Forum Thread

Wireless networking for 10,000 sqft. building

akkkmed 2,651 399 November 24, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Easy question (I hope). A friend owns a banquette hall. It's two stories and around 10,000 sqft. They have a few Airport Expresses for wireless internet, but it's not cutting it.They just need reliable wi-fi coverage throughout the building.

I have seen Open Mesh mentioned here multiple times, so that's what I'm looking at. After some research, Open Mesh seems like a good solution, but I'm still a little confused. I'm thinking they would need 5 access points on each floor (4 total).

1. Just to clarify, there is no hard wire connection required between each access point and main router?

2. If ethernet jacks are available in some spots, can some Open Mesh nodes be plugged in via ethernet to give a better connection? (AKA some hard-wired, some wireless)

3. Do you need a special "main router"? I assume you need a main router still....

5. I understand that bandwidth is cut in half for every node used. Is that correct?

4. Any other affordable options? He needs to get this done in the next two weeks.

Thank you nod

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#2
yes you need hard wire to send the data back or use powerline Ethernet if it will work

something like this

http://www.cyberguys.com/product-...MgodUVoABg
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#3
Quote from komondor View Post :
yes you need hard wire to send the data back or use powerline Ethernet if it will work

something like this

http://www.cyberguys.com/product-...MgodUVoABg
I don't think you're right... The Open-Mesh support document states, "Extend wireless coverage without running additional cables."
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#4
Open Mesh is a semi-custom implementation of wireless bridging, and yes it can do what you are looking to do. There are some really good resources in the PDFs here:
http://www.streakwave.com/Product-Open-Mesh.asp

I looked into using it for a small office a few years ago, ultimately there were too many unanswered questions regarding performance that we wouldn't find out until after buying several units. Since each hop halves your bandwidth, placement of the main router is key. We were going to have to run cable anyway so went ahead and did it right and ran CAT6 with a couple Cisco APs.
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#5
Quote from FlashX83 View Post :
Open Mesh is a semi-custom implementation of wireless bridging, and yes it can do what you are looking to do. There are some really good resources in the PDFs here:
http://www.streakwave.com/Product-Open-Mesh.asp

I looked into using it for a small office a few years ago, ultimately there were too many unanswered questions regarding performance that we wouldn't find out until after buying several units. Since each hop halves your bandwidth, placement of the main router is key. We were going to have to run cable anyway so went ahead and did it right and ran CAT6 with a couple Cisco APs.
Thanks. I will take a look at that resource.

Regarding bandwidth - if we can plug in some of the devices with ethernet, would that eliminate one "decrease" in bandwidth? I assume it would, but I don't know for sure.
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If possible, avoid OpenMesh and wire the wifi access points together with Ethernet cable, or try Powerline networking where Ethernet is unavailable.


For this project, Apple routers are not a good choice. Ideally, you should purchase all-identical routers, such as all Linksys simultaneous dual-band. You will configure just one of these as a router, an the other five will merely be used as wireless access points (AP's). The AP's will act like Ethernet switches, adding capacity to your network.
Only one wifi access point will be your router; this one will have it's WAN port plugged into your Internet dsl/cable modem, and the others won't.; they'll be wired to the Router with Ethernet cables. Wire all of the AP's using their LAN ports, not their WAN ports. The router will be the only device that assigns IP addresses when computers connect. Every other wifi access point should have dhcp disabled. Configure each with a static IP address and use your router as its gateway/dhcp server.

For example, your router might have an IP address of 192.168.1.1
Next, it's dhcp server might be set to assign up to 50 clients, from a base address of .100. Increase this to 99, so it will give out IP addresses between 192.168.1.100 to 192.168.1.199

The wifi access points will have static IP's. assign them addresses 192.168.1.2, 3, 4, etc., so they won't conflict with the dynamic addresses given out to devices that connect to your network. Got it?

Next, you want this network to function wirelessly. Each wifi router should have the same SSID, WPA settings, and password. This will let PC clients seamlessly switch from one AP to another.

Last, you need to assign the radio frequency of each wireless access point. If you are using 2.4 GHz, which is likely, you should only use three channels -- 1, 6, and 11. Do not use any other channels and do not use channel bonding (use 20 MHz channels, not 40 MHz). Distribute this mixture of non- overlapping channels through the building; put a Channel 1 and 6 near each other on one end, then a Channel 11, then a 1, then a 6... Spread them out. There are software tools that let you measure the signal strength if you wish. A good one is here http://www.metageek.net/ . Their free software is really good and if you want to be more serious, buy their WiSpy tool, I've used it and its really good.

Many newer laptops can use 5 GHz 802.11n. Slightly different rules apply: Namely, you have far more radio channels to distribute (yay!) but the higher speed of the connection means a single connection can grab all of the bandwidth, so you might need more routers. Typically, you can assign both a 5 Ghz and a 2.4 ghz channel to the same wifi AP. Do so, while still using the same SSID and security settings on every AP.

If you want to harden this network, begin by assigning a complex WiFi password, then of course use a complex password on each WiFi AP (not just the router). The next step would be a more secure firewall between the cable/dsl modem and the Router. I had a config like this, and the Linksys failed as a Router with so many clients and high bandwidth, so I bought a dedicated firewall/DHCP server/router. It sounds like your friend's issue is space, not high bandwidth.

So, yes, this will cost a bit of money, maybe $1,000. You can add these AP's one at a time and grow the network as his budget and time allows.

That's all there is to it! If you have questions, reply here and also send me a PM. I'll reply here, so others can share and benefit from the discussion.
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Last edited by Rebound November 25, 2012 at 09:32 AM
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#8
Quote from Rebound View Post :
If possible, avoid OpenMesh and wire the wifi access points together with Ethernet cable, or try Powerline networking where Ethernet is unavailable.


For this project, Apple routers are not a good choice. Ideally, you should purchase all-identical routers, such as all Linksys simultaneous dual-band. You will configure just one of these as a router, an the other five will merely be used as wireless access points (AP's). The AP's will act like Ethernet switches, adding capacity to your network.
Only one wifi access point will be your router; this one will have it's WAN port plugged into your Internet dsl/cable modem, and the others won't.; they'll be wired to the Router with Ethernet cables. Wire all of the AP's using their LAN ports, not their WAN ports. The router will be the only device that assigns IP addresses when computers connect. Every other wifi access point should have dhcp disabled. Configure each with a static IP address and use your router as its gateway/dhcp server.

For example, your router might have an IP address of 192.168.1.1
Next, it's dhcp server might be set to assign up to 50 clients, from a base address of .100. Increase this to 99, so it will give out IP addresses between 192.168.1.100 to 192.168.1.199

The wifi access points will have static IP's. assign them addresses 192.168.1.2, 3, 4, etc., so they won't conflict with the dynamic addresses given out to devices that connect to your network. Got it?

Next, you want this network to function wirelessly. Each wifi router should have the same SSID, WPA settings, and password. This will let PC clients seamlessly switch from one AP to another.

Last, you need to assign the radio frequency of each wireless access point. If you are using 2.4 GHz, which is likely, you should only use three channels -- 1, 6, and 11. Do not use any other channels and do not use channel bonding (use 20 MHz channels, not 40 MHz). Distribute this mixture of non- overlapping channels through the building; put a Channel 1 and 6 near each other on one end, then a Channel 11, then a 1, then a 6... Spread them out. There are software tools that let you measure the signal strength if you wish. A good one is here http://www.metageek.net/ . Their free software is really good and if you want to be more serious, buy their WiSpy tool, I've used it and its really good.

Many newer laptops can use 5 GHz 802.11n. Slightly different rules apply: Namely, you have far more radio channels to distribute (yay!) but the higher speed of the connection means a single connection can grab all of the bandwidth, so you might need more routers. Typically, you can assign both a 5 Ghz and a 2.4 ghz channel to the same wifi AP. Do so, while still using the same SSID and security settings on every AP.

If you want to harden this network, begin by assigning a complex WiFi password, then of course use a complex password on each WiFi AP (not just the router). The next step would be a more secure firewall between the cable/dsl modem and the Router. I had a config like this, and the Linksys failed as a Router with so many clients and high bandwidth, so I bought a dedicated firewall/DHCP server/router. It sounds like your friend's issue is space, not high bandwidth.

So, yes, this will cost a bit of money, maybe $1,000. You can add these AP's one at a time and grow the network as his budget and time allows.

That's all there is to it! If you have questions, reply here and also send me a PM. I'll reply here, so others can share and benefit from the discussion.
Thank you for the long reply, Rebound! I agree that wired is the best way to go. The issue with that is wiring the building... There are 4 or 5 ethernet jacks dispersed on both floors of the building. My friend doesn't know where the jacks go though....lmao.

Let's say we can figure out where the jacks end. Do you think placing 4 or 5 routers (APs) like you suggested would be sufficient? It's a large space, so yes, coverage is the biggest hurdle.

Can off the shelf routers be turned into APs without installing dd-wrt or similar custom software? I have some experience with dd-wrt, but for the sake of staff, I don't think it's a good idea...
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#9
Good info Rebound, you saved me some typing.

Off the shelf routers can function as AP's by disabling the DHCP server, assigning a non-conflicting ip, and connecting only a lan port and not the wan port. However, commercial AP's will run circles around the performance of an off the shelf residential router/ap. Check out something like this: http://www.engeniustech.com/busin...eap600-new
You can get a PoE injector switch and use PoE so you don't need power for each AP. You probably want to place the AP's where they aren't likely to be exposed to tampering with might make using the existing jacks without modification difficult.

Take a close look at the building construction and where these jacks are, it might be easier than you realize to run some additional wires.
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Quote from akkkmed View Post :
Regarding bandwidth - if we can plug in some of the devices with ethernet, would that eliminate one "decrease" in bandwidth? I assume it would, but I don't know for sure.
The short answer is yes, but how effective it will be depends on how your network is laid out. It's explained really well in that Network Planning Guide from my link with pictures and everything, so I won't try to reinvent the wheel. Cool
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Quote from akkkmed View Post :
Thank you for the long reply, Rebound! I agree that wired is the best way to go. The issue with that is wiring the building... There are 4 or 5 ethernet jacks dispersed on both floors of the building. My friend doesn't know where the jacks go though....lmao.

Let's say we can figure out where the jacks end. Do you think placing 4 or 5 routers (APs) like you suggested would be sufficient? It's a large space, so yes, coverage is the biggest hurdle.

Can off the shelf routers be turned into APs without installing dd-wrt or similar custom software? I have some experience with dd-wrt, but for the sake of staff, I don't think it's a good idea...
4 or 5 Ethernet jacks might be enough. You can plug a switch into any of them and run 100' of ethernet cable from the switch to an AP to extend coverage. I assume they all run to to an Ethernet switch somewhere?

You can use ordinary Linksys products for this. It's a question of how many users and traffic you expect. You said it's a catering company, so if its a matter of covering a lot of space for ten or fifteen people, you don't need commercial-grade equipment. If the network gets congested or it crashes, look at getting a commercial-grade router first.

Also, try to place the AP's on a wall, as close to the ceiling as possible.
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Last edited by Rebound November 25, 2012 at 02:13 PM
#12
Quote from akkkmed View Post :
Thank you for the long reply, Rebound! I agree that wired is the best way to go. The issue with that is wiring the building... There are 4 or 5 ethernet jacks dispersed on both floors of the building. My friend doesn't know where the jacks go though....lmao.

Let's say we can figure out where the jacks end. Do you think placing 4 or 5 routers (APs) like you suggested would be sufficient? It's a large space, so yes, coverage is the biggest hurdle.

Can off the shelf routers be turned into APs without installing dd-wrt or similar custom software? I have some experience with dd-wrt, but for the sake of staff, I don't think it's a good idea...

I would work on finding out were those jacks go, I would not be surprised if there is an old network closet somewhere. As others have said that might make your life a lot easier since you can use them at a back hall to the main device.

I think some other questions for your friend: How many people is he looking to get on a once? Will any of the "business" machines be sharing the same internet as the customers? What type of speed would he like to see per user (we talking getting on fb/ checking email or streaming netflix?)
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Quote from akkkmed View Post :
Easy question (I hope). A friend owns a banquette hall. It's two stories and around 10,000 sqft. They have a few Airport Expresses for wireless internet, but it's not cutting it.They just need reliable wi-fi coverage throughout the building.

I have seen Open Mesh mentioned here multiple times, so that's what I'm looking at. After some research, Open Mesh seems like a good solution, but I'm still a little confused. I'm thinking they would need 5 access points on each floor (4 total).

1. Just to clarify, there is no hard wire connection required between each access point and main router?
Correct, you just need one hardwired AP, but you can have more than one hardwired AP, I've seen installations like this.

Quote from akkkmed View Post :
2. If ethernet jacks are available in some spots, can some Open Mesh nodes be plugged in via ethernet to give a better connection? (AKA some hard-wired, some wireless)
Yep, as mentioned above, you should be able to do that.

Quote from akkkmed View Post :
3. Do you need a special "main router"? I assume you need a main router still....
You actually do not need a main router if you don't want one as long as your cable modem can assign an IP. Most installations that I have heard of still use a main router. If you want to run more than AP hard wired you would more than likely need a main router anyway since you would need to assign more than one IP to the APs.

You do not need a special router. Any router will work, the Open Mesh devices handle their own addressing needs on their own subnet. Obviously if you feel like overriding this you probably could, but I don't see any reason to do that.

Quote from akkkmed View Post :
5. I understand that bandwidth is cut in half for every node used. Is that correct?
Not technically. It's cut in half for every hop from the main router so when you get out to the 3rd or 4th router it's 1/8th and 1/16th, respectively. This guide explains it, http://www.cloudtrax.com/docs/net..._guide.pdf. The guide also explains that to avoid this drop you should plan your network competently.

Quote from akkkmed View Post :
4. Any other affordable options? He needs to get this done in the next two weeks.
I wish... Meraki is a bit more expensive and just got acquired by cisco, so now the prices are probably quadruple! IT managers are too stupid to know the difference so they spend 10x on cisco. laugh out loud

Ruckus makes boxes, no clue on cost.

You can manually setup routers using DDWRT or Tomato, but I wouldn't recommend this for your application.

Looks like Open-Mesh just redesigned their entire lineup, got rid of the MR500 which used 5ghz for unit to unit transmission. Now it's the OM2P OM2P-LC and OM2P-HS. Just compare them and spec accordingly. If you have speed concerns the HS unit might help a bit.

Good luck and please report back on your successes, failures, etc!

PS: You get what you pay for, DO NOT use standard off the shelf units. The cost of the Open Mesh hardwire is minimally more and you get some added headache saving features such as:

-a hardware monitoring chip which restarts the unit if it freezes, automatically, no user intervention
-online network status monitoring at all times, so you can see how the network is doing from anywhere in the world
-no need to worry about firmware updates ever, the units can upgrade themselves without user intervention if you want them to

Honestly, the monitoring alone is worth it.
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Last edited by brbubba November 25, 2012 at 07:16 PM
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#14
Quick question on this wonderful Cyber Monday:

We need an extender (no hard wire in between the router) in my house. The new Netgear router isn't cutting it. The bandwidth decrease doesn't matter too much, since we only need to surf the internet in the far parts of the house. Should I just buy a Netgear extender and see how it performs?
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have you ever tried tomato or dd-wrt?

a cheap tomato powered router would probably work. check CL.
I lucked out and got a buffalo whr-hp-g54 for like $10 a month a ago.
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