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Wireless Router for Small Business

Last response: in Networking
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June 24, 2012 6:27:45 AM

I run a small business (no more than 12-15 simultaneous connections) and due to our location being an old double brick building across 3 levels maintaining wireless connectivity is a very big problem. Simply I would like some advice on what wireless router(s) would be best suited to this situation. Essentially looking for the best speed and range device for small business needs, no real budget, and would like to avoid having to set up repeaters everywhere. Also due to the building hard wired ethernet is not really an option.

Thank you in advance for any advice.
June 24, 2012 7:59:46 PM

One possibility is powerline adapters. Simple to use, basically zero configuration. But they don't work in every situation due to variantions in power line installations (e.g., having to cross a circuit breaker) or only work marginally (e.g., due to excessive line noise). But if you're a bit lucky, they can produce moderate to excellent results in the right setting. It's a hit or miss proposition. You just have to try a pair and see if it works for you.
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June 25, 2012 12:03:03 AM

I've seen these before, never used them though. Only thing there is would still need wireless access points for employees to connect their portable devices (phones, tablets, laptops(other than via ethernet)).
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June 25, 2012 12:20:31 AM

Correct. You're just just powerline as your backbone rather than ethernet. Wireless has its limits. It's not going to solve every problem, nor is it always possible to drop a single AP and expect it to be reachable by everyone. So you have to employ some creativity to make it work for you. And one way is a distributed AP network over a wired backbone (ethernet preferred, but powerline is perhaps a viable second option). But at least it would be relatively easy to manage. You can give all the APs the same SSID and keys, and that way you’ll have wireless roaming. IOW, as employees move from place to place and lose their current wireless signal, the client will simply pickup the nearest available wireless signal. Simple.
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June 25, 2012 12:26:22 AM

Will definitely look into what powerline options I can get my hands on here. Perhaps with one AP per office level it would do the trick. Is there any significant bandwidth limitations on using a powerline connection?

Also any advice on a quality wireless router/repeater would still be appreciated as will still need a couple I guess.
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June 25, 2012 12:40:30 AM

Powerline is all over the map in terms of performance. I've seen everything from a measly 2-3Mbps to 70Mbps. It just depends on the wiring, and there are just too many variables to consider. As I said, you just have to try it and see what you get. Great strides have been made in the technology over the past several years, with better performing devices being released all the time. Last I heard, 500Mbps adapters were the latest and greatest. Of course, those are "theoretical" numbers. Like wireless, no one comes close to it. But like wireless N vs G, in relative terms, 500Mbps powerline adapters will almost certainly outperform the older 300Mbps and 200Mbps powerline adapters.

As far as wireless routers/repeaters, I don't really have any specific recommendations, certainly not for a business class device. I'm not sure that your typical consumer router is the best choice. Just depends on exactly how you plan to use the network, whether you'll be offering services that need their own public IP (so you'd need a router that supported multiple public IPs, and your typical consumer routers does NOT), etc. So I'm hesitant about treating your situation like I do the numerous others in this forum who are merely in need of a simple home network. Requirements for each can vary greatly, perhaps in ways you're not anticipating!

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June 25, 2012 12:48:39 AM

Found some 500Mbps adaptors that look like they could do the job, I will as you said have to test it out and see, although after talking to the building owner apparently the wiring here is a mess and over several different circuits, not just on one. I assume that would render powerline adaptors useless if this was the case?
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June 25, 2012 1:24:26 AM

Again, try a pair and find out, no other way to be sure. Just make sure they accept returns. ;) 
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June 25, 2012 1:38:11 AM

Will do, thanks for the advice.
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June 26, 2012 12:11:54 PM

One small note on power line adapters: They don't work with powerstrips that have filters or power conditioning on them. The signal is filtered out. (Tried it.)
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July 3, 2012 12:33:08 AM

Just to close this out, I tried some powerline adaptors with no success. But then before forking out more money on a new router(s) and looking at more business oriented hardware, I borrowed one of these http://www.pccasegear.com/index.php?main_page=product_i... WiFi extenders from a friend and it makes a remarkable difference and is quite unobtrusive. Far better than repeaters I've seen / experienced in the past.

Not quite the one unit solution I was hoping for but certainly a cheap way to solve the issue, at least for now.
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July 3, 2012 12:33:33 AM

Best answer selected by Ninja Pants.
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