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Am I on the right track?

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Hi, great forum with lots of good information here!

I'm in the process of trying to update an existing wireless setup for a fairly large building. It is an Inn with 6 floors and over 100 rooms. Currently the network consists of a (poor) DSL connection to the Internet using a Westhall modem, a Dell True Moble Router and 8 Netgear WG302 access points. The access points are all running on channel 11 and have a fair amount of overlap. They are also poorly placed in general.

Since this is a Inn, the sole purpose of the wireless network is to get to the Internet. It is also currently unsecured, although we may look into changing that as we go. I'm looking into better Internet service offerings to deal with that part of the problem but would like some feedback on my proposed hardware selections. I'm trying to use all commercial grade equipment. I'm also trying to stick with one equipment vendor to reduce the learning curve for others that might have to work with it.

Currently I'm proposing to add an additional 8 WG302 access points and to do a better job of spacing them, in addition to using channels 1, 6 and 11 to provide some seperation. I would be using a number of 10/100 switches to provide wired connections to the access points. I should have no problem running Ethernet cables in hallway ceilings but hope to be able to get power to those locations, if not then I might need to use PoE, but that would raise the cost of the required switches.

I would also like to replace the Dell router with a Netgear FVS336G, possibly using dual WAN ports to provide Internet connection. This is overkill as we have no use for the VPN and tunneling capabilities, but I did not see another commercial grade router offering (well at least from Netgear).

Probably a collection of FS116 and FS105 switches to connect it all together.

My rational behind these selections is as follows:
- G versus N, our Internet connection will be the limiting factor, N really does not buy us anything, not to mention we already have 8 G access points. Same for 100MB versus 1GB.
- Access Points versus Repeaters, better performance and I can deal with the wiring
- WG302's, already have 8 of them - making them all the same makes things easier and if we want to lock things down in the future these have sufficient capabilities.
- FVS336G - Just because I did not see a better choice and should provide plenty of performance.

Fairly big project for someone that does not have a network design background, however I am a software engineer who has spent the last 25 years designing an building networking equipment from two port orange cable bridges (remember those) to routers, to class 5 phone switches.

Any comments on this approach or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Generally, you are on the right track. I suggest a site survey to first see where your weak signal areas are. You might be able to improve coverage by just relocating APs. Setting adjacent APs to different channels (1, 6, 11) will also keep them for fighting for bandwidth.

Since the WG302's already support PoE, you have that flexibility. If you don't want to go for a PoE switch, you can always selectively use PoE injectors.

You didn't say, however, the primary problem you are trying to solve. Is it coverage, overall capacity or individual connection speed?

I know you'd rather stick with an all NETGEAR setup. But you might look at the Cisco RV042 as a dual-WAN router.
I have done a site survey (using Ekahau Heat Mapper, great tool for free) and MetaGeek inSSIDer. Also was able to borrow a RF signal analyzer (Agilent FieldFox) to scan for sources of interference.

You are correct that I might be able to get by with fewer AP's, I'm trying to plan for the worst and hope for better. The building has concrete floor/ceilings and metal studs in the walls so it can make for poor coverage. I won't know the real number of AP's until I start moving some around and seeing how it affects coverage.

I'm trying to address a number of things (hopefully one at a time), the first would be wireless coverage. Next would be dealing with a large number for concurrent users, hence the desire to have something that deals with high concurrency and can recycle DHCP quickly. Finally is on service provider offerings, basically paying for a better service!

Thanks for the advice on the Cisco Router, I'm not married to the "All Netgear" solution, just trying to keep things simple.

So looking at the RV042 it looks like it supports only 72 concurrent connections, while that would probably be sufficient it may be cutting it close. With 200 for the FVS336G I can be fairly certain that I won't run into any issues there.

I suspect that we are moslty looking at many low bandwidth connections (mostly email and web).

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