Tough networking challenges

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Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:41 pm

So - I'm helping out this startup K-12 school which is using old military buildings, made out of foot+ thick concrete walls and ceilings, both internally and externally. For real - these things are built like bunkers. They are literally the safest places to be in the even of a bomb going off. But here are the challenges:

* Wifi is unavailable in the buildings. So tablets, phones, teachers computers etc. Sadly, none of them work.
* Cell service is also out when inside the buildings.

So I know there are solutions out there for this sort of thing. The question is what? Before even asking about budget, I want to know what options are available / you guys have used, and then of course how to do it cost-effectively.

I'm definitely looking to improve cell reception and solve the wifi networking problem.

I've thought of repeaters in every room, etc. but that seems like a lot of effort and potentially cost, as well as issues with constant hand-offs as a person moves from room to room.

Thoughts?
Last edited by JdL on Sat Sep 21, 2013 10:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:20 pm

So the *internal* walls are 1'+ concrete? That's rough. I can't think of any obvious inexpensive solutions.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Fri Sep 20, 2013 9:36 pm

Antenna mounted in the ceiling of each room with a cable connecting it to an antenna on the roof. Depending on the strength of the local cell signal, you might not even have to have a signal booster in between, though that would certainly help (and make it expensive).

A wifi access point per room, or per pair of rooms if you can locate it in a centralized point and run a couple of coax lines to an antenna mount in each room. It's not cheap, but in the scheme of networking, not terribly expensive unless you go with tier-1 gear. What you would get with a tier-1 solution is the ability to manage it all a bit better. If you are trying to do it on the cheap, you can probably do wifi in each room for about $100 per room plus another $150-200 per 16 rooms, plus the cost of labor. This all assumes you can get cable run too.

No two ways about it, if the signal degradation is as bad as you say, you need antennas in every room.

--SS
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Fri Sep 20, 2013 9:50 pm

May I suggest a $50 drill bit??

http://www.zorotools.com/g/Extra%20Long ... /00062327/

They have 24" to 48" length bits in varying diameters.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:22 pm

zenlessyank wrote:May I suggest a $50 drill bit??

http://www.zorotools.com/g/Extra%20Long ... /00062327/

They have 24" to 48" length bits in varying diameters.

How does that help with the cell phone reception issue? He's not asking how to set up a wired network in this building; he's asking how to make wireless work for mobile devices.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:35 pm

just brew it! wrote:
zenlessyank wrote:May I suggest a $50 drill bit??

http://www.zorotools.com/g/Extra%20Long ... /00062327/

They have 24" to 48" length bits in varying diameters.

How does that help with the cell phone reception issue? He's not asking how to set up a wired network in this building; he's asking how to make wireless work for mobile devices.


* Wifi is unavailable in the buildings. So tablets, phones, teachers computers etc. Sadly, none of them work.

One step at a time there turbo, calm your jets. Plus it was a way to get your cables for your antennae. But, nevertheless, I was merely homing in on the "teachers computers etc" issue.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:37 pm

I'd go with a cheap trashy consumer router in each room for wifi access, the range and throughput sucks but you only need it for that room so whatever. Use good gear for the computer lab(s) obviously. You're gonna be drilling a lot of holes though, and it's probably rebar so bring a metal detector or something...

I wouldn't even bother with cellular access, not worth it. Besides most schools discourage cell use anyway.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:09 pm

Since it probably already has electricity run through the building, you may be able to use powerline networking modules.
dunno how pricey it may get but you wont have to drill holes!!!
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:21 pm

It won't help with the cell reception ( though I don't see anything in the OP asking for improved cellular service ), but at work we use Ubiquity nano stations in those sorts of buildings. They have enough power to get good coverage, even through thick stone / concrete walled buildings. They aren't too expensive. They are VERY durable, and they provide decent throughput.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Sat Sep 21, 2013 9:17 am

For cells take a look at something like http://www.wilsonelectronics.com/
For wifi if you go with proper business class wifi it will support http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inter-Acce ... t_Protocol so that devices will roam seamlessly from one AP to another.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Sat Sep 21, 2013 10:34 am

just brew it! wrote:So the *internal* walls are 1'+ concrete? That's rough. I can't think of any obvious inexpensive solutions.

Yep. Former military base. Safest place for your kids to go to school :) But it creates all kinds of challenges for decorating, painting, wiring, plumbing... etc.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Sat Sep 21, 2013 10:37 am

SecretSquirrel wrote:No two ways about it, if the signal degradation is as bad as you say, you need antennas in every room.

--SS


Sounds right. You think it would be possible to run a bunch of antennas from a single Wifi router, instead of having to do the complex (and troublesome) handoff from router to router?
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Sat Sep 21, 2013 10:38 am

zenlessyank wrote:Since it probably already has electricity run through the building, you may be able to use powerline networking modules.
dunno how pricey it may get but you wont have to drill holes!!!

Appreciate the thought, however I have not had good success with powerline networking. I have no problem drilling holes, although there are already conduits running to the various rooms.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Sat Sep 21, 2013 10:39 am

MaxTheLimit wrote:It won't help with the cell reception ( though I don't see anything in the OP asking for improved cellular service ), but at work we use Ubiquity nano stations in those sorts of buildings. They have enough power to get good coverage, even through thick stone / concrete walled buildings. They aren't too expensive. They are VERY durable, and they provide decent throughput.

Thanks for the suggestion! I'll check those out.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Sat Sep 21, 2013 11:03 am

JdL wrote:
SecretSquirrel wrote:No two ways about it, if the signal degradation is as bad as you say, you need antennas in every room.

--SS


Sounds right. You think it would be possible to run a bunch of antennas from a single Wifi router, instead of having to do the complex (and troublesome) handoff from router to router?



Because of the way RF and antennas work, no, afraid not. Even if you could, you probably wouldn't like the results. A wireless access point is capable of supporting a certain bandwidth, say 54Mbps. That bandwidth is divided amongst all devices sending or receiving traffic through that access point. So feeding several classrooms with a single AP where that is the sole method of connectivity, especially if the students are using devices too, would lead to pretty crappy network speeds.

One thing to note is that you do not need "wireless routers", in fact you don't want any of the functionality they provide. Authentication and DCHP need to be handled by a central system. All the access point needs to do is provide connectivity at the transport layer.

--SS
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Sat Sep 21, 2013 11:12 am

SecretSquirrel wrote:Because of the way RF and antennas work, no, afraid not. Even if you could, you probably wouldn't like the results. A wireless access point is capable of supporting a certain bandwidth, say 54Mbps. That bandwidth is divided amongst all devices sending or receiving traffic through that access point. So feeding several classrooms with a single AP where that is the sole method of connectivity, especially if the students are using devices too, would lead to pretty crappy network speeds.

Might be able to cut the number of APs in half though. Mount the AP on the wall, drill a hole big enough to poke an antenna on a short cable through, and serve the adjacent classroom with the same AP.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Sat Sep 21, 2013 1:14 pm

Does handoff really matter here? It's a school so I'm assuming he has some teacher PCs that never move and possibly a set of tablets that are occasionally brought to a room and powered up for an hour at a time.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Sat Sep 21, 2013 2:06 pm

JdL wrote:Sounds right. You think it would be possible to run a bunch of antennas from a single Wifi router, instead of having to do the complex (and troublesome) handoff from router to router?


You're going to be dealing with APs not routers, and if you have all of them running on the same SSID and security key the hand off won't be a problem. You'll, of course, have to have adequate coverage to avoid dead spots, but this really isn't a problem. This is how wifi access works in deployments that need to cover a wide area. There are a bunch of APs that all broadcaset the same SSID and use security key. There is usually a central controller, so support doesn't have to touch each AP when a change is made. End users just see magic, if they notice at all.

Depending on the budget, I would either go with cheap consumer routers running DD-WRT in AP mode, or a full on setup, controller plus X number of APs, from Aruba or Ubiquity. The DD-WRT solution will be more labor intensive since you'll have to setup and install each one, but it will be cheaper then a controller and a bunch of APs from a vendor. The AP will also be able to function as a switch for laptop or whatnot.

The Aruba or Ubiquity setup will be easier to manage, but the cash out lay will be more.

Either way, you're going to have a massive number of APs. Luckily, everything will be relatively isolated, so you won't have to worry about them interfering with each other, and you'll only have to worry about pushing lots of power on a select few to cover hallways, open spaces, and such.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Sat Sep 21, 2013 5:08 pm

We have a little bit of this concrete walls business, too. The solution is a lot of APs, which means more cabling and PoE switches. This also means more expense, but happier users.

We're using Ubiquiti Unifi WAPs, which are, in my opinion, the best and cheapest on the market. There's four APs to choose from, the AP Pro and the AP 'ac' being PoE out of the box. The regular and long range units need a 48v to 24v converter to work with PoE switches and adds about $20 per AP. The AP Pros are my choice, the range is very good, comes with 802.11a, and like all the Unifi APs, very easy to mount on a ceiling or wall. The AP 'ac' models don't yet do fast roaming and require the 3.0.something management software which is still in beta.

For cell coverage, you might have to go to a DAS solution, or something like Wilson boosters judiciously placed. The problem with cell boosters is that they provide signal, but not extra capacity on the cell network. Basically, they allow a couple hundred more devices to connect to the nearest cell tower. Microcells and other DAS solutions fix that, but can be a lot more expensive.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Sun Sep 22, 2013 9:40 pm

Hi all,

I manage a smallish enterprise deployment (about 150 wireless clients). This is part of an ongoing series, "tech enthusiasts are often not IT professionals--confuse the two at your own peril."

just brew it! wrote:So the *internal* walls are 1'+ concrete? That's rough. I can't think of any obvious inexpensive solutions.

Zenlessyank did!

SecretSquirrel wrote:A wifi access point per room, or per pair of rooms if you can locate it in a centralized point and run a couple of coax lines to an antenna mount in each room. It's not cheap, but in the scheme of networking, not terribly expensive unless you go with tier-1 gear. What you would get with a tier-1 solution is the ability to manage it all a bit better. If you are trying to do it on the cheap, you can probably do wifi in each room for about $100 per room plus another $150-200 per 16 rooms, plus the cost of labor. This all assumes you can get cable run too.

No two ways about it, if the signal degradation is as bad as you say, you need antennas in every room.


WiFi doesn't work that way. Beacon frames are single stream, and if a room can't hear that stream, they're out of luck. What about abg modes, you ask? (You won't because a minute of Googling is enough to convince anyone that this stuff is voodoo.) You then run afoul of diversity.

notfred wrote:For wifi if you go with proper business class wifi it will support http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inter-Acce ... t_Protocol so that devices will roam seamlessly from one AP to another.


802.11f never took off (for some strange reason vendors weren't interesting in improving compatibility with other vendors' products). These days, 802.11r fills that role, and has widespread support among enterprise gear and clients designed in 2010 and later.

SecretSquirrel wrote:Because of the way RF and antennas work, no, afraid not. Even if you could, you probably wouldn't like the results. A wireless access point is capable of supporting a certain bandwidth, say 54Mbps. That bandwidth is divided amongst all devices sending or receiving traffic through that access point. So feeding several classrooms with a single AP where that is the sole method of connectivity, especially if the students are using devices too, would lead to pretty crappy network speeds.


Right for the wrong reason.

SecretSquirrel wrote:One thing to note is that you do not need "wireless routers", in fact you don't want any of the functionality they provide. Authentication and DCHP need to be handled by a central system. All the access point needs to do is provide connectivity at the transport layer.


Access points are layer 2 devices, so transport layer is also incorrect.

NovusBogus wrote:Does handoff really matter here? It's a school so I'm assuming he has some teacher PCs that never move and possibly a set of tablets that are occasionally brought to a room and powered up for an hour at a time.


By attempting to determine actual requirements instead of blindly making recommendations, you have demonstrated that you are the smartest person in the thread. Well done--now go forth and frustrate people that want simple answers to complex questions.
To address your question, there could be scenarios where roaming matters. Wireless clients are simple devices--by default, they connect to the AP with the strongest signal. When you have multiple APs in the same coverage area (an auditorium/lecture hall/repurposed briefing room), this often results in an unevenly balanced load. Redistributing this load is 802.11k's job, and 802.11r makes this transition as quick as possible (which yields significant benefits when 802.1x authentication is in use).

Flatland_Spider wrote:You're going to be dealing with APs not routers, and if you have all of them running on the same SSID and security key the hand off won't be a problem. You'll, of course, have to have adequate coverage to avoid dead spots, but this really isn't a problem. This is how wifi access works in deployments that need to cover a wide area. There are a bunch of APs that all broadcaset the same SSID and use security key. There is usually a central controller, so support doesn't have to touch each AP when a change is made. End users just see magic, if they notice at all.


Correct, depending on the implementation. Behind the SSID is a BSSID, and if you have a bunch of APs that aren't tied into a controller, the client will treat each AP's BSSID as a unique network and cling to it as long as possible. Once it finally loses connectivity, it will gravitate towards the strongest signal AP in its list of preferred networks. This results in a far from seamless transition. Controller-based networks tie APs into a single BSS/ESS which, depending on the client, will make client<>AP associations less "sticky."

Flatland_Spider wrote:Depending on the budget, I would either go with cheap consumer routers running DD-WRT in AP mode


I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.

drsauced wrote:We're using Ubiquiti Unifi WAPs, which are, in my opinion, the best and cheapest on the market. There's four APs to choose from, the AP Pro and the AP 'ac' being PoE out of the box. The regular and long range units need a 48v to 24v converter to work with PoE switches and adds about $20 per AP. The AP Pros are my choice, the range is very good, comes with 802.11a, and like all the Unifi APs, very easy to mount on a ceiling or wall. The AP 'ac' models don't yet do fast roaming and require the 3.0.something management software which is still in beta.


Well, you did say it was your opinion.
In my opinion, the Cisco 2504 wireless controller is the best because the vent grille design reminds me of the ocean.

OP, femtocells are expensive and likely not suitable for your environment. Landlines are a reasonable alternative. The necessary wiring may already be in place. If it isn't, consider IP phones and a VoIP PBX. Runner up is a two-way intercom system.

As Zenlessyank suggested, wires are the way to go. This will provide basic connectivity to each classroom, and will have to be run anyway with a wireless deployment, as repeaters are a terrible idea. When it comes to pulling cable, there is little difference between pulling one cable and pulling three.

With this silly notion of "wireless everything" out of the way, you can then allocate wireless capability as needed. Room full of laptops? Make it a computer lab--wired. Room full of tablets--get an AP. Teacher with a tablet she bought--USB cable. Two computers and a printer? Switch. If you're looking at more than a handful of APs, go with a controller-based network (and maybe a cheap spare AP to loan out in a pinch). Consumer-grade equipment only leads to heartaches and headaches.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:17 am

Contingency wrote:
just brew it! wrote:So the *internal* walls are 1'+ concrete? That's rough. I can't think of any obvious inexpensive solutions.

Zenlessyank did!

That only solves the wired networking issue. The OP indicates that he wants WiFi and cell coverage.

After reading all of the responses (including yours), I stand by my original statement that there are no obvious inexpensive solutions.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:39 am

Contingency wrote:Hi all,
SecretSquirrel wrote:Because of the way RF and antennas work, no, afraid not. Even if you could, you probably wouldn't like the results. A wireless access point is capable of supporting a certain bandwidth, say 54Mbps. That bandwidth is divided amongst all devices sending or receiving traffic through that access point. So feeding several classrooms with a single AP where that is the sole method of connectivity, especially if the students are using devices too, would lead to pretty crappy network speeds.


Right for the wrong reason.

Do tell...

Contingency wrote:
SecretSquirrel wrote:One thing to note is that you do not need "wireless routers", in fact you don't want any of the functionality they provide. Authentication and DCHP need to be handled by a central system. All the access point needs to do is provide connectivity at the transport layer.


Access points are layer 2 devices, so transport layer is also incorrect.

Yes, poor choice of words on my part. APs are link layer devices....

Contingency wrote:With this silly notion of "wireless everything" out of the way, you can then allocate wireless capability as needed. Room full of laptops? Make it a computer lab--wired. Room full of tablets--get an AP. Teacher with a tablet she bought--USB cable. Two computers and a printer? Switch. If you're looking at more than a handful of APs, go with a controller-based network (and maybe a cheap spare AP to loan out in a pinch). Consumer-grade equipment only leads to heartaches and headaches.


Funny, that wireless everything might just be one of those vaunted requirements you were complementing NovusBogus on asking about. Having real experince with a large suburban school district, I can tell you that wireless everything IS a requirement. All the teachers have laptops and tablets and are expected to encorportate use of them into their teaching throughout the day. This means moving about the room and interacting with with students and the technology. This starts in kindergarten. By the time you get to high school, every student is issued a tablet and expected to use them as part of their normal class activities.

We can debate whether such use of technology is good, bad, or otherwise, but the need for good wireless coverage for pretty much the entire campus, at least inside, isn't up for debate.

--SS
Last edited by SecretSquirrel on Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:03 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Mon Sep 23, 2013 9:16 am

drsauced wrote:We have a little bit of this concrete walls business, too. The solution is a lot of APs, which means more cabling and PoE switches. This also means more expense, but happier users.

We're using Ubiquiti Unifi WAPs, which are, in my opinion, the best and cheapest on the market. There's four APs to choose from, the AP Pro and the AP 'ac' being PoE out of the box. The regular and long range units need a 48v to 24v converter to work with PoE switches and adds about $20 per AP. The AP Pros are my choice, the range is very good, comes with 802.11a, and like all the Unifi APs, very easy to mount on a ceiling or wall. The AP 'ac' models don't yet do fast roaming and require the 3.0.something management software which is still in beta.

For cell coverage, you might have to go to a DAS solution, or something like Wilson boosters judiciously placed. The problem with cell boosters is that they provide signal, but not extra capacity on the cell network. Basically, they allow a couple hundred more devices to connect to the nearest cell tower. Microcells and other DAS solutions fix that, but can be a lot more expensive.


Thanks, I appreciate the suggestions. Will look into these.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Mon Sep 23, 2013 11:39 am

My comment about drilling holes and running wire was under the (ass)umption that an access point would be installed in each room and wired back into a central router/switch etc. I also assumed that cell coverage would also be covered since they can use WiFi calling. Which means for CHEAP, this can be done.
I can do the job for you if it isn't too far away. I have a buddy who who is a licensed electrician so it can all be done to code. You pick out the access point out you want to use, then we can go from there. The drilling of the holes can probably be avoided as there are holes somewhere already for lights, ventilation etc. Use good shielded cable and I don't see a big problem.

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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Tue Sep 24, 2013 12:59 am

just brew it! wrote:That only solves the wired networking issue. The OP indicates that he wants WiFi and cell coverage.

After reading all of the responses (including yours), I stand by my original statement that there are no obvious inexpensive solutions.


And this is why you shouldn't listen to hobbyists. There's a Henry Ford quote being thrown around these days, "If I asked customers what they wanted, it'd be faster horses." (I wasn't really him that said this.) Desk phones and running cable would provide almost all of the requested functionality (voice/data access) at a fraction of the cost. Requirements aren't always what the customer requests, and often not what the customer is willing to pay for.

SecretSquirrel wrote:Do tell...

I did once already. It's "it won't work because of bandwidth contention" vs "it won't work because of how WiFi is designed."

SecretSquirrel wrote:Funny, that wireless everything might just be one of those vaunted requirements you were complementing NovusBogus on asking about. Having real experince with a large suburban school district, I can tell you that wireless everything IS a requirement. All the teachers have laptops and tablets and are expected to encorportate use of them into their teaching throughout the day. This means moving about the room and interacting with with students and the technology. This starts in kindergarten. By the time you get to high school, every student is issued a tablet and expected to use them as part of their normal class activities.


Ah, you've stepped into a school recently--you must be quite the expert. All I have are a couple years providing IT solutions to customers. For me, the experience seems to be:
Customer: I want A, B, C, and D.
Me: To do A, B, C, and D will cost $$$$. A, B, and C will cost $$.
Customer: We're fine without D.

My dad is a teacher. His school's wireless deployment consists of a handful of wireless routers that the kids keep breaking into. They use wireless because it's cheaper than hiring someone to run cable. I'll let him know the tablets will be there any day now. Odds are OP's school is a lot closer to my dad's level of funding than yours.

From a cost/benefit standpoint, wireless is entirely debatable. Select coverage can be warranted for scenarios mentioned earlier. Universal coverage is unlikely without someone else footing the bill.

zenlessyank wrote:My comment about drilling holes and running wire was under the (ass)umption that an access point would be installed in each room and wired back into a central router/switch etc. I also assumed that cell coverage would also be covered since they can use WiFi calling. Which means for CHEAP, this can be done.
I can do the job for you if it isn't too far away. I have a buddy who who is a licensed electrician so it can all be done to code. You pick out the access point out you want to use, then we can go from there. The drilling of the holes can probably be avoided as there are holes somewhere already for lights, ventilation etc. Use good shielded cable and I don't see a big problem.


The problem you run into with cell phones in that environment is this: these phones will have weak reception, so radio power is boosted to compensate. This kills battery life, which is a significant concern with smartphones. Dumb phones would provide better battery life, but are unlikely to support WiFi calling (and good luck convincing Ms. Jones to trade in her iPhone). All it takes is little Timmy having a seizure and being forced to send a student as a runner to realize the folly of this approach. Land lines are the cheapest and most reliable method, and if you can pull a line for an AP, you can pull a voice line at the same time.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Tue Sep 24, 2013 2:52 am

Contingency wrote:And this is why you shouldn't listen to hobbyists. There's a Henry Ford quote being thrown around these days, "If I asked customers what they wanted, it'd be faster horses." (I wasn't really him that said this.) Desk phones and running cable would provide almost all of the requested functionality (voice/data access) at a fraction of the cost. Requirements aren't always what the customer requests, and often not what the customer is willing to pay for.


Except the OP was quite clear about fixing the cellular/WIFI issue. If the question was "What's the best way to bring network access to X,Y, or Z?" then you would be correct. But the OP didn't ask that question and asked specifically about cellular / WIFI access. Therefore people are giving responses based on that. My guess is that there are people that would probably like to use their phones, tablets, etc., to access email and other services. It is a common problem. As JBI stated previously, the cost of fixing the issue isn't going to be cheap. So the issue of cost has already been mentioned.

There is no need to stand on Mt. Sinai and preach to people who are trying to assist others rather than appeasing their inner id. That is what YouTube is for. You can make a video of you watching you watch yourself all day and even peruse the comments to see if that self visual is pleasing to others. Conversely this area of the forum is designed to help people with networking issues or questions.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:35 am

kc77 wrote:
Contingency wrote:And this is why you shouldn't listen to hobbyists. There's a Henry Ford quote being thrown around these days, "If I asked customers what they wanted, it'd be faster horses." (I wasn't really him that said this.) Desk phones and running cable would provide almost all of the requested functionality (voice/data access) at a fraction of the cost. Requirements aren't always what the customer requests, and often not what the customer is willing to pay for.


Except the OP was quite clear about fixing the cellular/WIFI issue. If the question was "What's the best way to bring network access to X,Y, or Z?" then you would be correct. But the OP didn't ask that question and asked specifically about cellular / WIFI access. Therefore people are giving responses based on that. My guess is that there are people that would probably like to use their phones, tablets, etc., to access email and other services. It is a common problem. As JBI stated previously, the cost of fixing the issue isn't going to be cheap. So the issue of cost has already been mentioned.


I like car analogies.
Someone asks what car is the best to move furniture with. Some people debate the merits of Ford vs Chevy based on gas mileage. Drsauced swears by Yugo. Secret Squirrel recommended a unicycle, but decided it wouldn't work because it's too hard to find spare parts.

Someone who has moved before would realize a car is a poor choice to move with, and recommend a moving van instead. "But...but...he asked for a car!" That's obvious. He could have been really specific and asked for a red car. Doesn't change the fact that suitable alternatives exist at a much lower cost. Do you think he's being done a service by neglecting to mention this? In OP's case, the customer might not have thought about desk phones; wireless = easy, and easy = good. You have to look beyond what the customer is asking for, and figure out what they really want to accomplish (be able to send and receive calls, or move to a new house). Business is about balancing what the customer wants, what the customer needs, and what the customer will settle with. This is apparently a foreign concept to tech enthusiasts, where recommendations tend to be an elaborate version of "I hear good things about Edimax."

kc77 wrote:There is no need to stand on Mt. Sinai and preach to people who are trying to assist others rather than appeasing their inner id. That is what YouTube is for. You can make a video of you watching you watch yourself all day and even peruse the comments to see if that self visual is pleasing to others. Conversely this area of the forum is designed to help people with networking issues or questions.


Speaking of "assistance:"

SecretSquirrel wrote:A wifi access point per room, or per pair of rooms if you can locate it in a centralized point and run a couple of coax lines to an antenna mount in each room.


Per room pair configuration would not work, due to reasons mentioned earlier. Implementing this would significantly increase labor for no benefit (as the cable runs would be unnecessary) and cause the school to undercalculate the number of APs required by a factor of two.

VS

Me hurting the feelings of the resident expert (whose claim to fame is stepping foot in a school).

The outrage here is entirely misplaced. Helping a bad poster into a woodchipper is still help, and I'm glad to be of service.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:41 pm

Contingency wrote:Me hurting the feelings of the resident expert (whose claim to fame is stepping foot in a school).

The outrage here is entirely misplaced. Helping a bad poster into a woodchipper is still help, and I'm glad to be of service.


You, sir, are an ass.

To some of your points, I made no claim to be an expert and it wouldn't matter if I did as, unless I was a well known industry name, there is no way you could verify my claims anyway. My advice is worth exactly amount of time I put into coming up with possible solutions times what I was paid for it. So that would be very little times zero. Glad I could help.

Since you are the wireless expert, I expect you know that several manufacturers make access points with multiple independent radios in them that are specifically designed to feed seperate antennas and run on different channels and may or may not have diversity antennas for each radio. I will admit that they are enterprise class access points, but since you were recommending enterprise gear to begin with I would think that acceptable. Here is just one example that happens to have two radios with two diversity antennas per radio.: http://www.extricom.com/?catid={68926E01-12DC-428A-A850-45FA92081D33}

Listening to hobbiests and enthusiests is certainly a mixed bag and does require a certain amount of intelligence and leg work to be useful. No doubt about that. To the OP, good luck with your project, I hope some of the ideas tossed out have given you things to consider and that some of the attitudes and behavior will remind you to shop around when selecting your vedor and equipment provider. To be fair, I would be just as wary of a vendor that told you he could solve every problem you had without any issue too.

Y'all have fun now!

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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Mon Sep 30, 2013 12:15 am

SecretSquirrel wrote:
Contingency wrote:Me hurting the feelings of the resident expert (whose claim to fame is stepping foot in a school).

The outrage here is entirely misplaced. Helping a bad poster into a woodchipper is still help, and I'm glad to be of service.


You, sir, are an ass.


If I were cruel for the sake of cruelty, I would have harped on your numerous typos. You are an easy target.

SecretSquirrel wrote:To some of your points, I made no claim to be an expert

SecretSquirrel wrote:Having real experince with a large suburban school district


But that's beside the point.

SecretSquirrel wrote: ...and it wouldn't matter if I did as, unless I was a well known industry name, there is no way you could verify my claims anyway. My advice is worth exactly amount of time I put into coming up with possible solutions times what I was paid for it. So that would be very little times zero. Glad I could help.


There is a method, but it's not 100% accurate. Ever heard of the "wisdom of crowds?" If just about everyone agrees on something, it's reasonable to assume it's probably correct. As you can guess, the answers you receive are only as good as the knowledge held by that crowd. For wireless deployments and a tech enthusiast community, the knowledge just isn't there. The level of ignorance here reached critical mass, so I was compelled to descend from my lofty perch and shower you all with my urine wisdom. Drink deeply, my friends.

I have given bad advice before, and it once resulted in a mistake paid for with someone else's money. It sucks; don't do it. There are a couple of ways of dealing with the aftermath: 1) providing restitution, 2) in the future, hesitate before venturing beyond your area of expertise, or 3) claiming your advice is worth exactly what your victim paid for it. Some of these options are more respectable than others. Some people are more respectable than others.

SecretSquirrel wrote:Since you are the wireless expert, I expect you know that several manufacturers make access points with multiple independent radios in them that are specifically designed to feed seperate antennas and run on different channels and may or may not have diversity antennas for each radio. I will admit that they are enterprise class access points, but since you were recommending enterprise gear to begin with I would think that acceptable. Here is just one example that happens to have two radios with two diversity antennas per radio.: http://www.extricom.com/?catid={68926E01-12DC-428A-A850-45FA92081D33}


I am aware they exist, yes. The primary downside of that approach is that you don't provide 2.4 GHz bgn coverage in half the classrooms. If the school knew that going in (and were willing to upgrade/replace incompatible wireless devices) then it would be manageable. Per-unit cost is often higher for dual radio and removable antennas; given the additional cost and labor/resources to implement that solution, it would likely make more sense to simply purchase a lower-tier AP. I'd accept it as a valid solution provides someone did the legwork and confirmed that discrete antenna connectors for each band are provided on the AP recommended.

SecretSquirrel wrote:Listening to hobbiests and enthusiests is certainly a mixed bag and does require a certain amount of intelligence and leg work to be useful. No doubt about that. To the OP, good luck with your project, I hope some of the ideas tossed out have given you things to consider and that some of the attitudes and behavior will remind you to shop around when selecting your vedor and equipment provider. To be fair, I would be just as wary of a vendor that told you he could solve every problem you had without any issue too.


If the OP hasn't decided to bring in someone else, he is doing the school a disservice. Don't waste other people's money.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Postposted on Mon Sep 30, 2013 12:39 am

There's also the old adage, free advice is worth what you pay for it. I wouldn't dream of OP taking our collective advice without doing the research. At least OP now has an idea of what questions to ask, which can be the hardest part.
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