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WiFi network setup for 200 users

Last response: in Wireless Networking
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January 2, 2013 4:47:21 AM

Hi everyone,

I want to setup a wifi network in my office that can support 200+ users at a time. I'm trying to but I have very limited knowledge about networking. We currently have 2 5MBPS internet leased lines. The total office area is around 2000sq ft, all open, separated by glass walls only. I'm thinking about buying a powerful load balancing router and a switch, then connected 4-6 wireless router to this switch and give single wireless SSIDs to all routers. I want to keep one single network for all the users. 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 our budget for buying the equipment is about $1500.

Many Thanks.
January 2, 2013 8:31:35 AM

I think that the only difficulty you are going to face while taking on this project is your budget!

The fact that the area you plan to cover is opens with glass walls is very helpful since glass does not block the wireless signal. This means that you will probably be able to use less Access Points (not routers) than you would otherwise need.

You will need a Gbit backbone to allow the traffic to access the gateway without battlenecking on its way out, so be sure to get a switch and router with Gbit ports.
The acual Access Points don't need to be more than 54Mbps (wireless G class). It would probably be best to use 54Mbit APs so you can again prevent bottlenecks.

You will probably need more than 4-6 APs to cover the large are you intend to cover. You sould also think about adding a firewall to your setup since it is an office and you will need more security than what the router is offering.

As far as equipment recomendations go you should probably be looking at small business hardware options so you can get good quality equipment that will last. You could look into D-Link or Cisco Small business for something like that.

For the setup you will have your Internet gateways connected to the load-balancer/router then to the switch and all the APs on the switch. Use one SSID and password as you said and be sure to set the APs to adjacent channels. Also be sure to have only one DHCP server running on the network. Manually assign IP addresses to all the APs, router, gateways and switch (if its managed).

As a final suggestion, plan this network out before making any purchases! Check if you have power outlets available for all APs, figure out where you will be laying the cables and how well the signal must be to cover all areas.

Good Luck!
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January 3, 2013 10:22:59 PM

By going wireless you open your network to outside interference and hackers that just want to cause problems , even though your buisness might not be a target for someone trying to steal intellectual property. You also have to consider outside interference from many sources , microwave transmissions and radio waves that are close to the frequency the the APs and wireless router uses.
A wired network solution might be more secure and easier to set up with a couple of 100 port switches and a decent firewall.
However it may not be practical if your office is already up and running and running wires every where would be disruptive.
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January 3, 2013 11:31:09 PM

Have to agree with both the post above. If your users are ONLY going to use the wireless to surf the web then you will be bottle necked by your internet connection. If they are going to run outlook servers and file shares etc etc then you need a lot more AP than you plan. You should not plan more than 10 active users per AP....cisco and other large vendors say 3-7 but they want to sell you lots of equipment. Key here is to define ACTIVE.

With this many users you will need to use WPA2 enterprise mode on your AP. You will need a radius server to do this. You cannot use preshared keys. Someone will learn the key and leave the company and then you have to touch 200 machines.

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January 4, 2013 1:55:27 AM

You nay be raising your budget as you can see that getting 200+ people on a network is not going to be done with equipment that you would use for the home.
I worked in a small office at one time where it would have been very easy to put a router and even just one Ap and they did not . Everything was wired and they had a pair of 15 port switches and a firewall.
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January 4, 2013 3:11:36 AM

pranjal379 said:
Hi everyone,

I want to setup a wifi network in my office that can support 200+ users at a time. I'm trying to but I have very limited knowledge about networking. We currently have 2 5MBPS internet leased lines. The total office area is around 2000sq ft, all open, separated by glass walls only. I'm thinking about buying a powerful load balancing router and a switch, then connected 4-6 wireless router to this switch and give single wireless SSIDs to all routers. I want to keep one single network for all the users. 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 our budget for buying the equipment is about $1500.

Many Thanks.

m
0
l
January 4, 2013 5:43:12 AM

Thanks for your suggetions Ngrego,

I am now quite clear on the setup plan. However, I am still fighting on deciding which router / Switch and AP should I Purchase. I believe, I must go with one single brand so that there wont be any issue in communication in between the devices.

Can you please suggest me some good Hardware Options.

Thanks in advance.
Pranjal


ngrego said:
I think that the only difficulty you are going to face while taking on this project is your budget!

The fact that the area you plan to cover is opens with glass walls is very helpful since glass does not block the wireless signal. This means that you will probably be able to use less Access Points (not routers) than you would otherwise need.

You will need a Gbit backbone to allow the traffic to access the gateway without battlenecking on its way out, so be sure to get a switch and router with Gbit ports.
The acual Access Points don't need to be more than 54Mbps (wireless G class). It would probably be best to use 54Mbit APs so you can again prevent bottlenecks.

You will probably need more than 4-6 APs to cover the large are you intend to cover. You sould also think about adding a firewall to your setup since it is an office and you will need more security than what the router is offering.

As far as equipment recomendations go you should probably be looking at small business hardware options so you can get good quality equipment that will last. You could look into D-Link or Cisco Small business for something like that.

For the setup you will have your Internet gateways connected to the load-balancer/router then to the switch and all the APs on the switch. Use one SSID and password as you said and be sure to set the APs to adjacent channels. Also be sure to have only one DHCP server running on the network. Manually assign IP addresses to all the APs, router, gateways and switch (if its managed).

As a final suggestion, plan this network out before making any purchases! Check if you have power outlets available for all APs, figure out where you will be laying the cables and how well the signal must be to cover all areas.

Good Luck!

m
0
l
January 8, 2013 12:46:34 PM

Well for the 200 users you plan to provide for I would usualy suggest Cisco to anyone who asked, but since your budget is not going to support the cost of Cisco hardware you should look elsewhere.
I have installed some DLink hardware in various sites that have prooved to be a decent buy, very durable and reasonably easy to setup. Dlink also provide a range of networking hardware that will probably fit your budget also.
You should check out your lical market to see what is available to you to begin with and then take it from there.
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