Wifi Access Point buying advice please

dpkblue

New Around Here
Dear all
I am seeking some advice on what wifi access point to buy for my home/office. My network design and user profile given below. I have short listed Ubiquiti access point wifi 6 lite which retails at £80. Is this suitable or does anyone have an alternative suggestion? Thank you all for reading & your help is much appreciated.

3 Users in house
- Approx. 40 devices i.e. iphones, laptops, printer, phones,
- heavy streaming of movies & entertainment (we have no terrestrial tv)
- 5 bedroom house + living


Network design
- Netgear GS316 network switch 16 port
- Cat6 hardwire to all rooms + landing ceiling above stairs

Location of wifi access point
- Landing ceiling above stairs


Shortlist
- Ubiquiti access point wifi 6 lite (SKU U6-Lite)
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
Search for posts by @Trip. He usually has good advice on questions like yours.
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
@dpkblue - Welcome. Not sure how much you know about business-grade wifi and purpose-built APs versus consumer equivalents, but in general the main caveat to keep in mind is that APs tend to have lower output power, with the U6-Lite being no exception (a fairly low 200-220 mW, per the FCC), which means noticeably less effective range than what you may be used to with consumer-grade routers. This will generally mean you'll need a tighter density of APs across your home versus consumer routers, roughly by a factor of how much lower-power the APs are. And FYI, "low power" isn't necessarily a bad thing; in fact, multiple APs placed appropriately, with one or more locations that you'd otherwise have with "higher power" APs/routers, usually results in more simultaneous performance.

As for specific products, UniFi is certainly one option. TP-Link Omada is another slightly cheaper alternative. Both are discrete wireless controller systems, which means they rely on standalone controller software for certain group functionality and configuration. Presuming you want/need two or more APs, a simpler and often more reliable alternative would be an embedded controller product, which integrates the controller code into the AP firmware, forgoing the extra point of complexity (and possible failure). Examples of embedded-controller products would be Cisco CBW, Aruba Instant On or Ruckus Unleashed. All of that said, any one of the products mentioned, be it discrete or embedded, should do well enough for your home.

To recap, the most important thing to focus on is specifying enough APs and the right layout. If I had to guess, with 40-50 devices, 3 users and a 5-bedroom home, two or three U6-Lite's (or similar peer, example: Cisco CBW140AC) would handle your needs very well.

Hope that helps! Any questions, feel free.

EDITS: Language cleanup.
 
Last edited:

beneix

New Around Here
Thanks @Trip for the info. I am wondering whether you get more for your money by buying consumer routers and installing something like DD-WRT on them - then you can control things like transmit power yourself. I think consumer routers are generally cheaper than access points, right?

Are there any of the DD-WRT/OpenWRT etc distributions that support controlling several routers (as APs) so that you get something similar to UniFi?
 

unmesh

Regular Contributor
@Trip

I now have two R600s running Unleashed and noticed that our iPhones will switch to the cellular network instead of roaming between the APs but will reconnect fine if WiFi is turned off and then back on on the iPhones. Any idea whether there is a known quirk using this combination of client and AP?

(Didn't have this issue with the Omadas)

Thanks
 

degrub

Part of the Furniture
maybe the phone is trying to hold onto the original AP signal and not dropping it to find a new AP , and instead seeing the cell signal as the strongest ? Client device determines the roaming, not the AP.
Check your wifi overlap and power levels in the areas you expect it to switch APs.
 

unmesh

Regular Contributor
Makes sense but I'm in a fringe area for AT&T and never get more than 1 bar. Is there a way to compare cell and wifi signal strengths?
 

degrub

Part of the Furniture
what generation iphones ?
are you using wifi calling on the phone ?
Is the cell service 3G or 4G LTE ?
what happens if you turn off cell data in the phone ?

do you have an ipad available ?
download the Airport Utility from the store. open it. in the upper right corner select WiFi scan. run it for 15-20 seconds in various spots around the house where you have AP switching issues and get the signal power levels for the SSID the phone is using.
if i remember correctly, the phone should try to switch starting at about -65 dB, maybe -67 dB.
You may have to lower the power level on one of the APs.
It may help if you only use 5 GHz band and can turn the 2.4 GHz bands off. You might have to add an AP.

There are also other utilities you can run on a laptop that will give you the same thing possibly with a graphic instead of just text.
to see cell signals, you need different equipment.
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
@unmesh - There a whole lot of variables at play here, so on the surface level it's hard to say whether it's your topology, configuration, environment or device(s) causing the bulk of the issue. Anecdotally, I do have multiple sites with R600's and various gen iPotato's roaming just fine.

As far as what to do, presuming your AP placement and power output is engineered well enough to provide at least -75 dBm of signal to your entire coverage area, you may want to look at tweaking your SmartRoam settings in Unleashed, per the principles in the following Ruckus KB article on Smart-Roam sticky client control. In a nutshell, you'll want to SSH into your Master AP and using the Unleashed CLI, adjust the Smart-Roam factor to a more aggressive setting, which will ultimately end up "telling" the iOS devices to roam at higher levels of signal, thus hopefully causing them to do just that (before failing over to 3G/LTE).

TL;DR - One main side point on "comparing" 3G/LTE and wifi signal: mobile broadband produces equivalent signal usability at much lower attenuation than wifi (example: -120dBm), so just comparing attenuation numbers based on absolute values will be misleading. You have to factor in actually usability per unit signal. However, the entire exercise in the context of your problem is likely a waste of time, and you're likely better off focusing on providing higher-quality wifi with better tuning of roaming protocols.
 

unmesh

Regular Contributor
I set it to its default roam-factor by using the smart-roam command. I'm not sure what the default is but will try various settings in the next few days.

Thanks
 

Similar threads

Sign Up For SNBForums Daily Digest

Get an update of what's new every day delivered to your mailbox. Sign up here!
Top