When installing multiple WAPs (in a hotel, for example), are all the access points supposed to use the same SSID, channel and encryption/key/passphrase? Is that the recommended method?
Do they have to use a central DHCP server or can they each be configured to use a different range?
Any other differentiations?
99.999% of the time, all AP's should have the same SSID. HOWEVER, a hotel can be an exception if that is what you are doing. You said "hotel for example", so I'm not sure if that is your specific need.
If so, post back and I'll give you a quick rundown of the configurations of a hotel Wi-Fi system.
Currently it's for a hotel, but I have a condo too. I would prefer to use the same SSID. What about the channel, key and DHCP?
Also, there is another private WiFi for the hotel staff. I put that on another channel with a different SSID. I tried to separate the channels as much as possible (#1 and #11, I think?)
Currently the hotel's single public WAP keeps changing between strong and weak (drops) every hour or 2. If they power cycle it, it is okay for 20-60 minutes, but it's frustrating everyone. I have tried 2 different WAPs (Nanostation and Linksys) and it does the same thing... The private WAP seems okay.
What do you think?
You are essentially asking how to design a Wi-Fi network in one post. :)
- Only use channels 1, 6 and 11 and try to alternate these as best you can
- Don't use any Wi-Fi encryption or authentication. You won't be able to support your hotel users and they won't be able to configure it. This is normal procedure for hotels.
- If you have poor signal areas, add more AP's
- If you have too many people using a consumer grade AP, you may have to reboot it occasionally. If the budget allows, get better gear (I'll recommend some if you like)
- SSID - Most people will tell you to use the same SSID. Here is why I don't for some hotels. If you have inexpensive AP's, they will lock up sometimes. The problem is, if they do, they invariably still transmit, but won't work on the wire. So... the guest's laptop still sees the local AP and uses it. The guest won't be able to switch to another AP, because that is only done by SSID. So, with cheap equipment and no on site tech support, I recommend using a different SSID for every AP. That way, if AP1 goes down, they guest can connect to another SSID (AP) and still be up and running. If you have good equipment an / or good local tech support, a single SSID is acceptable.
Where are you located? Just curious as I travel quite a lot. Thanks!
Sorry about that! :-// Thanks for all the advice, GT!
I live in SW Florida (Naples/Fort Myers area) and haven't found too many tech heads to talk shop with - particularly about WiFi situations. I just found this forum yesterday and discovered the CWNP certifications and was thrilled.
My original post was just about some burning questions that I haven't been able to get answered by anyone. Basically, I have been told the SSIDs MUST be different (or else they will interfere with each other - apparently untrue) and I have been told the SSIDs MUST be the same so the user can wander around the mesh and stay connected automatically, so I wasn't sure. You gave great advice - thanks.
But then you opened the door (thanks!) about the hotel situation, so I thought I'd ask! :D
The hotel wants to employ WEP encryption because they are right on the beach and don't want everyone jumping on for free. They issue the SSID and WEP key to their clients.
They actually only have one public WAP and one private WAP for the office (they have 2 DSL routers), so I was asking about the shared SSIDs hypothetically in case I need to add more Public WAPs to increase coverage.
The real issue is the dropping signal on the public WAP. They had a NanoStation2 (ubnt.com) plugged directly into the DSL router and so I replaced it with a Linksys Wireless router thinking the problem was with the NanoStation2. But the Linksys is also dropping the signal many times per day. And I can't imagine they have more than 10 or 20 people (at most) a day trying to use it.
I have been using D-Link, Linksys, & Netgear consumer grade stuff. I have also used Hawking signal boosters and outdoor antennas and a little Cisco. What are some good commercial grade products?
When you say only use channels 1, 6 & 11, you mean for different networks, like the hotel's public and private networks, right? If I have 3 WAPs sharing a SSID, they should all be on the same channel, right?
If 'HighTechGeek' didn't seem sincere in his questions I'd be thinking this is a joke post! As it is, it's pretty much an advertisement for the CWNP training/certification program.
Thanks for all your input Gene on his issues.
To augment what you've said already...
I should have caught it right from the start when he called them WAPs...
- Each AP should be on a different Channel.
- Only use channels 1, 6, and 11.
- Try to keep each AP on the same channel as far away from the others on the same channel as possible.
- Even if they share and SSID they should not share a channel whenever possibile.
- Upgrade to non-consumer grade equipment as soon as possible.
- You could go with multiple SSIDs one each for each AP - like in a 'family' like WiFi1, WiFi2, WiFi3...
- Since you aren't allowing for roaming, multiple SSIDs would be fine
- Static WEP for your clients is also fine (yes I know WEP's issues but this is on SoHo equipment and less tech support for this poor guy)
- Turn each APs DHCP off so they are NOT giving out their own IP addresses, but it will be coming from your DSL connection from the ISP
Please, please get some training on how 802.11 works. I'll send you a copy of my 'Intro to WLAN' CBT if you PM me.
Do try to use commercial grade equipment in the future. Your problems are mostly centered on your choice of SoHo equipment issues.
You could take just a small step up and use Apple Access Points - about double the cost of SoHo cheap stuff, but far superior in uptime, hardware specs, etc.
A step up from there might be Ruckus, cheaper but made for what you're doing 'Meraki', or an entire series of 'semi-pro' equipment available from the 3-party re-distribution system.
Then finally up to the commercial grade Aruba, Cisco, Trapeze, Aerohive, etc.
Keith's post answers some of your questions, so I'll just address a few others.
I have implemented quite a few hotels and I can't stress enough; don't have guests configure anything, even WEP. If you have customers that want a secure WLAN, you can offer WPA Personal (Passphrase based security) as a second option (BTW, I still don't recommend this unless you have phone tech support).
To make it where no one else but guests can get on the network, you need a captive portal. I have used a Zyxel G-4100 for this reason. They are about $450. It has a neat system. When the guest checks in, you press a button on a little receipt printer and it prints their user name and password. When the guest connects and opens a browser, it will open up to a page that says "Welcome to the Beach Hotel". Please enter your user name and password for service.
As far as equipment goes, it's all about affordability. If you can afford it, I recommend 11n for hotels. It is quite amazing how much more range you can get out of them vs. 11a/g.
Hotels are mostly about coverage unless they get a lot of business customers, then you have to design for throughput.
I travel this great nation in a motor coach teaching and implementing Wi-Fi. I'm on the road for the next 4 weeks and unfortunately won't have time for a Florida detour.
Thanks a lot for the great questions. If you have any more, feel free to give us a shout. If you give us a budget to work within, we can recommend something in that budget. Even better, if you can tell us about the hotel itself (layout, construction materials etc) that would also be helpful.
Thank you both for the education!
I think I've solved the wireless dropping issue. Once onsite, I was able to check and it wasn't a wireless issue at all... it was the router.
Unfortunately, the budget they gave me was an unrealistic $150 for hardware. I told them that was why they are having so many problems so they asked me to submit a quote.
I think I might just get a Wireless N router and be done with it, although I thought it was still in draft and proprietary?... what do you think?
It will have to be a really small hotel for one 11n router to serve all of the rooms, but if I had to get one device, that would be it.
Any new 11n device you get now (don't get something old and used off of eBay if it is 11n) will be compatible with anything your guests will have.
The hotel only advertises WiFi in their lobby, so this should fit their "$150" budget.
But I'll come back in the near future and start a new post for help designing a system that will serve the entire hotel. Know any good study resources? :D