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802.11 Wireless Between Buildings on a Campus

Posted on 2014-01-16
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Last Modified: 2014-03-24
Looking for a reliable solution for 802.11 networking between buildings on a small campus.   One building will serve as the hub and I need to extend networking to up to 3 other buildings that are separated from the hub by somewhere between 200-400 feet.  There will be between 2 and 4 users in each of the outlying buildings.

I've used Aruba/Azelia product for this before but that solution seems like overkill in this environment.

I intend to make a small hardwired ethernet / wireless network in each of the buildings but want to use wireless to get between them.   I am not interested in "jury-rigging" things, I'm looking for hardware/vendor recommendations that can accomplish this as cleanly as possible.  

Of course as with everything else, budget is an issue, but not to the point of sacrificing quality / reliability.

Thanks.
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Question by:kdubendorf
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7 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:Kent Fichtner
ID: 39786151
The best solution I can think of would be to get 4 wireless routers with high output antennas.  One would be in the main building and the other three would be an access point.  This would assume that everyone in the other buildings have wifi.  You can also get high output unidirectional antennas.  The main router would have three antennas, each pointing at a different building, and the remote routers would have one pointing back and the other two would be omnidirectional.

We have an Asus RT-AC68U router that can do this.
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Craig Beck earned 1600 total points
ID: 39786970
Get yourself a set of Ubiquiti Nanostations.  They're dirt-cheap and are absolutely amazing for the money.  They'll do everything you want and more.

Contrary to what Amerilabkfichtner said (apologies if I upset you here), but pointing the antennas from a wireless router in different directions is not advisable, especially if 802.11n is being used.  You should not separate the antennas into discreet directional links as the transmissions are expected to be received on each antenna.  If you point them in different directions for separate remote sites you'll not get a very good service.
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by:Kaffiend
Kaffiend earned 400 total points
ID: 39787093
I'm a fan of Ubiquiti products as well - price-to-peformance ratio is hard to beat.

They also have higher-end products if you want more bandwidth (but if you only have a few users at each satellite building, that would be a hard sell)
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by:kdubendorf
ID: 39826718
I looked at the Ubiquiti products, I too have used them and are very happy with them.   The issue with their Unifi line but they come with omnidirectional outdoor antenna's.   I've been looking at the EnGenius ENH500 instead.   The advantage with it is that it has very directional antennas that can span upwards of a mile.   They have a great price point too.

I'm ordering them and will let you know how they work.  

I am using the Unifi AP's in the buildings.   I really like how well they work, they're nice looking too.
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Expert Comment

by:Craig Beck
ID: 39826778
I think you might be disappointed with the Engenius APs.  They aren't very stable in some firmware releases, and that's being nice about it!

I also think you may have overlooked some of the other Ubiquiti products, such as the Bullet-M or PicoStation-M.  They too can use an external antenna and in my opinion are far superior to the Engenius units.
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Author Comment

by:kdubendorf
ID: 39826875
craigbeck, thank you.   It was recommended to me by CDW Techsupport when they correctly pointed out that the Unifi product that I was looking at might be too omnidirectional.   I've had mixed experience with Engenius in the past and would be dissapointed if I had firmware problems with this.   I haven't had the same issues with Ubiquiti.

I've just reviewed the Nanostation and will take a look at the PicoStation-M.   My only wish is that they were a little more decriptive in the PDF sheets that I'm looking at (from their web site in the Airmax area).

Pricing doesn't look too bad either.   Any experience picking up the hardware from CDW versus Amazon?  

Thanks again.
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Expert Comment

by:Craig Beck
ID: 39826887
Well in terms of being descriptive, they use the same software as the UniFi APs.  AirMAX is their own brand of RF management features within the OS, and the AirMAX line of radios uses this technology (as do other Ubiquiti products in different product ranges).

I don't think you can get the PicoStation or Bullet from CDW.  A search on thier website doesn't look too promising.  I'd probably look at resellers like Streakwave or Ingram.

http://www.streakwave.com/product-ubiquiti.asp
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