Networking a school

Posted on 2016-07-28
Last Modified: 2016-07-29
Good afternoon all, I was wondering if I could get some advice on networking a school.

What we are looking to do is to place about a dozen Ruckus R500 access points throughout.

The first question I have is about firewalls. I mean the actual building firewall to try and prevent fires from spreading. What kind of consideration should I be concerned about?  I am going to have to try and penetrate the firewall so I can run a cable from the classroom that has the internet connection to the access point which will be hanging in the hallway.

My second concern is about naming the individual networks (SSID).  Should I make them all the same or different?

Please let me know if this is not the forum for this type of question.
Question by:classnet
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LVL 57

Accepted Solution

giltjr earned 167 total points
ID: 41733666
You need to check with local building codes before you start drilling through firewalls.  Normally there are very specific requirements.  There could also be codes for wiring, such as it must be in specific type of conduit or the cable must be plenum rated.

--> "My second concern is about naming the individual networks (SSID).  Should I make them all the same or different?"

I'm not sure what you mean here.  What do you mean by "network"?  An IP subnet?  Are you planning to have unqiue IP subnets?

Typically all access points should use the same SSID and "password" so that you can roam from access point to access point.  If you want to create unique IP networks to provide restricted network access, then you want unique SSID's per IP network.  You could have a student, teacher, and guest SSID's and IP networks.  Then at the IP level you can restrict or allow access as needed.  You could throttle Internet bandwidth (assuming you have Internet access) by subnet so that the students don't use it all up and teachers can't do anything.  Then if you are required to provided guests access, you can.
LVL 16

Assisted Solution

by:Brian Pringle
Brian Pringle earned 166 total points
ID: 41733683
For the price of the Ruckus units, I would suggest looking at wireless mesh devices.  These are simply plug-and-play and will automatically build a mesh network without the need for backbone cabling.  

Firetide makes a wireless mesh backbone, but you need to attach an AP to it.  So, basically, you need power wherever you want to put one of these units and then plug it into the power outlet and plug an AP into it.

Have you considered using the Ubiquiti APs instead of the Ruckus?  They are significantly cheaper and have a software management console.

We wired our entire college -- 27 buildings and 3 campuses -- with these:  They do need to be wired, but will automatically build the network from the settings on a single computer.  They all get joined to the network and you can control them centrally.  I would suggest purchasing a PoE injector, as they come with individual injectors.  They do not use standard voltage, so you need to find one that matches their voltage requirements.  These are the ones that we purchased:
LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Brian Pringle
ID: 41733687
Forgot to mention... the Ubiquiti software allows you to setup numerous SSIDs and you can then setup throttling, IP settings, DNS settings, and etc. based on the SSID.  We created a network for employees and another one for students.  Students are limited to 128 Kbps so that they cannot use it for streaming videos.
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LVL 18

Assisted Solution

Akinsd earned 167 total points
ID: 41733691
I agree with the firewall drilling.

For SSID, that depends on levels of access and if you plan to tie it to existing subnets

You definitely need 2 at the least, for guests (internet only) and school. You can break this further to guests, staff and students.
This wouldn't be what we can determine for you, the key however is what resources are available to wifi users  and how you provision that access.

Author Comment

ID: 41733838
Thank you everyone.  Brian... they already purchased the Ruckus APs.

As far as the SSIDs are concerned I wasn't talking about segregating the networks.

Let me explain how Wi-Fi was explained to me:

In a cellular network the intelligence resides in the cell towers. The cell towers detect where you are and when you get on their borders they hand you off to the next cell tower so that you don't lose any communication (in theory).

With Wi-Fi it is the exact opposite. The intelligence is in the device (laptop, etc). And when the signal gets weak enough the device will look for and jump to another Wi-Fi device.  So, you may be physically closer to an AP but still hanging on to another AP because the signal is not weak enough for the device to go looking for another.

This make sense?
LVL 57

Expert Comment

ID: 41734099
If you have a lot of independent AP's it will work that way.  However if you were to have a  meshed network, that is AP that are linked together and controlled by a central controller, you can configure the AP to drop a connection when the signal is week and force the device to look for a new AP.

Again the problem with multiple SSID's is that device needs to have them all configured and setup.  So if you have 10 SSID's everybody needs to configure 10 connections.  With a single SSID and a meshed network they configure 1 connection.
LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 41734183
My second concern is about naming the individual networks (SSID).  Should I make them all the same or different?

If I understand you correctly, you are thinking of getting multiple autonomous APs (similar to home Wifi routers) and asking if you can configure each one with the same SSID so the same SSID is available throughout the school.
Well, wifi network doesn't work that way.
You will need a Wireless controller and a couple of Access Points in lightweight mode joined to the controller. Your SSID is created on the controller and propagated through the APs.

You will need a Heat Map to determine strategic placements of your AP. A good practice is to allow 20% overlap.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 41734272
I want to thank everyone for their help...

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