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Wireless access point load balancing solution

Posted on 2011-03-11
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Can you provide me with a wireless access point load balancing solution for about 30 users in a 1500 SF office space?
for example, I need to know;
1- access point model I need to purchase, and how many.
2- How to configure them?
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Question by:Shando1971
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11 Comments
 
LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:zane_o
ID: 35110576
You could probably handle this with 1 access point depending on the environmental factors and network usage. If you want some additional capacity and maybe fault tolerance, you could use two.
Take a look at Meraki, they make setup pretty easy for the novice and provide a nice cloud management interface. http://meraki.com/
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LVL 44

Expert Comment

by:Darr247
ID: 35125336
If you're going to have strictly 2.4GHz radios, nearly any business-grade model will work.
e.g. http://www.dlink.com/products/category/?cid=77
If you want specific recommendations, you need to supply more info...
Do you want them mounted on desktops, on the wall, on the ceiling, above false ceilings?
Are power outlets readily available near mounting points, or do you need PoE?
Do you want 2.4GHz 11g-only, 2.4GHz 11n, 2.4GH+5GHz 11g+a , 11g+n/11a+n?


Anyway, for 2.4GHz 11g I suggest getting three, assigning channels 1, 6 and 11 to them, and give each of them a unique SSID. e.g. Office-1, Office-6 and Office-11 respectively.

Deploy them according to how the people are dispersed and/or according to what kind of traffic each has.  i.e. if everyone is clustered on one side of the room, then deploying the APs with even spacing around the room would not be the most efficient arrangement. Each one should be hard-wired with Cat5e to the nearest ethernet switch. i.e. not configured as wireless repeaters.
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Author Comment

by:Shando1971
ID: 35125476
I'm sorry, I meant automatic load balancing, where we use one SSID.
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LVL 44

Accepted Solution

by:
Darr247 earned 167 total points
ID: 35128617
I have not heard of any such thing using just access points... if people are using the Windows Wireless Zero Configuration service, the client decides which AP to (try to) connect to.  Even MAC filtering wouldn't help, because the client still connects, it just doesn't get access.

It might be possible to use 3 APs like the DWL-3200AP (http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=396 ), enable their DHCP servers with a scope of 10 addresses each, then have all of them connected to a layer 3 switch set to block broadcasts between their ports... otherwise the APs with free addresses could still supply IPs through the 'fully loaded' APs because they would hear and respond to the BOOTP broadcasts, being on the same segment.

If you're willing to spend big bucks on this problem, a WLAN controller and matching APs from the same manufacturer might do what you want, though.
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LVL 6

Assisted Solution

by:zane_o
zane_o earned 333 total points
ID: 35128798
I would still look at Meraki. They will automatically setup and have a cloud-based controller. 2-3 MR16 models should do the trick, no problem.
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Author Comment

by:Shando1971
ID: 35130471
I called Meraki, and they don't have load balancing. the cloud based controller is to monitor the units, and that is all what it does.
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Author Comment

by:Shando1971
ID: 35130503
but I still might go for it, it is the best solution so far.
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:zane_o
ID: 35132881
Access points in general do not do "load-balancing" your device will connect to the access point that is nearest and has the best signal profile.
If you have three access points all sitting on top of one another, you might load balance them, but when they are spread out across a 1500 sq ft office, the devices will connect to the nearest one. You wouldn't want a device to connect to an access point that is further away, because even if it isn't as busy the connection rate would be lower due to distance.
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LVL 44

Expert Comment

by:Darr247
ID: 35133959
> "but when they are spread out across a 1500 sq ft office, the devices will connect to the nearest one."


Not if they have different SSIDs... then you can tell the client exactly which one to connect to without needing a 3rd party connection manager (almost all of which allow specifiying which channel to use when there are multiple channels with the same SSID, but which the windows WZC service does not allow).

1500 square feet is not that large, by the way... that's smaller than a 40' x 40' room (40x40=1600)... you can easily get a full speed connection 50 feet away from an AP.

11g should get at least a 1Mb connection (which should give about 500Kb/s real world throughput) at 300 feet with clear line of sight with an omni antenna.
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:zane_o
ID: 35134086
@darr247 - If you read all my comments, I started out saying that one would likely cover the space, but given the desire to "load balance" I was giving an example of what would happen with multiple APs in the space.
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LVL 6

Assisted Solution

by:zane_o
zane_o earned 333 total points
ID: 35134219
Plus the author specifically said "where we use one SSID"
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