Setting up Multiple Wireless Access Points for Church

Our church(especially the youth, but also the older congregration) is starting to use smart TV's and other wireless devices (i.e. - Phones, Tablets, iPads, etc.)

We have a wireless router that's placed towards one end of the church, near the Gym, and the youth rooms. There are a few other computers (which I've told them need to be replaced, they're on XP :ouch: ) that are connected via ethernet cables. However, the church has put a smart TV in a room on the other side of the building and wants it to be wireless, because they don't want to have to run wires to every class room that gets a tv. (We will have to run some CAT 6 to new places though, that's ok.)

Anywho, they bought a Wireless Access Point/ Wireless Repeater, and it is being used as a wireless repeater so that the upstairs part of the church can use the TV. It still doesn't cover the rest of the church (downstairs, choir room, sanctuary), so they asked me what the best way to extend the wireless network across the church would be.

I know they shouldn't use Wireless Repeaters, as it splits bandwidth and what not. (Also, the current one is cutting in and out). So, I'm figuring that we hardwire that repeater, use it as an Access Point, and purchase some other Access Points and do the same things in the other parts of the church.

We want to set all Access Points with the same SSID and Password, but I guess we have to use different channels? Also, we would like a somewhat smooth transition between Access Points. It was brought to my attention that if you roam across the church, on a few different Access Points, then secure sites will make you log-in again, if there isn't an AP controller?

So what's the best way to set up a network with 5+ Access Points? Also, this needs to be as cost efficient as possible, while keeping good quality wireless.
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  1. Actually step back for a moment. Asses what type of band they are using, are these old 802.11g ? If so you need to first upgrade to 802.11n. Second depends what the rooms, etc. are all made out of. No the Repeaters sold these days shouldn't split the bandwidth, which won't matter unless your doing PC to PC file transfers just inside the church.

    There is plenty of nice plug and play repeaters out there, the new standard is 802.11ac, which costs the same and are backwards compatible. Figure out your broadcast range (easiest method grab a laptop use Xirrus to scan and walk around, when you see it drop, mark the boundry on the map of the church layout, you do have a layout of the church don't you?). Then map out where to put the repeaters around each one. No matter what speed is going over the network (100Mbps, 300Mbps, 10Mbps) they are all still limited to the ISP connection (what did they sign up for? cheapest is 1Mbps which is not enough bandwidth for Multimedia / Streaming, they need at least a 10Mbps connection or better especially for multiple devices) to the entire network.
  2. They were bought in the past year, so it should be up to date, but I will check the speeds, bands, and bandwidth and get back to you. However, if repeaters don't split bandwidth (everything I read says they do? They compare it to you watching the game on tv and yelling me the answers... ) would it be best to place one every 100 feet or so?

    I'll also get you a layout of the church, so you can see.
  3. Cody Morgan said:
    They were bought in the past year, so it should be up to date, but I will check the speeds, bands, and bandwidth and get back to you. However, if repeaters don't split bandwidth (everything I read says they do? They compare it to you watching the game on tv and yelling me the answers... ) would it be best to place one every 100 feet or so?

    I'll also get you a layout of the church, so you can see.

    What your asking is a full Assessment for your church, and should be someone whom is familiar with all the different bandwidths, models, advantages, and then a analysis of how many computers accessing, how many will be needing priority access, what will be the common uses, sources of those uses, etc.

    I would recommend you should seek a local church member whom owns / works with a Wireless/Networking or ask for a local company that specializes to 'volunteer' since the church is Non Profit, in turn you would make notices inside the church and make a announcement for the company (aka advertise) they provided the service and assistance. Honestly this is alot of leg work, physically walking around, many 'visual' on the spot things to consider, as well as knowing the environment (oh that is a brick wall, sure the beems are solid steel! we are in a tornado zone after all!, etc.) that just a layout won't tell me / anyone else.

    Simply buying a bunch of repeaters and putting them around isn't the simpliest solution, though it sounds like it
  4. Designing a wireless system is actually extremely complex thing to do. It is made even more complex if you are restricted by not being able to really place equipment where it is needed.
    The normal way to do a site survey is to first determine number of users in each area so you know how much radio bandwidth you need. It depends a lot on the type of traffic. Web surfing take far less than video streaming. Most vendors recommend no more than 10 active users per radio but that also assumes fairly low volume users. Only you really know your traffic type. You can quickly get into the problem of having to put in multiple radios to cover the same area and then how your force users to use certain radio units. This is why cisco,aviya,hp etc can sell extremely expensive wireless controllers to corporations.

    So lets assume you can get past the first hurtle and figure out how much radio/ap you are going to need and the locations. If you could use all wired AP I would look at a solution from ubiquiti called UNIFI. This is a lower end controller system. They give the controller software away for free so you can download and look at it. You of course pay a bit more for the AP to make up for this. This is still far cheaper than say the cisco system. It is not even as close to as advanced but you likely do not need those features.

    If you must use a repeater you need to use a "real" repeater. As you say all the crap that is sold on the market as "range extenders" cut you traffic by at least half because they transmit and receive with the same radio on the same frequencies. This market is being sold to the home users who only care about price and want to just plug it in and it sorta works.

    I know of 2 products that are actual repeaters but there are likely more. The first which I have used is from engenius called enh700ext this is actually a outdoor unit. It uses the 5g band radio to link back to the central router and uses the 2.4 radio to act as a AP to the users. You still are using WDS on the main link back to the router so it does not work in enterprise configurations that use 802.1x. The other is from hawkings tech called haw2r1. This device has 2 radios also but both are on the 2.4g band. You of course need to be careful about channel selection so you don't get into the same problem of cheap repeaters sending and receiving on the same channel. I have not personally used this product but others I work with say it works well. The key advantage to this one is 2.4g tends to penetrate walls easier so it may be a option when 5g signal is blocked too much. Of course 2.4g is very crowded with other devices so it is a trade off.
  5. OK. Thanks guys. I got some info on our equipment. There are a couple places in town that could do the network, but I'd rather not go with them. We're wanting to keep this all in house. So advise the best you can.

    Our new router is a Linksys EA6500 which supports 802.11ac & it looks like the old router is still hooked up too. (smh) What's the best way to see if it is acting as a switch or as a DHCP server and all?

    Our new repeater/extender is a Linksys RE1000 which does not support AC.

    Our modem is a Motorola SB5100.

    Our switch is a linksys EZXS55W. Which only supports 100Mbps not 1000- so it needs to be upgraded.
    There's also some CAT5 cabling which will need to be replaced with cat6 and there is some cat5e which we could probably leave for now, or should we upgrade it as well?

    I've heard of ubiquity, and we will probably go with it, if it is affordable. What's another option?

    We probably won't have more than 5 heavy users on each AP. The rest would be surfing, and that's mainly near the youth room.
    However, is there a way to give priority to say 5 smart TVs over everyone's cell phones? Port Forwarding?
  6. You might want to look at the Ubiquiti Uni-Fi portfolio. It supports multiple managed access points. Here is a good article from For something like a church with potentially hundreds of clients, something like this would be my recommendation.
  7. We have around 2-300 people in our congregation, but not many of them would use it. I'll definitely look into what you've shared; however, I only think we would have at the most ~50 people.

    Just looked into it. Ubiquity is a little pricey, in my opinion. However, I will present it to the church as an option. Still looking for a cheaper solution, however.
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