Hi everybody .... We've been looking at our wireless and have talked to a number of people on the subject. Ive been putting in each classroom a single 300mb twin antenna access point at 24.99 from Misco. (We have old thick walls so common points don't work) We have been told that we need to put in Business Class access points !!! Does anybody know what the difference is? To my mind a point that gives you up to (in theory at least) 300 mps should suffice for 15 tablets using the internet ...
Thanks in advance
The differences are huge, and it's not all about performance.
What access points have you seen at 24.99 ? I can check the specs and tell you exactly what to expect for that, and why you should consider more serious options.
Differences will include support for WPA2 enterprise with RADIUS, multiple SSIDs assigned to VLANs, perhaps a more durable build. Things like that. You can get APs which are a bit of both (we have a TP-Link 300mbps jobby for one classroom - consumer grade price and build, but supports 802.1x and VLANs etc).
Centralised management, better hardware with better power and more memory, more robust software able to handle more connections, advanced features that can try to balance between waps and manage power output and channels so the WAPs don't interfere with each other.
Better antennae, better client management, better load balancing, better channel management, higher density deployment etc...
You need to start your planning by defining your requirements. Vendor selection is usually well down the task list when planning a new installation.
Aslo make sure you are talking to the right people. Many installations fail through bad planning, if there is any kind of expectation on your network you need to plan properly.
I have written a blog post on 7 mistakes people make when planning WiFi, it's available here:
Thanks everybody for the replies .... Our situation is that we've had a survey and the result was that we will need one access point per room (12 Classrooms) ... its the oldest school in poole with 2.5 feet thick walls every where (they built them proper in those days !!! ;). We dont need vlans or any of the fancy stuff just decent throughput so the kids can logon and get the internet. (its just internet .. no streaming etc). The network handles user security. And we have a separate firewall..
WPA2 security is fine. The business points Ive seen seem to offer so much we dont need. From my viewpoint a simple access point in a closed box which is pretty much what our rooms are is much the same as any other ... maybe I'm wrong here ....
These are the ones Ive been looking at
TP-Link Wireless N 300Mbps Access Point (TL-WA801ND.) - www.misco.co.uk
I can set them up manually so no channels overlap ... they come with intelligent channel detection and can be setup sothey act according to what nearby channels they detect.
Any input would be appreciated
Well, as a cheap and cheerful solution, they will work.
They are WiFi alliance certified, with no advanced features which you don't seem to need. They are 2.4GHz only, so you won't get 300 Mbps out of them (The only way to get that is with 40 MHz channels, which clients don't support in 2.4GHz. Many client devices don't support 2 spatial streams, so your highest data rate will probably be 65 Mbps).
The ethernet port is only 100 Mbps anyway. Beware of the PoE , it appears top be non-standard and you will have to use injectors. If your traffic demands aren't too high. it will tick along. If it's senior students you may get away with it, but don't be surprised if you have problems. How many users per AP and how much traffic ? 65Mbps, with overhead, will give you a an effective throughput of say 50 Mbps, between 25 students would be 2 Mbit each, ok for internet and browsing but if they all have to watch a video or download a file at the same time it will be pretty bad.
Over time, dual spatial stream devices will be the norm and higher rates should be achieved.
Manually set the channels to 1,6 and 11 yourself, don't let the auto feature do it. They will just pick random channels otherwise.
Make sure they are on a seperate VLAN to anything else important in the school since you can't separate them at the access point.
WPA2 (PSK and enterprise) are both supported. would give good protection, though you have to have a publicly known key which could be compromised. Check legal compliance for where you stand on that since you are in a school. Enterprise systems put much more emphasis into user management, device fingerprinting and performance.
It's an interesting proposition, you have clearly stated objectives and have found a solution to match. You are aware of the limitations, and plan to control those limitations accordingly.
This is a good solution for your circumstances, since you are limited with the security I really suggest you spend some time developing a security policy for you, the school and the staff and users. Document the policy and show how you have addressed the concerns and you may well have a viable, low tech solution.
Let me know how you get on.
Hiyah and thanks for your detailed information. Our kids go up to year 2 !! They dont download files and generally go to sites such as Education city and Mathletics ....
I understand the maths side of the details and assume putting all the clever stuff to one side and in our situation that that will be the same for all access points? Business or not ... If I wanted for example to give each client (of 25) 4 meg instead of 2 could I simply add an access point? (with channels setup accordingly) Or are there points that beat the inevitable maths and are switches rather than hubs?
We dont use POE so thats not a problem
I dont think our clients support MIMO they are standard N netbooks and a few tablets.
Thanks for you help so far !!
Adding another access point in the same room won't work. The clients will start flapping, roaming from one to another, as you have no load balancing method.
You are hitting the limits of the low cost solution, I'm afraid.
Thanks once again ... so what would the high cost solution be to the the one room scenario? IE lets say we wanted to have 30 devices all running at a reasonable speed together given that the room is a box if you see what I mean ...
You don't need to think high cost if you don't need the more advanced features. Just get dual band.
Cheap dual band access points act like 2 access points in the same room. They will give you 40 MHz operations in 5 GHz with single spatial stream and dual spatial stream ( 150 and 300 Mbps, with short guard interval). Do you have any control over the client devices ? try and use as many 802.11n as possible.
Give the SSID's different names (ie school in 2.4 GHz and schoolfast in 5GHz) so that those that see it deliberately connect to that SSID.
Given your constraints, that might be enough, if you still have problems you may need to rethink, but this option is cheap enough to try even if it fails.
I'd be interested in that as well please @neilmac
Originally Posted by neilmac