Best stable range- wireless (n) router and/or access points?

By thegilster ·
Anyone out there have any real-world experience squeezing max stable range from n routers? I have a client for whom I am putting his disparate nodes on a wireless LAN. There are offices and shops scattered around approximately 5 acres.

The only pipe available is satellite (expensive) so we have to be as efficient as possible in how we put these outlying nodes on the network. One building in particular is down a hillside (below) and about 500 feet from the building where the satellite receiver is now located.

I was trying to do this inexpensively and have not done a site (radio) survey.

I could solve the problems by putting a 60 degree radio up on a pole and angle it down into this little valley- still won't have very good LOS to a couple of the outbuildings and will probably need an additional access point.

But.... that is over-kill for what this client needs.

Anyhow, since I don't have a lot of personal experience with the n protocol, I was hoping someone out there could help me from their own experience. I know the specs and how n works- mutipath beamforming and better modulation and channelization than the b and g. What I need is some help deciding if I am realistic in trying to use an n wireless router to reach these out buildings.

What models worked well(or not). How did it actually work through trees? Range? Throughput?

Any advice would be appreciated.



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by robo_dev In reply to Best stable range- wirele ...

If you want enterprise-grade stuff that's rock solid, Cisco gear would be the best bet. (No I don't work for them).

If your Internet bandwidth is only a megabit or two over Satellite, you might consider just using 802.11b, as you could easily hit 2-3MBS over the whole site, and this would be cheap to do.

I have not worked with using N for any distances, but B or G could work just fine for what you are considering.

A 500-foot shot is pretty easy, and you probably need less antenna gain than you think. Trees are your biggest concern, as is type of building construction (e.g. wood versus steel).

Call this a cop-out, but I would say the answer is 'it depends' on your site. Get a couple of units and do some site surveying....

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by oldbaritone In reply to Best stable range- wirele ...

It sounds like this is all on a single campus, owned by the customer.

It's not "cheap" but it's relatively inexpensive to run fiber, and media converters from 10-baseT or 100-baseT to fiber are inexpensive and readily available. The fiber can be run overhead, or buried - we rented a walk-behind ditch-witch and put it all in the ground. Since it was all private property, it wasn't difficult to get the permits; sometimes they weren't needed at all.

Fiber offers major advantages over copper when linking buildings. Two major ones are EMI (lightning) and ground loops. There's no issue with surge protection on fiber - it's non-conductive. And when you link two buildings together with copper, there is often a problem with electrical ground. Again, it's not an issue with fiber because it's non-conductive.

Another one is distance (range) - depending on the type of fiber, the limit can be measured in miles or kilometers, rather than feet.

I've tried linking buildings with a pair of AP's, and succeeded several times. Then comes a storm or a power glitch, and another "right-now!!!" service call to get it back up.

With fiber and media converters, I've just plugged them in and walked away. They just seem to keep working, for many years.

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Have done it both ways.

by robo_dev In reply to Fiber

Good points. Fiber is less expensive than people think, although sometimes the cost sneaks up a bit when you need to buy media-convertors, GBICs, etc.

For Wireless LANs, like anything, you get what you pay for. Sometimes people try to deploy cheap consumer-grade wireless stuff where they need more reliability and fault tolerance.

And the installation must be done right...power protection, redundancy, grounding, etc.

I admit I am a big Cisco fan. They allow you to run dual access points with automatic failover, perform packet capture right in the box, and many units even have a RADIUS server built right in.

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Well in larger installations

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Best stable range- wirele ...

I have solved these problems by using external Antennas that where specifically selected for their Propagation qualities.

So I've used Directional Antenna's to beam a signal into/out a "Difficult" area and just a General Purpose Yangi's for all round coverage.

However I have to agree with a post above Fiber is defiantly the better option it's far more secure and lots more reliable particularly in Bad Weather Conditions. Not all that expensive either these days also.

I've had way too many call outs to reset the WiFi Access Points after Thunder Storms and while it can happen with the Data Converters used in conjunction with Fiber it's just not as common.

But here I would say It All Depends on how well the Electrical Services are installed and what type of Voltage Drop the outlying buildings are experiencing. The more Voltage Drop the more problems you are going to have with any equipment that you locate in these buildings.

I'm not sure about the reference to the Satellite as that's a Net Connection you are surely talking about a LAN for this site and are not planning on multiple Satellite Connections are you? It would be way cheaper to have the one UpLink with all the buildings involved being on a LAN and then connecting as required tot he UpLink. Though with Satellite speed that may not be fast enough for all the users if they need lots of bandwidth.


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