Cisco 350 vs cheaper brands

Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

I was hoping someone with expeience might help with a question.

I am going to have to add wireless capability to an existing network
for a friend. So, I know that I could buy something like a linksys
access point for about $80. I am also looking at the cisco which
seems to go for about $350. My question is this

What ist the real difference between the cisco and the cheaper ones ?

Thanks
9 answers Last reply
More about cisco cheaper brands
  1. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    In article <kgvhr0hon8repol0j6sn4ika9k09r2d5sm@4ax.com>,
    joecool <adzikiewicz@cox.net> wrote:
    :I am going to have to add wireless capability to an existing network
    :for a friend. So, I know that I could buy something like a linksys
    :access point for about $80. I am also looking at the cisco which
    :seems to go for about $350. My question is this

    :What ist the real difference between the cisco and the cheaper ones ?

    - More MAC addresses handled on the Cisco

    - Possibly higher transmit power on the Cisco [I have seen this written
    but have not cross-checked for myself]

    - The Cisco supports 802.1x authentication with LEAP, not just
    the insecure WEP or WEP128

    - The Cisco devices are still having features added to them through
    software upgrades: you won't just get tune-ups and bug fixes, you
    will get new features

    - The Cisco devices are more likely to officially be able to change
    antenna; for any given Linksys, you might be able to hack it, but the
    result is probably not going to be FCC compliant [the FCC certifies
    the pair together, not the AP and antenna separately.]

    - The Cisco devices are extensively documented, and there is a
    real support apparatus behind them. A non-trivial part of what you are
    paying extra for is carrying part of the cost of the support team.
    Especially if you pay for a support contract, then the Cisco site is
    amazingly extensive, including tutorials, example configurations,
    user guides, command references, and so on. The Linksys documentation,
    on the other hand, is relatively basic, and doesn't even -mention-
    how to use some of the boxes that are clearly there in the screen
    snapshots.

    - Did I mention the support?? If you're putting this into a business
    network where it is important that it be up, then if you get a
    24x7 support contract and you open an online case at 02:00 in the morning,
    you *will* get a call back within a short time. Cisco's Technical
    Assistance Centre works in shifts from all over the world; I've
    received callbacks from Australia, UK, eastern US, and western US.
    Now, the cost of that support contract might be more than the cost
    of buying the Linksys outright, but if you are installing into a
    business, an hour downtime costs the company a lot more than the
    support contract.

    - If you start to get serious about putting APs into businesses,
    Cisco has a device (which is expensive) that makes controlling security
    and interference a lot easier. I haven't tried that yet, as I don't
    have the budget for it.
    --
    Live it up, rip it up, why so lazy?
    Give it out, dish it out, let's go crazy, yeah!
    -- Supertramp (The USENET Song)
  2. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    On 10 Dec 2004 03:00:24 GMT, roberson@ibd.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca (Walter
    Roberson) wrote:

    >In article <kgvhr0hon8repol0j6sn4ika9k09r2d5sm@4ax.com>,
    >joecool <adzikiewicz@cox.net> wrote:
    >:I am going to have to add wireless capability to an existing network
    >:for a friend. So, I know that I could buy something like a linksys
    >:access point for about $80. I am also looking at the cisco which
    >:seems to go for about $350. My question is this
    >
    >:What ist the real difference between the cisco and the cheaper ones ?

    (...)

    You forgot a big difference.

    One of the features found in Cisco 350 hardware, that's rarely found
    in cheaper boxes is SNMP (simple network management protocol). This
    allows me to use standard management software to both remotely
    configure and monitor performance, connections, traffic, and errors.
    There's nothing like a pretty graph showing traffic and usage
    patterns. When something goes wrong, it always shows up as a change
    in the graphs. Real SNMP (with supplied MIB's) is, in my never humble
    opinion, what separates the quality hardware from the toys.


    --
    Jeff Liebermann jeffl@comix.santa-cruz.ca.us
    150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
    Santa Cruz CA 95060 AE6KS 831-336-2558
  3. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    On 12/10/04 7:15 AM, Jeff Liebermann wrote:

    > One of the features found in Cisco 350 hardware, that's rarely found
    > in cheaper boxes is SNMP (simple network management protocol). This
    > allows me to use standard management software to both remotely
    > configure and monitor performance, connections, traffic, and errors.
    > There's nothing like a pretty graph showing traffic and usage
    > patterns. When something goes wrong, it always shows up as a change
    > in the graphs. Real SNMP (with supplied MIB's) is, in my never humble
    > opinion, what separates the quality hardware from the toys.

    Does the LinkSys alternative firmware (Sveasoft, HyperWRT, etc.) have
    SNMP support?

    I think they should, since the firmware is Linux based ...

    Thanks.
  4. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    On Fri, 10 Dec 2004 11:17:42 +0100, meATprivacyDOTnet <me@privacy.net>
    wrote:

    >On 12/10/04 7:15 AM, Jeff Liebermann wrote:
    >
    >> One of the features found in Cisco 350 hardware, that's rarely found
    >> in cheaper boxes is SNMP (simple network management protocol). This
    >> allows me to use standard management software to both remotely
    >> configure and monitor performance, connections, traffic, and errors.
    >> There's nothing like a pretty graph showing traffic and usage
    >> patterns. When something goes wrong, it always shows up as a change
    >> in the graphs. Real SNMP (with supplied MIB's) is, in my never humble
    >> opinion, what separates the quality hardware from the toys.

    >Does the LinkSys alternative firmware (Sveasoft, HyperWRT, etc.) have
    >SNMP support?
    >I think they should, since the firmware is Linux based ...

    I have no idea and no experience. There are too many variations for
    me to track. Google returns some interesting URL's for "wrt54g snmp"
    but I don't wanna track them. Wifi-box lists SNMP support so I guess
    it has been done.

    One of the problems to watch out for is access to vendor specific
    registers at the MAC level. ANS.1 statistics are fairly easy to
    impliment in a Linux based system. Digging out statistics from the
    vendor specific (radio) hardware registers can be done by digging
    though the proc filesystem. However, without a MIB file to organize
    the results, it's fairly useless to the management software. Google
    didn't find much with "wrt54g MIB" so the level of support may be
    lacking.

    Please note that some of the (relatively) cheaper access points do
    support SNMP.
    http://www.netgear.com/products/details/WG302.php

    Good luck.


    --
    Jeff Liebermann jeffl@comix.santa-cruz.ca.us
    150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
    Santa Cruz CA 95060 AE6KS 831-336-2558
  5. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    Best reason to buy Cisco is the quality. I manage a netowrk with around
    100 access points and bridges. Have had three failures in the last year
    and all happened at the same time due to a power surge on a circuit
    that was supposed to be protected.

    Other features not mentioned include support for VLANS, using multiple
    SSID's on the same access point (up to 16), If using the above two
    settings then each SSID can use different WEP keys.

    Too many features to list. BTW the power ouput for the 350 series is up
    to 100 mwatts and is adjustable down to 1 mwatt. The receivers on the
    Cisco are also better than most and this increases the range and
    performance.


    joecool wrote:
    > I was hoping someone with expeience might help with a question.
    >
    > I am going to have to add wireless capability to an existing network
    > for a friend. So, I know that I could buy something like a linksys
    > access point for about $80. I am also looking at the cisco which
    > seems to go for about $350. My question is this
    >
    > What ist the real difference between the cisco and the cheaper ones ?
    >
    > Thanks
  6. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    You can get most of that in a D-link WAP... and you don't need the support
    'cos they just work. They have LEAP as well as WAP and the other security
    stuff (802.1x). No doubt they are more limiting in MAC's... but if thats an
    issue you can buy 4, get 4 times the throughput and 4 times the MAC
    handling. If you are talking US$ then they should be <= $80.

    - Tim


    "Walter Roberson" <roberson@ibd.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca> wrote in message
    news:cpb3g8$od5$1@canopus.cc.umanitoba.ca...
    > In article <kgvhr0hon8repol0j6sn4ika9k09r2d5sm@4ax.com>,
    > joecool <adzikiewicz@cox.net> wrote:
    > :I am going to have to add wireless capability to an existing network
    > :for a friend. So, I know that I could buy something like a linksys
    > :access point for about $80. I am also looking at the cisco which
    > :seems to go for about $350. My question is this
    >
    > :What ist the real difference between the cisco and the cheaper ones ?
    >
    > - More MAC addresses handled on the Cisco
    >
    > - Possibly higher transmit power on the Cisco [I have seen this written
    > but have not cross-checked for myself]
    >
    > - The Cisco supports 802.1x authentication with LEAP, not just
    > the insecure WEP or WEP128
    >
    > - The Cisco devices are still having features added to them through
    > software upgrades: you won't just get tune-ups and bug fixes, you
    > will get new features
    >
    > - The Cisco devices are more likely to officially be able to change
    > antenna; for any given Linksys, you might be able to hack it, but the
    > result is probably not going to be FCC compliant [the FCC certifies
    > the pair together, not the AP and antenna separately.]
    >
    > - The Cisco devices are extensively documented, and there is a
    > real support apparatus behind them. A non-trivial part of what you are
    > paying extra for is carrying part of the cost of the support team.
    > Especially if you pay for a support contract, then the Cisco site is
    > amazingly extensive, including tutorials, example configurations,
    > user guides, command references, and so on. The Linksys documentation,
    > on the other hand, is relatively basic, and doesn't even -mention-
    > how to use some of the boxes that are clearly there in the screen
    > snapshots.
    >
    > - Did I mention the support?? If you're putting this into a business
    > network where it is important that it be up, then if you get a
    > 24x7 support contract and you open an online case at 02:00 in the morning,
    > you *will* get a call back within a short time. Cisco's Technical
    > Assistance Centre works in shifts from all over the world; I've
    > received callbacks from Australia, UK, eastern US, and western US.
    > Now, the cost of that support contract might be more than the cost
    > of buying the Linksys outright, but if you are installing into a
    > business, an hour downtime costs the company a lot more than the
    > support contract.
    >
    > - If you start to get serious about putting APs into businesses,
    > Cisco has a device (which is expensive) that makes controlling security
    > and interference a lot easier. I haven't tried that yet, as I don't
    > have the budget for it.
    > --
    > Live it up, rip it up, why so lazy?
    > Give it out, dish it out, let's go crazy, yeah!
    > -- Supertramp (The USENET Song)
  7. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    In article <cpbnj1$k8h$1@lust.ihug.co.nz>, Tim <Tim@NoSpam.com> wrote:
    :You can get most of that in a D-link WAP... and you don't need the support
    :'cos they just work.

    D-Link might "just work" for the few situations -you- have tried, but I
    have gone through hundreds of postings and web sites about people's
    experiences, and the conclusion I came to was that "If D-Link works for
    you, it will perform acceptably well, but if it doesn't, you will
    probably *never* be able to figure out what's wrong with it and the
    support will likely be somewhere between clueless and actively harmful
    to your system and networks."

    D-Link is, as best I can tell, a consumer class device: you
    can buy it and try it out, but if it doesn't work for you in short
    order, then *get rid of it* because it'll just end up wasting your time.
    It's not a device to put into a business where an hour's downtime might
    cost the company several thousand dollars. Cisco might be expensive,
    especially their 1200 dual-radio series, but if you call in with
    a "network down" problem, then within a matter of hours, you will have
    someone digging through the code to solve your problem.

    It's a business decision: if your network is such that you can
    risk spending days or weeks off and on trying to figure out what's
    wrong with your wireless connections, and can afford to try out a few
    different low-end models and vendors, then and you have a lot of
    patience with trouble-ticket takers who don't have much clue about
    how the product works, then you can afford to work with D-Link and
    other such consumer devices. But if time is money to you, and you need
    the kind of support that drags a manufacturer's technician on-site
    until midnight one evening, then you have to play in the big leagues.


    :They have LEAP as well as WAP and the other security
    :stuff (802.1x). No doubt they are more limiting in MAC's... but if thats an
    :issue you can buy 4, get 4 times the throughput and 4 times the MAC
    :handling.

    If you are briding between two networks and the MAC table
    fills up on one of the devices, it is going to fill up on the other
    devices too, except now because you are working with multiple devices
    you have to worry about spanning tree hastles and about the different
    channels interfering with each other and the different AP's interfering
    with the AP's you've installed for the floor below and the wing
    across from you.


    Anecdote: a few years ago, when we were making the transition to
    100BaseT from 10BaseT, a 24 port 10/100 switch from Nortel cost about
    $5000, and a 24 port switch from SMC cost about $1000. We did the
    math, said "The SMC can't possibly be 5 times as bad", and so went
    with the SMC, trying one at first, with visions of saving literally
    tens of thousands of dollars when we went to upgrade all our switches.

    And everything was fine with the SMC at first, until one day we
    realized that some of the devices couldn't reach each other, and by
    experimentation realized that all the 10 Mb devices could see each
    other, and all the 100 Mb devices could see each other, but the 10 and
    100 couldn't talk. "Oh," SMC said after we'd already spent several days
    trying to figure out what was going on, "You have to buy a $1200
    software license to enable that feature. You missed the fine print in
    the advertisements." Well, $2200 was still a lot less expensive than
    $5000, so we paid up, and kept going, and everything seemed to be
    going fine.

    But I noticed little problems here and there whose only common element
    was the SMC, and although there was never anything as gauche as
    complete port failures, over the next several months, I underwent "The
    Death of 1000 Cuts", trying to track down why people sometimes could
    not get to the mail server, and having no joy. Eventually I tired of
    the unproductive late nights, convinced my boss that paying me overtime
    to track the issues was not a good use of my salary or my mental
    energies, and we got in the $5000 Nortel switch. And Bingo! the
    problems disappeared, and the error rates I could measure fell by a
    factor of 100 and I was able to do remote remote management instead of
    having to drop in our network probe inline and hope for the best.

    It would have been better if the SMC device had been widely faulty:
    then it would have been obvious that it needed to be torn out. But
    because it mostly worked, I lost a lot of nights trying to figure
    out where on our network the problems were and what could be done
    to fix them. What did other users have to say? "The SMC works
    great for me!"

    In our production network, the SMC proved to be a false economy -- and
    there wasn't anything in the technical specs that would have allowed
    us to know that. We had to live it and get burned for ourselves.


    Now these days I'm about to have to fight that fight all over again:
    unmanaged 5-port gigabit switches are ~$100 and quality 24 port
    gigabit switches are ~$3000. ~$3000 is enough to pay a postdoc for
    a couple of months, whereas it does't cost the researchers anything
    if -I- have to suffer through long nights trying to figure out what's
    going on. It doesn't cost -them- anything if I barely get to see my
    spouse during the week, and it doesn't cost -them- anything if I
    start burning out again. Sometimes a buck is just a buck, and
    sometimes it isn't. When it comes to networking equipment in a
    production environment, the -real- cost difference between
    consumer equipment and professional equipment is huge, and it's the
    consumer equipment that is the poorer value by far.
    --
    Oh, yeah, an African swallow maybe, but not a European swallow.
    That's my point.
  8. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    kbloch2001 wrote:
    > Best reason to buy Cisco is the quality. I manage a netowrk
    > with around 100 access points and bridges. Have had three
    > failures in the last year and all happened at the same time
    > due to a power surge on a circuit that was supposed to be
    > protected.
    >
    > Too many features to list. BTW the power ouput for the 350
    > series is up to 100 mwatts and is adjustable down to 1 mwatt.
    > The receivers on the Cisco are also better than most and
    > this increases the range and performance.

    I have heard some reports/grumbling/warnings that the radios
    on the Ciscos tend to fail "early" or "earlier than expected"
    (whatever that means). I am not sure what the failure modes are,
    or what times-to-failure people have observed, but I get the
    impression that the radios tend to fail after their
    one-year warranty has expired but not significantly longer
    (presumably to satisfy Murphy's Law).
    That is, they do not last as long as what you would expect
    given their cost and supposed quality.

    Is this true? Is their lower-than-expected lifetime due to their
    higher-than-usual transmit power? Would running them at lower
    than 100 mW, or switching them off after work or on weekends
    (where possible) instead of keeping them running 24/7,
    prolong their lifetime?

    As far as the receivers being "better", in my limited experience
    with a handful of Cisco 350 APs and workgroup bridges,
    they were unusable in the middle channels (3-4 to 8-9).
    Their built-in "spectrum analyzer" should almost 100%
    utilization in the middle channels even if the particular
    AP under test was the only unit powered on (residential
    environment with widely spaced houses) and an Avcom
    spectrum analyzer did not show anything happening on
    the entire 2.4 GHz band.

    Other non-Cisco APs had no problem using all eleven channels.
    I could not understand why the Ciscos thought the
    middle channels were almost 100% busy, and could only work on
    channels 1-2 or 10-11.
  9. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    "joecool" <adzikiewicz@cox.net> wrote in message
    news:kgvhr0hon8repol0j6sn4ika9k09r2d5sm@4ax.com...
    > I was hoping someone with expeience might help with a question.
    >
    > I am going to have to add wireless capability to an existing network
    > for a friend. So, I know that I could buy something like a linksys
    > access point for about $80. I am also looking at the cisco which
    > seems to go for about $350. My question is this
    >
    > What ist the real difference between the cisco and the cheaper ones ?

    slightly off topic - but the 350 is either obsolete, or scheduled to go out
    of manufacture.

    here is note giving dates for end of life in 2003 - not sure if it is for
    the entire 350 range, and you didnt give the model no#
    http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps458/prod_eol_notice09186a00801613bf.html

    the notes mention s/w support until oct 2004, unless you have a support
    contract, when they support until 2008 - but the contract needs to start at
    latest in oct 2004 - which may be why they have started to appear as 2nd
    hand boxes.

    if you want the equivalent current product, then look at the aironet 1100s -
    list starts at $600 / box....
    >
    > Thanks
    --
    Regards

    Stephen Hope - return address needs fewer xxs
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