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How to purchase a wireless access point.

Posted on 2003-03-06
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Last Modified: 2010-04-11
I would like to know if there are any BIG differences in todays wireless access points that should warrant paying more $$$ for it.

I now see linksys and netgear with the same options as the higher priced orinoco, 3com, and even cisco, yet, I can't find the justification to spend the extra $$$.

Thanks for your insight in advance.  Compinfo.
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Question by:compinfo
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7 Comments
 

Expert Comment

by:falban
ID: 8081190
The biggest concern I would have is quaility.  My logic is you get what you pay for.  I also belive that if you can make it yourself why buy it.  I built my own access point at home using a NetBSD server, Zebra routing software, and an Orinoco wireless access card.  

Another concern would be what is this being used for.  If it's just a simple home network used for surfing, email, etc. I'd go for the lesser priced hardware.  If your using this gear for production or high end network, then I would go with high end gear (Cisco is my drug of choice).


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Author Comment

by:compinfo
ID: 8081371
This would be used in a business environment.  You mentioned "quality".  Do you mean the company behind the product, the durability of the product, or the actual technology being used.

My question is regarding the technology behind the product.  Is there a difference?  Are there other features in the higher priced gear?  Am I paying for the name?  Why not use linksys, netgear, or d-link in a business environment?  Thanks for your reply!
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Author Comment

by:compinfo
ID: 8081425
This would be used in a business environment.  You mentioned "quality".  Do you mean the company behind the product, the durability of the product, or the actual technology being used.

My question is regarding the technology behind the product.  Is there a difference?  Are there other features in the higher priced gear?  Am I paying for the name?  Why not use linksys, netgear, or d-link in a business environment?  Thanks for your reply!
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Expert Comment

by:hstiles
ID: 8081717
I would say the main issues with WiFi are performance and security and interoperability.

A lot of the cheaper products simply don't provide the throughput that is claimed.  Set up routines can be irritating and management software is lacking.

I don't have a lot of experience with different products - I use a Cisco WAP and card at home, but's because I got given them, so there.  I would also venture that part of your decision should be based on whether you use XP on your desktops or not.  If you're using XP, it supports wireless from the off, meaning that you can browse for wireless networks, etc...  This might remove the need for extensive client management tools.  That said, if it's difficult to configure the Access points, then there's no point.  You'd also want intelligent load balancing meaning that a client would switch to a less busy Access point of one became available, allowing you to build a simple wireless mesh.

Furthermore, the bigger suppliers like Intel and Cisco would probably be better at providing card and Access point driver and firmware updates.

I wouldn't have a problem the likes of DLINK or Linksys, but might not be that tempted to use Buffalo or other cheapo makes.

The final question is whether you're happy with 802.11b 11Mbps or whether you want to push for newer faster standards and 54Mbps
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Expert Comment

by:falban
ID: 8082321
Well put hstiles.

If it's a business environment I would go for Cisco or other high-end hardware.  While the price is greater, so is the service and support.  

Alot of products claim to do alot of things.  I worked for a .com (or .bomb as you were) company a few years ago that was trying to produce a wireless router.  They claimed it did a lot of things that it did not.  Needless to say I didn't stay long at that job and that company is no longer!  Although companies like Linksys and Dlink are large companies and are not going anywhere, I'd still stay with Cisco who started out and leads the market in network products.
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Accepted Solution

by:
tnguy earned 150 total points
ID: 8100219
I use Orinco (802.11B) in my classroom of 11 PCs, and a D-Link (802.11B) network at home. Both work great, but the D-Link seems a little more user friendly, and runs at 22Mbps as opposed to the standard 11Mbps. 802.11G has much more bandwidth, 54Mbps, for usage by several PCs, but the IEEE standards are not complete (last I knew). I don't think you will want to go with 802.11A, because of the limited coverage area it provides. There are Pros and Cons to each standard. The following links may shed some light.

http://www.vicomsoft.com/knowledge/reference/wireless1.html

http://www-1.ibm.com/services/its/us/source/wirelessschool.pdf

http://wireless.ittoolbox.com/nav/t.asp?t=379&p=379&h1=379
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Expert Comment

by:ferg-o
ID: 8108916
We have just gone through a major evaluation of low-end 802.11 access points to come up with an SME wireless/firewall bundle for Hong Kong businesses. HK people are very shrewd (and tight!) when iy comes to money so it was essential. Also HK Island is now covered in wireless broadband.

Like everyone else I would like to use Cisco or Avaya kit everywhere! But when we can get a solution for $150 US that does essentially the same thing..........
 
The best at the end price v. performance was in fact EagleTec. We run 22mbps EagleTec now in the office. I took our Intel AP home because it was slower. The ETs do not support PPPoE very well so that may be a consideration. Next inline is Linksys - cheap, fast and reliable for both a and b. A bit on the ugly side. The Netgear was OK - we had to bounce it a few times though so not sure on the reliability.

We'd all like to use Cisco ar Avaya - however they are dropping their prices at the low-end too because the cheap devices use the same chips!


 
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