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Adding wireless capability to wired building (802.11g)

Posted on 2006-07-21
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Last Modified: 2013-11-09
Hello,

I've looked at some other posts about extending wireless capabilities, but none really seem to address my question of adding it.

Our office actually occupies three separate sections (two cinder-block fire walls that extend to roof) of a strip mall complex, and uses approximately 30 thousand square feet (or more).  The T1 line is on one of the end sections.  There are lots of offices (i.e., stud walls) to hamper the wireless connection, and all lighting is flourescent (which, I'm assuming, may also interefere with wireless).  The sections are connected to the T1 either by multiple LAN connections off a bridge (in the case of the middle section), or in the case of the section most distant from the T1, triple transceiver optic cable.

There are plenty of wired locations throughout all sections of the office.

What would be the best solution to enable secure (WPA, minimum) wireless networking so that a given computer, if enabled, could access the wireless network throughout the entire office?  Other articles about extending wireless networks refer to high gain antennas and WAP's, but most don't assume wired jacks throughout the location they want extend the wireless network to.

I'm not sure, however, if multiple wireless routers can be used / configured on these wired ports (to allow a single machine to access the wireless network anywhere) and configured so that they don't conflict.  Ideally, the wireless access points would be hidden above the hung ceiling, which in some cases, are 14 feet high.  Any help?

P.S. - $$$ is not much of an issue (need to keep the solution less than $5,000, though).
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Question by:kmoloney
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by:kmoloney
ID: 17152976
Another P.S. - don't know if this is an issue or not, but we use static IP on our class B internal network (10.XXX.XXX.XXX) for the wired connections; We have appliances that track browsing, block sites, etc., based on IP, so we'd prefer to disable DHCP and go with static IP's if possible.
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by:f-king
ID: 17153058
Hi
Have you thought about internet through your electric outlet.there are products where you connect your pc to the wall socket and then you can access the internet,they even offer wireless through this method.
here is a short description of it at
http://www.polytrax.com/2prod/2prod.html

You can buy some here at:
http://www.corinex.com/web/docx.nsf/w/eng-powerline
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by:kmoloney
ID: 17153297
f-king,

Only problem I see with that is each of the three sections of the office has its own main electrical supply (three main different circuits).  It also appears to use NAT to assign IP addresses, rather than allowing the user to configure static IP addresses.  In any case, don't know if this could be configured so that a computer in one building section could be used in another building section.
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by:esdxr26
ID: 17153639
An Omnidirectional Transceiver is what you need...

http://www.hyperlinktech.com/web/antennas_2400_in.php

Also some instruction on setting up a hotspot, might help you.  Obviously you dont need a massive antennae.

http://www.wlan.org.uk/lets_set_up_a_community_wlan.doc

Davie
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by:kmoloney
ID: 17153762
Hmmm...the transceiver would simply extend a single wireless connection throughout the office?  According to their site, "Signals generally will not penetrate metal or concrete walls," so I have those cinder-block walls to contend with.

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by:esdxr26
ID: 17154112
Yes, they can't guarantee a decent signal...

I set up a wireless network with a 9db transceiver last year on a sporting estate.  We fixed the transceiver into the loft in one of the outhouses and connected it to a satellite dsl system.  The outhouse had 3 foot thick granite walls.  The buildings it was boosting to where within 100 yrds around the outhouse and they had similiarly thick walls, this signal was being transmitted through the roofing, wood and slate and the signal quality was above medium.  Outside it was perfect.

What about putting one of these in the loft space and using access points with 'directional' transmitters pointing to it within each section of the office block between the granite walls.  You probably would need the directional transmitters anyhow, it would likely be enough.
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by:esdxr26
ID: 17154129
...you probably wouldnt need the directional transmitters (spelling mistake)
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by:wingspin
ID: 17154771
I've used a much more simple approach in my office.  It too, is completely wired, so I just added wireless access points throughout the building.  I use WEP and I don't broadcast any SSID's other than the single access point configured for guests in our main conference area.  When I set up the wireless laptops, I have to configure them for each wireless access point.  Once configured, the user can roam throughought the building and if it loses connectivity to one access point, it will switch to another.  

All of my wireless access points are actually routers (because I got a deal on them) but they do not run DHCP (all have a static IP themselves) and they are used only as hubs or access points.  Initially, I did broadcast SSID's while I was doing the setup and turned it off later with no problem.  In most areas, you can detect 3 of the access points with one being significantly stronger in each loacation.  
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by:JamesTX10
ID: 17155359
I would go with wingspin's idea. You would be setting up your ntework like cell towers. I would guess that your users prolly do not move around while using their internet connection so this setup should work great.
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by:kmoloney
ID: 17158487
Wingspin,

I like your idea.  Let me run this by my tech guy.  Other suggestions are welcome in the meantime.

Of particular concern is maximizing the signal strength and speed of the wireless connection, because Doctors will be using it to generate medication reviews, review laboratory results, and order prescriptions online while the consumer (patient) is in the office.  A slow connection might extend the duration of the contact and cause the consumer an undue wait.
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by:jasonr0025
ID: 17158774
 I have several similarly sized business that I have installed wireless for.  Buy 4-8 AP's (linksys low-end but works fine-cisco airnet highend).
Use a pc and patchcord to program each AP to a static address and your choice of encryption.  You can use a wireless signal meter after you install the first to keep adding the rest to fill in the dead spots.  Mounting them in the ceiling doesn't hurt anything, just keep the antennae vertical.
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by:kmoloney
ID: 17158991
Jason,

Got any suggestions on where to buy a wireless signal mieter?
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by:jasonr0025
ID: 17159734
Check with radio shack, best buy or circuit city.  If they don't have one you can deffinetly get one online.  I will post a link shortly
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by:lukeca
ID: 17162327
I agree with wingspin as well.  If you get regular wireless access points they are esentially the same as ethernet jacks, in the sense that they are just an extension of your existing network, so you could use the same static IP setup that you use with the wired desktops.  Also I have had great luck with setting the SSID's and WEP key's the exact same on all the wireless access points, and if you walk around the area you set up pinging something, you can see you only loose like one ping when the laptop hops to a stronger signal access point.
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by:kmoloney
ID: 17165001
Maybe I'm missing something here.  Wouldn't it be possible to simply use one Wireless Access Point, and extend it using multiple hardwired antennas (perhaps six or eight)?  This way, there is only one configuration, but the signal is made pervasive by extending it's reach.
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by:lukeca
ID: 17165172
Well most access points can only accept one or two antennas at the most
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wingspin earned 500 total points
ID: 17167353
You probably could use an array of attennas but the "cell tower" approach takes advantage of existing wiring and pretty much makes the installation as easy as plugging the AP into an ethernet jack.  As jasonr0025 said above, the programming of the AP's is simple and you can check for dead spots with a meter (or really just walk around with a laptop while continually refreshing the "view available wireless networks" for a rough estimate) to check your coverage.  A meter is better though, I borrowed one from our telephone system contractor.  

I tried to do what lukeca suggested and have all my SSID's the same but I quickly ran into a problem and I probably gave up on the idea too quickly. If all the SSID's were the same it would be really sweet.  As is, my net works very well and I named each SSID geographically so I can push the closest AP to the top of the list for the user.  

I do notice that the wireless is noticeably slower than the wired connection - but it is still fast enough to be very useable.  I've had no complaints.  
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