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Best WiFi Technology For Older School

Posted on 2013-05-15
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Last Modified: 2013-05-30
I have a school which I consult for and we are running into issues in regards to the Wifi in the building.  It is an old school with thick brick walls between each classroom.  We currently have Aruba Wireless Hotspots located on the floors, but the signal is weak.  Any suggestions on how to best resolve the wifi signal, or which router/hotspots might work better.   Thanks
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Question by:Daniel Fishkin
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11 Comments
 
LVL 1

Assisted Solution

by:brettieh
brettieh earned 200 total points
ID: 39170523
As far as I can tell the Aruba AP's antennas can be upgraded, so if they have the regular omnidirectional antenna it may be worth upgrading to a higher gain antenna.  One of their
upgrades can be setup in an array.

http://www.arubanetworks.com/pdf/products/ap-ant-13b_ss.pdf

May be worth speaking to your manufacturer and seeing what they recommend, depending on the model of your AP's

Hope this helps.
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LVL 10

Assisted Solution

by:cpmcomputers
cpmcomputers earned 400 total points
ID: 39170604
Why not try some powerline adapters such as www.devolo.com 
I have used them in both domestic and business situations with great results
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LVL 22

Assisted Solution

by:Jakob Digranes
Jakob Digranes earned 600 total points
ID: 39170638
Aruba rocks :-)
so good choice there.

What APs do you have?
When it comes to poor wireless coverage - most likely more APs is the way to go.
But if you have 802.11a/b/g - you can profit quite a lot by upgrading to 802.11n where mulitpaths will extend wireless coverage for your part, whereas 802.11a/b/g - multipaths will weaken signal to clients.

Also - how many users do you have on each AP? how many devices? What services do you provide for users?

remember that if you have users with weak signal, they will probably have a data rate of 6mbps - which will give other users bad performance in general, since they have to wait for the 6mbps client to send its data - due to the extra use of air time to get the packets through at 6mbps
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LVL 10

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by:cpmcomputers
cpmcomputers earned 400 total points
ID: 39170648
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LVL 49

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by:Jackie Man
Jackie Man earned 200 total points
ID: 39170905
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Assisted Solution

by:ttfreer
ttfreer earned 200 total points
ID: 39204218
we have a similar problem with one of our schools. we had to put an AP in almost every room. the aruba 93h is a good solution. it mounts over the existing cat5 wall plates and is cost effective.


http://www.arubanetworks.com/products/access-points/ap-93h/
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LVL 22

Assisted Solution

by:Jakob Digranes
Jakob Digranes earned 600 total points
ID: 39204233
AP93 is good, but consider AP105 which is dual radio - so it will broadcast at both 2,4 and 5Ghz range - giving you to AP's in one :-)
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LVL 47

Assisted Solution

by:Craig Beck
Craig Beck earned 400 total points
ID: 39205729
Just remember with dual-band APs though - you're still pushing all of the client bandwidth through the same 100Mbps or 1Gbps switchport.

I agree with jakob_di though - the AP105 is a great radio.

If the building construction is mainly solid brick, etc, you might want to either not use 5GHz at all as it will most likely not go through the walls too well.  If it does you'll see the 6Mbps issue that jakob mentioned and that can give poor results for the reasons he explained.

On the other hand, 5GHz might not propagate through the walls at all.  That gives you an excellent opportunity (from a design perspective) to put one 5GHz AP in every room and therefore provide up-to 300Mbps per client if you use 802.11n.

2.4GHz is better at travelling through walls, etc, but it suffers from interference far more than 5GHz.  This means it's harder to simply place more APs in the area as if you put any more than 3-4 in close vicinity they start to interfere with each other.

If you're interested in other vendors though (jakob will moan at me here!), Cisco 802.11n APs do propagate slightly better than Aruba APs at 2.4GHz.  However, at 5GHz the Cisco and Aruba APs perform roughly the same.

Jakob might say at this point that you can use the Aruba APs without a controller which would make them far cheaper. - and he's right (on one count), but you can now order Cisco's x600 series APs with standalone or controller-based code, so they're roughly the same.

Just something to think about :-)
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LVL 22

Assisted Solution

by:Jakob Digranes
Jakob Digranes earned 600 total points
ID: 39207214
@CraigBeck ---  is it that obvious ??? :-)
Choosing vendor is - for now - a discussion where we probably never will agree.
But i guess one thing we could agree on.
No matter what vendor, as long as it is one the recognized enterprise solutions, and installed and configured properly - you'll never, most likely, will look back and regret.

i DO think Aruba is just as good as Cisco (better really, but then again - it's more than 5 years since I've done any major Cisco installs) - but if you install either one, it will work OK ..

on the side, Aruba is a caribbean island - beer beaches and probably babes, Cisco just squared factory buildings in San Fran ;-)
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LVL 47

Accepted Solution

by:
Craig Beck earned 400 total points
ID: 39207455
Haha I get your point!

I'm off to the Caribbean ;-)
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Author Closing Comment

by:Daniel Fishkin
ID: 39209928
Thanks so much for all your help and advise.  I will tackel this project this summer and let you know how it goes.
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