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Best mesh approach for a small church facility?

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Richard Chalk

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I am trying to find the best approach for upgrading our church WiFi. The space is divided between a 3800 sq-ft social hall, a small classroom building, and the church itself. Right now I have a main router at the office, and a couple of older routers set up as access points in the other two locations. The separation between the office and the church is a parking lot, and this span is covered by TP-LINK wireless outdoor units, so effectively we have wired connections between the locations.

The problem with this approach is that we have three different SSID, so moving from one to another causes disconnects of things like WiFi Calling. I would like to replace with mesh-connected access points - probably 4 to include the large social hall, and have the transparent handoff advantage of a mesh network.

At home, I tried this with Asus RT-AC3100 type routers in mesh mode, and found that phone calls were usually dropped when moving from one to another. The TP-LINK Deco systems don't drop calls, but seem to be a little difficult to mount in a permanent installation, and don't have POE, which might be an installation issue as well. Can anyone suggest a manufacturer and equipment that is not too expensive, but might be a good solution? I appreciate any help that might be available. Thanks
 
Last edited:
Just re-config:


This works best if all the routers/wireless are all the same generation - and if you're mixing b/g/n/ac/ax radios from a variety of manufacturers under the same roof you'll likely have issues.

ubiquiti makes good stuff...the UDM and a bunch of their APs will do you well if there's money to be spent. (my first expenditure would be to wire the buildings together though: while that wireless link is convenient, I don't trust them. Fibre optic is the way to go due to the differing ground potentials as the buildings sound like they're far enough apart to have that as a significant issue...)

You probably don't need WiFi6. WiFi5 (Wireless AC) should be adequate for some time yet...when deciding on this, you have to have a hard look at network traffic and ISP package speed and match the two to the hardware.
 
Just re-config:


This works best if all the routers/wireless are all the same generation - and if you're mixing b/g/n/ac/ax radios from a variety of manufacturers under the same roof you'll likely have issues.

ubiquiti makes good stuff...the UDM and a bunch of their APs will do you well if there's money to be spent. (my first expenditure would be to wire the buildings together though: while that wireless link is convenient, I don't trust them. Fibre optic is the way to go due to the differing ground potentials as the buildings sound like they're far enough apart to have that as a significant issue...)

You probably don't need WiFi6. WiFi5 (Wireless AC) should be adequate for some time yet...when deciding on this, you have to have a hard look at network traffic and ISP package speed and match the two to the hardware.
Thank you for your reply and advice. I have read the article you referenced, and I understand what it says. However, it explicitly states that there will be a loss of connectivity momentarily when the STA changes from one AP to another, and that would definitely cause a WiFi-based phone call to drop.

I will have a look at Ubiquiti. I have used their outdoor stuff in the past, and while a little complex to set up, it was very effective.

Wiring the connection from the office to the church is not practical, since there is a paved span of several hundred feet between them. However, the wireless link has been very stable, even for streaming video and VOIP phone use, so we will have to stick with that. Thanks again for your help
 
I will have a look at Ubiquiti

Ubiquiti UniFi and TP-Link Omada are the lower cost options and both work better than home "mesh" solutions plus you get options for VLAN network segmentation, centralized and remote management, network statistics, roaming technologies, different Guest Network login options, etc. Don't waste your time with consumer products. Business APs also can support about 200 clients per AP. Quality indoor/outdoor AP options available from both.
 
Can anyone suggest a manufacturer and equipment that is not too expensive, but might be a good solution?

- ER605 or ER7206 router
- TL-SG1008MP or TL-SG108P switch
- OC200 controller
- EAP225 V3 access points

You don't need AX-class APs. EAP225 V3 is good enough with wireless mesh options.

This is what you get (online demo):


Similar to UniFi system.
 
- ER605 or ER7206 router
- TL-SG1008MP or TL-SG108P switch
- OC200 controller
- EAP225 V3 access points

You don't need AX-class APs. EAP225 V3 is good enough with wireless mesh options.

This is what you get (online demo):


Similar to UniFi system.
Noob question here but looking for something to extend wifi to our outdoor kitchen area which is wired with 2 ethernet drops. Running a RT-AX88U as my main router but wondering if I could use these TP-Links above to extend to the patio instead?

Thanks in advance.
 
Yes.

You can run them as 'dumb' APs.

If you use AiMesh capable routers though, you can also get the benefits of extending Guest Network 1 (from each band) to the kitchen area too.
 
Yes.

You can run them as 'dumb' APs.

If you use AiMesh capable routers though, you can also get the benefits of extending Guest Network 1 (from each band) to the kitchen area too.
Thank you for the response. I tried the AX-1800 extender but it did not work very well. Is there another option besides another router? I liked the idea of these TP's due to the low profile look they have.
 
I've never seen an extender/repeater worth any amount of money in the long run.

The RT-AX68U is what I would be looking at (or higher).
 
I agree with tech9. Sounds like you need commercial gear, not consumer grade gear. So what is your budget?
 
Commercial gear for two users and some IoTs?

Not likely.
 
Commercial gear for two users and some IoTs?

Not likely.
At a minimum, he's going to need professional installation due to his requirements. He's trying to wirelessly connect Internet between two buildings across a parking lot. There are commercial solutions for this problem. Consumer solutions aren't all that great.

I found this one:


and this one:


What's your consumer solution for seamlessly connecting between APs across a parking lot with the square footage being discussed?
 
At a minimum, he's going to need professional installation due to his requirements. He's trying to wirelessly connect Internet between two buildings across a parking lot. There are commercial solutions for this problem. Consumer solutions aren't all that great.

I found this one:


and this one:


What's your consumer solution for seamlessly connecting between APs across a parking lot with the square footage being discussed?
Keep in mind that I have cat cabling running from my main router in the house to the pool/patio across the yard. There is the ability to to plug any type of hardware into that drop to get a hardwire connection to the main router.
 
As I said, no commercial equipment is needed.

No expensive commercial services either.

As I already suggested, an RT-AX68U or higher is all that is needed here for @chrismsales.
 
However, it explicitly states that there will be a loss of connectivity momentarily when the STA changes from one AP to another, and that would definitely cause a WiFi-based phone call to drop.

I wrote that article some years back, and it's still valid today.

Moving from one AP to the next with common SSID, this is very lightweight, and it happens quite quickly - I use WiFi calling all the time, and it's fast enough that the call doesn't drop.

When an SSID changes - the client has to assume that the network itself changes, so it has to do all the work needed - even down to the DHCP request/response, and that takes time.

There is a reason why most mesh setups use common SSID approaches, and this is one of them.

(in corp/enterprise WLAN's, it's the same thing, keep the SSID the same, and users will be happy)
 

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