Networks Thread, Wireless solutions for primary schools? in Technical; Hello,
I'm looking for info on reliable wireless networking for primary schools. Currently I have a couple of schools who ...
I'm looking for info on reliable wireless networking for primary schools. Currently I have a couple of schools who are desperately seeking a wireless solution, I have asked a few companies for bids on installations which will offer coverage across the whole building with the capacity to give connection to a trolley of about 20 - 25 laptops when a class is using them, which could be in any area of the school.
The quotes I've received are very expensive and are mainly managed solutions with expensive switches and a p's which would give access to many more users simultaneously that I really need (some of them would offer something like the 20-25 laptops but in each and every room simultaneoulsy, way overkill for my schools).
I was particularly interested in SimpleSi 's post in this thread (near the bottom): http://www.edugeek.net/forums/networ...ns-wanted.html
I have pm'ed SimpleSi but have not received a reply. I wanted to ask how he is getting on with them and if he is still finding that setup reliable.
Does anyone else have experiencing with these way more simple (and cheaper) un-managed systems? Aside from configuring the AP's on 1, 6, and 11, with the same SSID, how else would you configure these in a similar setup? What would a good practise be for configuring the clients for a reliable connection?
If anyone thinks that this sort of solutions is not the answer please let me know what you think are good alternatives, as always, cheap is good. However there is a reasonable budget available for wireless networking, I just think these massive managed solutions seem overkill in primary schools (and possible headache for admin in future).
We use ruckus and netgear solutions for all the schools we support. If you can afford it, the ruckus kit is great, I haven't really touched ours since the day it went in, and it happily has 100 wireless clients running of it with no worries.
For schools on a tighter budget we use netgear kit. A lot of schools have the wg102 ap's in, with no controller and these have worked very well, gets a little tricky to manage if you have a huge number of ap's, but they happily support 20 odd clients each. These can be flash upgraded to work with a WFS709TP controller at any point in the future - we have one of these in a small school which has 75 wireless clients with no problems.
If you never want to have more than 16 ap's, then the WMS5316 controller and WNAP210 ap's look to be a good solution - this was recomended to one of my tech's by a netgear rep this afternoon, we haven't yet deployed one of these, but will be shortly.
So based on that, would you say that the extra expendeture for the ruckus managed kit is worth it? What kind of price difference are we talking about here anyway?
You say that the wg102 aps can get difficult to handle if you have a huge number of them, how many would you say that is and what would become difficult? Do you mean setting them apart so their channels don't overlap?
Also, on both managed and non managed networks, how are the ssid's and channels set up for best use (with roaming)? All on the same channel with the same ssid? Also, are ap's set up repeaters or should they be broadcasting their own ssid/network?
The extra expenditure really depends on the school. If you have a very tight budget, and have other priorities then go for something cheaper than ruckus - no point putting a great wireless system in running of 100mb hubs and an old server at the back end. Equally if the school is planning to have 1 laptop per child in the near future, something like ruckus (or some of the other bigger setups, I haven't used them, but there are alternatives that are as good) is definately worth the investment.
Cost wise, for a 12 ap setup, inclduing controller, the netgear kit i mentioned is around £1400 including the controller, but will never support more than 16 ap's. Their top end controller that can be stacked is around £1400 on its own, but you can have up to 3 working together. Ap's are around £80 - £100. For a 12 ap ruckus install a very ball park figure is £7000. This will include a maintenance contract, so you do have additional support available, although so far I haven't needed support for either setup.
Individual access points are not necessarily difficult to manage, its just more time consuming. If you only need 3 or 4 to cover the school then its pretty strait forward to look after them, when you get beyond 10 or so, it gets a little more tricky, especially if you ever want to change something on all of them.
Typically you would use the same ssid on all access points. With managed systems you can easily have multiple ssid's on different vlans, for example a guest ssid that has limit accesss, perhaps only to the internet. With individual access points they would need to be on different channels, for a 11G based network you only have 3 different channels that dont overlap - 1,6 and 11 so you need to plan you ap deployments more carefully. The managed netgear solution lets you upload a map of your school and ap locations, and will then work out the best channels for you. Ruckus kit works in a slightly different way, and certainly from my experience you don't have to worry about channels at all.
Sorry LazyD - didn't get any notification of PM (its there but I didn't see any alert ???)
Anyway - my thoughts.
The basic problem is moving from 15 laptops to 30 laptops (ie. one between 2 pupils or 1 each) and the inherent flakeware nature of wireless connections.
The old buffalo APs(1 per class) I used with 15 laptops have worked fine for years.
In one school we bought another 15 netbooks and I decided to add another AP (with a different SSID) in each class (But Bufflao don't make my old model any more so I used another model and flashed it with the open-source DD-WRT).
The new netbooks (ASUS 1001PX) don't play well with the new APs (lose connection after about 10 minutes) so I've switched them back to using the old APs where thery work fine so I need to try and see if I can tweak the new APs.
Therefore, we are still just using one bank of 15 at a time in a class.
If you scan the forums, you'll see I've had no end of problems with a £2500 Ruckus setup that don't work reliably with a particular netbook model so throwing money at wireless doesn't guarantee results.
I wish I could say that the 2 cheap AP/class solution worked for 30 clients but I've not got there yet
Take a look at Aerohive, their solution is controllerless you just buy as many access points as you need and they can be managed from the cloud, they are a proper fully featured enterprise AP with airtime scheduling and band steering and al the rest. Have you considered mounting the AP on the laptop trolley? That way the wireless network is always with the laptops and you don't have to cover the entire school.
We provide Engenius Access Points (normally located one in each room depending on layout, etc) along with a POE Gigabit enabled switch. Nothing fancy, but works well and is alot less than a managed system. I have however used both D-Link and Ruckus managed systems and once setup was simple to maintain. Out of the two managed systems I would recommend the Ruckus systems due to simplicity both in setup and maintenance.
I am looking to buy 30 Aerohive PA to blanket our school site externally and internally and to provide redundancy during our rebuild. I am looking for personal recomendations/opinion if you have personal experience would love to hear it. Its a lot of money if it's a turkey!
We use Aruba and cannot fault it, have 2 controllers one a primary and one secondary as we need redundancy and have it installed at some 20+ sites now with our largest building having some 30 AP's installed to give full coverage. In total we have several hundred AP's connecting back to HQ on various connections and it works like a dream. Microsoft use this kit themselves so it works fully with Microsoft Windows OS's.
Well I spent ages trying to get wifi to work with individual APs ( a real mongrel of linksys, cisco xyxel etc) and ended up taking it all out and using powerline. I then used an Edimax N AP for out new netbook trolley which worked really well. So well that I was asked to get more and now we have 4 across the site but Im worried that anymore and Ill be back to interference again. It doesnt help that the school is surrounded by houses with BT and Sky wifi! Hence the move to 5 and 2.4 Aerohive - now I just need some A and N dongles.....Anyone recommend something cheap?
Thanks for all your replies. Sad to hear that the buffalo ap's haven't worked well with 15+ clients Si.
I'm currently looking at Aerohive on advice from the people who have answered this thread and some PM's, just waiting for a quote from them. In the meantime would anyone have any rough pricing on Aerohive APs for my desired setup?