Looking for best Wireless Access Point in a high-traffic area

My biggest client is in downtown Denver in an area of high wifi traffic. (If I run one of my WiFi diagnostic tools, I'll see 20 to 30 visible access points at any given time.)

I'm looking for wireless access points that are fast, reliable, and handle areas of high WiFi traffic. I'm looking for recommendations. I'm also looking for some type of "Consumer Report" style analysis of the wireless units that are currently for sale.

We're running Comcast business broadband. It's rated at 100 Mb/s. It consistently delivers 50 to 70 Mb/s. Users connected to the LAN/WAN via Ethernet never complain about internet speeds.
We currently are using UNIFI access points. We've optimized them to the nth degree, and we're now pulling an average of 21 Mb/s (up from 11 Mb/s).
Our business-class switches, are, candidly old, they all run at 100 Mb/s.
I've replaced a couple a couple of UNIFIs with UNIFI long-range units, in an effort to simply out-muscle the competition, and we definitely have seen better speeds from long-range units.
While we're doing better, we still see som bad speeds in the most WiFi-congested locations in the office and the slowest time of day (in the 1 to 2 Mb/s range).
The boss wants raw speed, and he's willing to spend money on it.
Who is Participating?

[Product update] Infrastructure Analysis Tool is now available with Business Accounts.Learn More

I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Darrell PorterEnterprise Business Process ArchitectCommented:
Define "...the boss is willing to spend money on it..."
I would recommend 802.11N 5 GHz technology.  I really only recommend Cisco APs managed by a controller because my experience with other providers, including Meraki, is that these other brands are filled with peril, regrets, and lack of support.  Cisco is the battleship when it comes to controller-based APs and they have a proven, bullet-proof track record.  Make certain you purchase the appropriate SmartNet contract with them - 8X5XNBD response is usually adequate.

I would recommend layer 3 1Gb network switches - Cisco SG500s and not SG300s nor SG200s.

I would recommend a business class firewall that can achieve line-speed throughput.  Cisco ASA, Fortinet, etc.

Depending upon the building, and whether the floors are multi-tenant or single-tenant for your client/boss, I imagine most of the foreign networks have very low signal strength.

I would highly recommend having a wireless survey performed by someone who actually knows what they're doing, using a wireless spectrum analyzer.  If they don't have a spectrum analyzer, they aren't really performing a wireless survey, just a wireless network inventory.  The wireless survey will tell you if there are non-network-related devices sending out signals which could interfere with your installation - think baby monitors, wireless analog telephones, 2-way radios, etc.

Analyzers vary in cost from less than $100 to well over $75,000.  Personally, I like the units from MetaGeek as they are easy to use and the learning curve is quite easy.

Your mileage may vary.
"we still see som bad speeds in the most WiFi-congested locations"

Wifi bandwidth is shared. If you have lots of devices using the same AP then it's going to cause congestion. Unfortunately wifi doesn't handle congestion as well as we'd like to think it does. There are also issues where particularly with older AP's the speed of the AP/cell will drop back to the slowest device connected. This can mean that if you have a device that is only doing 802.11b at a lower speed it could be causing issues for everyone.

Newer AP's will often have two (or more) radio's on different frequencies so that the older devices can keep using 802.11b (if they really need to), whilst the newer gear can connect using a/g/n/ac and take advantage of higher speeds.

No problems with Cisco, you could also look at the Ubiquiti Enterprise Wifi range of gear. It's pretty nice.

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
Dirk MareSystems Engineer (Acting IT Manager)Commented:
Ruckus Zoneflex Wireless AP  the Zoneflex 7982 or Ruckus R700 you will also need System Management with the Ruckus

Ruckus Youtube Channel with nice videos explaining the technology

jdanaAuthor Commented:
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Wireless Hardware

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.