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How to setup a wifi network to support 200+ users?

Last response: in Networking
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October 25, 2011 12:51:47 AM

Hi everyone,

The temple I go to needs to setup a wifi network that can support 200+ users at a time. I'm trying to help them out but I have very limited knowledge about networking. They currently have 20Mbps internet service with Comcast in the main lobby. They want to extend the network to 4-6 different classrooms, each with about 30-40 students studying english and basic computer skills. I'm thinking about buying a powerful router and a switch, then connected 4-6 wireless router to this switch and create different wireless SSIDs for each router. Is this the right way to do? If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. Also, if you have recommendations on what equipment to buy, please also suggest. Currently their budget for buying the equipment is about $1500.

Many thanks.
October 25, 2011 1:26:57 AM

Usually you don't want more than about 25 people connecting to a single wireless access point at a time. Yes you might be able to get more to connect, however the signal interference will be through the roof, connections will be unreliable and slow.

If they did want to stick with wireless they'd have to effectively get a wireless AP for each room, each wired back to a single switch.
Each AP would need its own SSID, and you'd have to decrease the signal strength to minimise interference from the other AP's.

A decent wireless AP will cost around $150-200, we currently use Cisco 4410n's in the office. For a good switch you could be looking at upwards of $500. We currently use Extreme x350 48 port, which would be a bit overkill for you, but cost a bit over $2000 each.
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October 25, 2011 2:49:42 AM

hi areal!

Do I need to buy a heavy duty router to use with the switch because I imagined the topology like this:

Comcast modem --> router --> switch --> Wireless routers

I also found this load balancer on newegg and plan to use it as a combined router and switch: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

but I don't know what it mean by 2x WAN and 4x LAN. Does it mean I can use only 2 ports for wireless routers?

Also, in the case of a class room with 40 students, a single wireless router seems not sufficient enough if a router is supposed to support only 25 people. Is there a way to let all these 40 students have wireless access in the room?

Sorry for asking too many questions. I really appreciate your help.
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October 25, 2011 3:40:36 AM

Load balancing is in regards to two external connections acting as one. Usually used if you have two ADSL connections and want them to be combined.
WAN is wide area network, in this case it would be your internet.
LAN is local area network, these would be used to connect up all the wireless APs.
I wouldn't recommend getting that load balancing router, as you won't utilise the dual WAN ports.

You will need a router if you require DHCP services (IP assigning) and NAT. The comcast modem may have DHCP support, but for that many clients I'd say getting a router could be a good idea too.

For the 40+ students, a single wireless AP might work, but be very slow and unstable.
You could put two wireless APs in the room, one at the back and one at the front, then assign half the room to connect to the front and the other half to connect to the back.

Keep in mind, a wireless Access Point differs from a wireless router. The AP doesn't have DHCP capabilities, and acts effectively like a wireless switch.

With the internet connection being 20Mbps it theoretically can reach max speeds of 2.5mb/s. If the users aren't going to be connected to a server or file sharing then a 10/100 network should suffice.
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October 25, 2011 4:51:14 AM

Best answer selected by teedee.
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October 25, 2011 4:54:01 AM

thanks arael!

do you have any good router in mind to suggest for the DHCP services?

I normally go to newegg and sort by rating but most of the highest rated routers are sold at low price, like $30-$50 so I'm not sure if they could handle that many clients or not. Also does it matter if I use a wired or wireless router as the main router for the DHCP services?

many thanks.
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October 25, 2011 5:24:31 AM

I'd stick with a wired router in the setup you indicated above.
Comcast modem --> Router --> Switch --> Multiple wireless APs.

I tend to lean towards Cisco for networking needs, the 867 sounds like it would suit your needs.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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October 25, 2011 1:10:48 PM

This topic has been closed by Area51reopened
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