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Wireless bridging (P2P) solution recommendation - Cisco

Posted on 2013-01-02
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Last Modified: 2013-01-04
A customer needs to bridge between their main building and another small location (less than 10 nodes) in a satellite structure approximately 500' away (across a large parking lot). Wired-only connectivity in the satellite location - high performance is not an issue here - connectivity/reliability is key.

What's the best Cisco option anymore for this? The 1300/1400-series bridges are gone/EOL, and Cisco redirects to the ExaltAir as a placeholder, but these are high-performance (and $5K each). We're looking for the least expensive solution.

I've researched the workgroup bridge (WGB) functionality present in the 1242's, and it seems that this might be a viable solution, but these are indoor APs, so they'd need to be mounted indoors and antennas mounted outside somehow.

I'm looking for a parts list for the best cost-effective solution - the APs have to be Cisco, but I'm open to 3rd-party (Terrawave, etc.) antennas.

Thank you
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Question by:cfan73
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by:usslindstrom
ID: 38738881
Why be dead-set on just Cisco?

There are MANY options when it comes to point-to-point systems, and depending on your needs most of them are MUCH cheaper than what Cisco has on the table.

http://www.wlanparts.com/category/wlan.point_to_point_systems/

I've personally used/installed a few of the point-to-point options from Ubiquiti and EZ-Bridge, and have excellent results from both vendor equipment.  (One instance, there was a requirement to shoot tagged frames through the wireless - and it did it just as I had hoped).
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by:cfan73
ID: 38740100
Thanks for the response, but it's a requirement for the project/contract - again, we can choose antennas from 3rd-party options, but the infrastructure gear has to be Cisco.
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by:usslindstrom
ID: 38742706
Apologies then...  Hopefully somebody can chime in on the Cisco aspect then.

Every time I've driven down the road of Cisco wireless, it always seemed to me that the price range was always 2/3rd's more than other vendors.  (Our Enterprise decided to go with Brocade; 700+ access points w/controllers because of it.  Going the Cisco route, with same specs, literrally was 3 times more expensive).

Don't get me wrong, I'm a Cisco fan...  But sometimes the cost doesn't justify the results.  :)
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Expert Comment

by:Craig Beck
ID: 38743482
If it has to be Cisco you don't need to use the WGB feature.  The 1242s are able to bridge properly using Root and Non-Root mode (one on each AP).

The 1242 will only give you a 54Mbps radio link though, so consider using the 3502E instead so you can achieve a 300Mbps link (130Mbps+/- data throughput) at 5GHz.  It wouldn't be worth using the 1252 APs now as they usually cost more than the 3500s and they require PoE+.

Cisco have some antennas of their own for this purpose.  The AIR-ANT5195P-R would be a good candidate for this scenario if you use the 1242.  You'd also need a lightning arrestor at each end (AIR-ACC245LA-R).

If you choose to use an 802.11n AP such as the 3502E you can use the AIR-ANT5160NP-R= antennas and 3x lightning arrestors per AP.
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Author Comment

by:cfan73
ID: 38744519
Thanks for the feedback - a couple quick follow-up questions:

The extra BW afforded by implementing an "n" AP isn't really going to matter here, as the requirements for the remote site are minimal (reliability over speed).

1) The AIR-ANT5195P-R antenna you recommended has a single lead/port, while the 1242 AP has dual 5-GHz ports. Is leaving one of the antennas disconnected a concern, at least for this use case?

2) Can any Cisco APs be used for this kind of bridging (such as the newer, less expensive 1600's), or is it particular to certain APs?   I reference the following text in the Cisco configuration guide for IOS-based APs: "The 1140, 1200, 1240, and 1250 series access points and the 1300 access point/bridge can be configured as root or non-root bridges", but not sure if that's an exhaustive list or even current...

Thanks again
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Craig Beck earned 500 total points
ID: 38744666
The second port isn't required when bridging as diversity isn't necessary.  It's standard to use a single antenna for this type of link.

As far as I am aware the Autonomous code allows bridging on all platforms including the 1600 series, however I can not confirm that.  I know you can do it on the 3500 and 1260.

Are you sure the 1600 is cheaper than the 1242?
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Author Closing Comment

by:cfan73
ID: 38744814
Yes, the 1600 is $100 less (list) than the 1242.

Since I haven't been able to confirm anywhere (yet) that the 1600s will support this (or anything not referenced in that configuration guide), I'll go with the 1242 recommendation to be certain.

Thanks again for your assistance.
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