Wireless Network Problems in College Sorority


I recently picked up a college sorority as a client. They were having various issues with their Internet Access where it would drop off and come back intermittently. All of the girls have either laptops or desktops with wireless adapters from about every vendor you can imagine. They were using Apple's Airport WAP's and had some funky fujitsu router/firewall.

I installed 6 Netgear WG302's and a NetGear FWAG114 Wireless Router/Firewall. For most of my offices (smaller) the Netgear Firewall/Router line has worked well. This was my first experience with the WG302 device. I like the idea of AutoCell propogate where channel and power management is done automatically. Netgear uses this in its newer WAPs. I also put in an HP 2524 Managed Switch.

I read on broadbandreports.com that there were several known issues with the WG302's so I decided to seek help from an inside sales rep at Netgear. He was very helpful and got me to an engineer who sent me beta code v3.04 for the WAPs. I could not use the Web interface to do the updates and instead used tftp. Once they were all updated I mounted them in the same locations as the old Apple WAPs. There are two living floors in the shape of an L. The WAPs are located in the middle of each leg of the L and are mounted almost to the ceiling. There are about 24 users on each leg of the L (48 total users on each floor with 2 WAPs. 96 total users with 4 WAPs between the two floors.)

One thing i noticed is that these girls have every imaginable music/video/file sharing app known to man, i.e. Kazaa, Gnutella, BearShare, etc. They are also heavy on AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and MSN Messenger.

Now to the question:

The Internet is still intermittent. Users experience random drops in Internet access at different times of the day. I have Insight BB(cable modem with 4x256) coming next week to verify the cable run. Am I overloading these WAPs and this firewall/router? Does it matter to the nature of whats being done on the network or is it more of an issue with the number of users per WAP? I am looking for some good hard advice on whether I did them a dis-service with Netgear and instead should have stuck to my gut feeling and gone with Cisco WAPs. What is a good mid-range router/firewall that is robust enough to handle almost 100 users?
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I would check that the AutoCell feature on the Access Points is working properly.  Download netstumbler and scan the area and see if the same channel is appearing in the area in question.  If the same channel is in the same area the wireless cards will have trouble locking on to a signal.


I would also check the way that the clients are setup.

Set them all to connect through windows, and then make sure that the properties are setup below.  These instructions may be different if Service Pack 2 is installed.

1.  Click on the Wireless Connection Icon in the bottom right corner of the computer screen
2.  Click on Properties when the Card Status Dialog box opens
3.  Click on Advanced
4.  Under Internet Connection Firewall make sure the box is UN-checked
5.  Next, click on Wireless Connections
6.  Under Preferred Networks click on the network name that you are using
7.  Click on Properties
8.  Click on Authentication
9.  Make sure that the Enable 802.11x authentication checkbox is UN-checked

Hope this helps



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When you say Internet drops, do you mean that a given user is unable to connect or that no one can access the Internet (as detected by a direct connection the the router firewall)?  If problem only affects given user, can the user ping the AP?
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