WiFi. It’s everywhere and we get upset when it doesn’t work. That’s why it’s important to have the proper equipment, setup correctly to ensure it will work when you want it.
Recently I had a customer approach me who was having trouble with their WiFi installation. It was obvious the party responsible for the installation didn’t have a plan and just kept throwing old, home based hardware at the problem hoping it would fix it. First off, using home grade routers in a commercial environment is the wrong thing to do. Plus the fact that they were 10-15 years old doesn’t help. This is where I came in.
I was tasked to come up with a plan of action and to see it through. Their main building is approximately 16,000 square feet, spread across 3 levels, with a shop about 500 feet away. The previous installation was made up of 7 home based wireless routers, all flashed with DD-WRT. Now don’t get me wrong, I love DD-WRT and what it’s done for the hacking community, however, that belongs at home, not in a commercial environment.
Now the first thing I needed to do was come up with a plan, find out usage requirements and then put it into action. Overall things were fairly simple, they required two SSID’s, one for the guests and one for the staff. They want to be able to disconnect the guest network quickly and easily if the need should arise for any reason and to ensure everybody has fair usage. For this to work we need the proper gear, this is where Ubiquiti comes in. I drew up the site, got rough coverage areas and based on existing wiring decided we’re going to need 5 access points and a wireless back haul between the buildings. I decided to use the UniFi AP AC Lite. They offer plenty of options, lots of range, and are powered with POE (although not true 802.3af). In the closet we went with the UniFi Switch 8. It has 8 ports, all provide POE in either true 802.3af, or Ubiquiti’s 24 volt config that the AP’s require. For the backhaul I decided to use a pair of Ubiquity NanoStaion M2’s.
With some VLAN magic, color coded cables, cloud administration and high quality equipment I can say that we’ve met all the requirements laid out. We’ve got high throughput, remote administration, full coverage, easy disconnection of the guest network and expandability if it’s ever needed. Plus now there are more options for thing like a Captive Portal (requiring guest login), terms of service, custom logos on the landing page, Facebook and Google integration and more.
Overall it has been a large improvement, where originally the guests would constantly be asking which SSID to use and what the password is, now it’s very simple, and the questions have pretty much stopped.