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I need help finding a wireless router for public use

Last response: in Wireless Networking
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August 11, 2012 12:03:12 PM

I've been asked to set up wireless access for a small church auditorium. Right now I'm thinking my approach will be to get 100' Ethernet cable and 100' extension cord and mount the router on the ceiling or a wall near the middle of the auditorium. Any advice on how to approach this would be helpful.

I'm also trying to find a good router to recommend - right now I'm looking at the Linksys E1200, but I don't know if this is the best option for a public router.
August 11, 2012 1:53:32 PM

That is a very good router and would work, but like all consumer routers used as access points it will only handle a limited number of connections before it starts dropping them -- usually 12-15 maximum in my experience. If you anticipate more (like folks with cell phones using your wi-fi) you may need to go to a commercial grade access point.

How many clients will it be expected to handle and what shape is the auditorium, any walls of major obstructions inside? Do you plan to use the N or G channels (or mixed) and would you have need for simultaneous dual channel wireless?
August 12, 2012 3:25:02 AM

I couldn't agree more w/ Realbeast. Remember, when using wireless, everyone is sharing the same wireless freq/channel, so everyone one is queued up for their turn at the wireless radio. And which explains why wireless doesn't scale very well.

When I hear the word "auditorium", I think large numbers of ppl. Even if we assume the room is relatively free of obstructions (esp. if the AP is mounted high), it's almost the least of your concerns. Worst case scenario, some joker is downloading large files or streaming HD content over that same router. You really need to consider a router (or network of routers) that provides QoS controls, perhaps refusing/governing certain traffic based on type, source, etc. Maybe even "per user" bandwidth limits.

Now whether any consumer-grade router is up to the challenge, even a good one, is the 64k question. I have serious doubts since the audience these products are intended to attract don’t typically have such requirements. And in turn, the manufacturer sees no need to provide otherwise unnecessary features (esp. for a $40-50 router).

I guess you can always start off small and hope for the best. But don't be surprised if on your first experience w/ a medium to large crowd, you have performance problems.
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August 12, 2012 7:38:41 PM

The point made about a limited number of people able to connect at any one time was my main concern. I'll have to ask about the congregation's average attendance. If it's less than 60 - I would assume the Linksys router would work fairly well. As an alternative though, would this router - D-Link Xtreme-N Duo Wireless Bridge/Access Point (DAP-1522) be more reliable when tasked with servicing a greater number of connections?
August 12, 2012 8:16:43 PM

No consumer router will handle 60 connections even if they do not use up all the bandwidth available, it is an issue with the number of connected devices.

While that device (the DAP-1522) is fine, it is not simultaneous dual band, and all of your connections are very likely still going to be 2.4GHz band connections anyway (even if you went with a simultaneous dual band) -- so you will saturate the device at somewhere around 12-15 users and then everyone will start getting randomly dropped when new connections occur.

What is your budget?

With 60 users you will definitely need something more than just a single consumer access point or router configured as an AP. You are probably looking at a Cisco Aironet entry level small business AP or the equivalent.

You need to research your purchase carefully to insure that you buy everything that you need, and don't have to later add a wireless LAN controller to make it work that you might not expect up front.
August 13, 2012 2:23:28 AM

At an average attendance of 60 - I'm assuming not everyone is connected at once, but it's certainly enough people to be pushing the limits of the consumer router. From past observation I would say only 10-20% of the people any congregation I've been to with WiFi are actually using it.

I am not sure what their budget is, but I would guess they wouldn't want to spend an enormous amount of cash if it's a small congregation.

How many simultaneous connections could this router handle? -> Cisco Aironet 6021

What else might I need aside from a router, Ethernet cable, and extension cord?

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August 13, 2012 2:04:23 PM
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AFAIK that device would require a Cisco Wireless LAN controller and would probably still not be robust enough for your use. You probably need something more like a AIR-AP1041N-x-K9 (not the AIR-LAP1041N as it requires a controller).

Take a look through some design materials on the Cisco website, which will assist in your planning and understanding of the issues involved: http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/collateral/wireless/ps5...
August 14, 2012 7:59:12 AM

Best answer selected by smartwind.
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