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AP Suggestion for solid AC preformance

Posted on 2015-02-04
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Last Modified: 2015-02-09
I wanted to know if any one had any suggestions for an AC Access Point for me. I already have a cisco router and it works flawlessly but it doesn't have wireless.

We currently have 2 WAP371 from cisco and their performance is absolutely pitiful. Even with the money we have put into these we are willing to just trash them at this point since they simply have no broadcast strength at all and and fail to provide any connection at all at about 20 feet. Our old Linksys E3000's perform leaps and bounds better and we never had a problem with them. (at lease 3 times better) We are just looking for something more robust and reliable.

Budget is between 200 and 400 an AP would like something that will seamlessly hand off the connection to AP's with better signal strength.

Although I'm perfectly happy with our cisco router I have no desire to do business with them again I just don't understand how they can release a product with such incredibly bad performance.

Thanks for your help,
Stuart
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Question by:beatified
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by:Craig Beck
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To be fair the small business range is poor, but their enterprise kit is worlds apart.  You'll probably not get an 802.11ac AP from Cisco's Aironet range within your price bracket but if you can I'd have no problem using them.

If you really don't want Cisco look at Ubiquiti.  Their Pro APs are excellent and a lot cheaper.
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Craig Beck earned 500 total points
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Look at Ubiquiti Unifi-UAP AC access points... They're around £150GBP.
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by:gheist
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You can find some supported by OpenWRT in GBP50-60 range (just pointing finger that software on cheap APs will not be nice)
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by:jhyiesla
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We used to use some fairly pricey AP from Proxim, but kept having issues with them.  I now have two Apple AirPort Extremes in our environment  and have been using them for years without issue.
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by:Craig Beck
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Proxim have always been bad :-)
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by:beatified
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Craig do you have any experience with the ubiquiti ac ap? That is the direction I was thinking of going. But I'm a little skeptical.
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by:Craig Beck
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Yes I do.  I've used them where people wanted the features but without the high price-tag.  They are solid and extremely reliable and come with most (if not all) of the features that the likes of Cisco have, for example.

I'd recommend them every day.
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by:beatified
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Thanks craig, one our biggest problems with cisco wap371 was range. Is this a problem with  the ubiquiti? One other nice feature I have heard of with ubiquiti is zero handoff. Do you know if there ac ap is capable and compatible with this feature?
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by:Aaron Tomosky
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ubiquity are great on a budget, not super high density. Better to buy more of them for dense environments. If you need something with more smart handoff features and density performance look at meraki, aerohive, rukus, xirrus, etc... These are smart enough to push users to nearby access points with less users whereas the unifi and other lower end brands don't really communicate with each other, users will grab whatever has the strongest signal.
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by:beatified
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Thanks Aaron for your input. But I know for a fact that some ubiquiti ap's are capable of zero handoff I have just that ubiquiti's ac ap fails to deliver this feature. That is why I asked craig about this feature to either verify my information about zero handoff or disprove it. The other option is that firmware will fix this later. I am happy with ubiquiti's claimed features but I just want to make sure they deliver as cisco with their  wap371 absolutely failed to do.
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by:Craig Beck
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I'm not a fan of Zero-Handoff.  It works the same way as other vendors' implementations (such as Meru) so suffers from the same drawbacks.  They say (Ubiquiti) that it makes roaming truly seamless, and that's correct, but it's a trade-off between completely 100% seamless roaming and co-channel interference (which causes you problems).  In my experience you just don't need it if you use a controller-based solution as clients don't need to fully re-authenticate and re-associate in order to roam.  As well as that, all UniFi APs support standards-based roaming so you have some level of control from the client-side as well as the controller/AP-side.  

Basically, Zero-Handoff means that each AP uses the same wireless channel - totally against all of the RF principles that we're taught when learning how to design and deploy wireless LANs.  That means that clients see one 'virtual' AP across the entire Zero-Handoff deployment.  This means all of your APs have to be on the same layer-2 segment and also means that you can't deploy a lot of APs in a dense fashion.  Not great.
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by:beatified
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Thanks for that info craig. Sounds like zero handoff may not be worth it if the ap's need to exist on the same channels.
One last thing how is the range per ap. I know denser deployments are better but is a single ap ok for use in say a 40 foot by 40 foot space on a single floor. What we are finding is that cisco's wap371 won't even connect with one wall between 20 feet away which is unusable for us. We would need 2 times the number of ap's than we had when we were using Linksys e3000 routers with dd-wrt as ap's. How do these do for ccoverage?
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by:gheist
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40x40ft I would guess problem is interference from surrounding APs - check with inssider software on a laptop....
Cisco has somewhat clumsy automatic channel selection.
Also remember zero handoff and other easy roaming is vendor-specific extension, so it needs support in client drivers for same exact protocol. Also it sucks phone battery empty if too many APs overlap on the spot.
We just retired 10 cisco wireless-G APs for 8 wireless-ABGN tplink with openwrt. Neither had problems covering 80x80mtr facility with 2 floors, just mind the channel selection in dense corners for 2.4GHz.
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by:Craig Beck
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gheist is right - Cisco standalone APs don't pick channels too well if the area is crowded with RF and will often just go to channel 1 if all channels are even the slightest bit busy.
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by:gheist
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It has somewhat flawed channel selection method, it does not seem to know that 1 wifi channel occupies 5 channels and the next onw should be far enough apart. Thats why I suggest to manually check on them with wifi survey tool...
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by:beatified
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Purchased a Ubiquiti and as far as I can tell all my problems went away. Far superior product. Speed is better range is better on both 5 and 2.4 ghz although I dont like the fact that you have to install a program to configure it. Beyond that I am very happy with the Ubiquiti Unifi UAP-AC.
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by:gheist
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It has telnet too, and if their firmware starts to smell you can install openwrt...
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by:beatified
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Thats something to keep in mind. I like the openwrt option as well. thanks for that info very good to know. I'm always a fan of open source options.
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by:gheist
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Thir firmware is full-featured. Unless you want unorthodox uses of it like streaming server or asterix PBX, you dont need openwrt...
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by:beatified
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Ok good to know.
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by:beatified
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Does it support a Web guide or is it all telnet?
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by:gheist
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It is only SSH. If you have 10 APs it is better than web... (you dont use web then actually...)
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by:beatified
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Ok cool because I am likely going to do a much bigger install in another location this install was at my work and was a trial. But good to know SSH is a better option on larger deployments.
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by:gheist
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If you say need to change radio config you just mash together script and let it roll through list of your APs.
Fixed password is bad, use SSH public keys... At least try know to back up configuration that way...
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