Wifi install - small London office

Posted on 2016-11-02
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-11-19
I've been tasked with getting a new wifi install for our office.  It would be for 2 networks, for use by visitors, and the other by presenters to us, not our staff.  The ground floor is fairly small (18m x 12m), with several meeting rooms, but probably needs 2 APs due to a lift shaft that would create "shadows" if just one was used.  I did look at a Cisco 3702 solution, but it was too expensive.  Is Ubiquiti a good, stable and cost-effective solution?

Bare minimum would be:
•      2 Access Points to cover ground floor, preferably dual-band, with both being active simultaneously.
•      Firewall for security
•      Controller to limit devices (probably still giving 2 SSIDs – one Guest which is totally locked down, other Presenter which is a bit more open).   I’d like a ticketing system, where we can give out time-limited access codes.

Budget is approx £5k for everything, and a solution that is easy to use and stable, rather than very feature-rich would be preferable.  Users will have a random range of devices that connect, probably with the majority being IOS.  

Internet line will be upgraded to a 20Mbps one from Andrews and Arnold as an ISP - www.aanet.co.uk .  Usage will be mostly typical surfing, some Skype, some streaming video, nothing heavy.  

We may expand it to other floors in the building over time.  I do a fair bit of tech, but am not a wireless or networking guy, so please bear with me if I'm a bit hard of thinking...
Question by:Danny Child
LVL 32

Accepted Solution

masnrock earned 2000 total points
ID: 41870147
The short answer to your question would be yes, Ubiquiti devices would work well for what you're seeking. The UniFi AP AC Lite would work, but I'd lean more towards the UniFi AP AC Pro so that you could connect them to a POE switch. The controller is software, so you could load it onto a workstation or a server (as long as it's on the same subnet). An inexpensive PC would do the trick, or you could look at the UniFi Cloud Key.

As an alternative, I'd say look at Ruckus. They will cost considerably more than Ubiquiti, but also overcome interference issues far better. Since you're in such a small space, explore the Unleashed APs. That way, the first AP you set up serves as the controller (and any additional APs you set up serve as backups). Their traditional model is a hardware AP and licensing that would drive up the cost big time. The unleashed program lets you have up to 25 APs and 512 wireless users.

Both brands make it not difficult to have guest networks, but I'd tell you Ubiquiti is easier. However, I'd recommend that you create VLANs on the network, with each wireless network using a different VLAN. I'm not sure if you have a network person you'll be working with, or if you're handling the entire project. In both scenarios, you won't have issues with equipment working with Apple devices.

Be sure to conduct a wireless survey around the space. In spite of what you've mentioned, you may find that you still only need one AP. I used WiFi Explorer on my Android phone to do the surveys.

In terms of a firewall, I'd say go with a Sonicwall. A TZ300 should more than suffice. Easy to use, lots of wizards.

Based on what you're describing, your budget is a nonissue, as it's more than enough. I'm assuming you're the most tech savvy employee at the company, and there is no IT staff.
LVL 19

Expert Comment

by:John Tsioumpris
ID: 41870175
5K seems a lot for me...sorry for covering an office....a quick search(very quick) got me something like this.
So you could get 2 of them for about for about 1/10 and try them...
Also i noticed that the above support central management
LVL 57

Expert Comment

by:Pete Long
ID: 41870478
Meraki - it's the future :)

And 1 AP will cover 27 thousand square feet?

And with all the money you save, you can get a nice coffee machine.

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Author Comment

by:Danny Child
ID: 41870547
That seems like good advice so far... I've got a Meraki MR18 AP that I got for free after watching an online webinar, I'll give that a go, and check the coverage from there.  Just wondering how it can bounce signals around a lift shaft!

I hadn't heard of Ruckus before today, so that's a good lead too.  I'll look into their cost model.

The building overall is 7 floors, but there's no management appetite to give wifi out to staff at the moment.  However, this will change in my opinion over the next few years, so I need to plan for it to be scalable.  I know the APs themselves can be cheap, but I think the firewall and controller side will eat up the cost.  

Our main network team are in our overseas head office, and are properly under the hammer with internal networking, so it's hard to get time with them.  I'll need them to sign off on what I come up with, but at the end of the day, it'll be me living with the solution, so I need it to work.
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 41870686
Different makers have their approaches with how the antennas are set up in their APs. Ruckus calls their technology BeamFlex. I redid a hotel that had older Cisco APs with Ruckus, and those guys couldn't be happier. They had a lot of interference challenges with networks of nearby buildings, as well as walls (it was an older building). Ubiquiti equipment is not nearly as good with interference issues. Cannot speak for Meraki, but those I know who use their equipment do love it.
LVL 23

Author Comment

by:Danny Child
ID: 41872186
Thanks, that's given me some really good info.  I'll look at some London-based installers for Ruckus and Meraki and see what prices they offer.  

My concern over the Apple devices above was that they tend to latch to one frequency regardless, and not switch even if better coverage on the other one.
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 41872208
Well, I would not recommend access points from Meru (part of Fortinet), as a number of their units still had issues with Apple devices as far as I can recall.  Last I recall, it's possible that they still have not fixed all of the issues. (All started with one of Apple's iOS updates)

I also would not recommend SonicPoint APs from Sonicwall either. You have to pay special attention to a few particular settings or else Apple devices won't work properly on them.

But then again, that's why these devices weren't mentioned in the first place....
LVL 23

Author Closing Comment

by:Danny Child
ID: 41894452
thorough answer, and kept returning to refine it.  Very helpful.

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