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Re: Tough networking challenges

Mon Sep 30, 2013 3:05 am

Jdl, there are two things I need to know before I can give meaningful advice to you:
1) How much aggregate bandwidth do you need (per building and across all buildings)?
2) How much of your network can be wired?

Ideally, you would just run ethernet to each building and plug in a wireless access point or whatever you need. However, if there are buildings you can't reach, a wireless backhaul with even just one directional antenna and line-of-sight will easily get 100 mbps or more at reasonable range. Depending on your bandwidth needs, this might allow you to cover several buildings with a single antenna, as long as you can connect them to the backhaul network via ethernet. With decent equipment (even just a good, cheap router with DD-WRT), the connection quality is extremely stable.

Providing cell phone coverage is another issue entirely and I can't advise you on that.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Mon Sep 30, 2013 4:33 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.

I agree, at work we also use a lot of Ubiquiti Networks Unifi Pro APs.

It is an old building, most of the walls are the brick and mortar, but some are concrete as well. The walls are quite thick, usually about two of your US feet, or about 60 cm :) The APs work quite well for the price. I really like the central administration, one server to rule them all, overview, distributed firmware upgrade etc. And I still can SSH to an individual AP etc. The performance is very good, and the penetration through walls also is quite respectable. With one in every room you get the 5 GHz coverage there, and the 2.4 penetrates a couple of walls and floors too. In fact, our biggest problem has been that the range has been too good, people way to far away have been able to connect and use the AP:s, witch can degrade performance for the rest. That is a feature that has been very much requsted, ie that the nodes automatically drop connections that are too weak. I *think* that was implemented in a firmware upgrade a while back, but I can't swear by it as I'm not the head maintainer of that network. Also we run an open network, it is free for our customers, we don't mind that people around our locale and in the same building use our network as long as it doesn't degrade the performance for our customers.

Sure, super expensive Cisco stuff probably is better, but Ubiquiti has impressed me so far with the very reasonable price and performance.

If you want wifi, I'm all for drilling holes in walls and route wired network cables throughout everything, but I've noticed that wifi coverage seems to be expected nowadays.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:20 am

Ok. Took me a while to get over laughing at the trolls, but I can now report on some progress.

So I did a more intensive walkthrough of the facility this weekend. Couple of new bits of information:

1. This school has no budget - I'm helping out, and may be buying some of this hardware myself.

2. I made a mistake on my initial assessment of the internal architecture. Turns out that most of the building has 14'+ high ceilings, and there is a suspended ceiling that drops about 4-6'. Most of the interior walls only go up 8-10', leaving a gap between top of the wall and the ceiling. Most of the cabling is run above the ceiling - which makes a LOT of things easier.

We are able to run CAT6 everywhere, so it looks like I will need to set up only a couple of AP's to cover the farther ends of the facility.

So my remaining open question: Has anyone here had any experience with "Cell Phone Repeaters" - these are DAS / passive cell boosters, such as those found here:

Here are a couple other options I am looking at:

Verizon ... 00DPXL2E2/

ATT ... 00DPXKYU0/
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Mon Sep 30, 2013 4:03 pm

I work at a manufacturing facility. We have 18" thick concrete walls. We have a WiFi network that covers many acres worth of building with said walls. We use a bunch of Cisco LWAPs and some WLCs. There's really not much special from a wireless networking standpoint. The APs on the ceiling of the 1st floor will actually give a signal to PCs on the second floor in spots (thru the 24" concrete floor).

As for cell phone signal - we had several vendors come in and give quotes to cover one area where the VP and other big wigs have offices. They were all expensive solutions ($250k+). However, we have AT&T for company cell phones and they were very happy to subsidize the cost of implementing a system. The equipment is owned by AT&T for the first 5 years and then it's ours. Our cost was something like $50k. I know Sprint did a similar thing for another facility. So, I recommend you reach out to the cell phone providers and see where that leads.
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Re: Tough networking challenges

Fri Oct 04, 2013 11:25 am

This popped up in the Resnet listserv, it's a CENIC talk about DAS: ... g&index=27

I've watched all of 5 minutes of it, but there's some interesting information about FCC changes, yaaada.

Excellent information JDL on the walls and ceilings :)
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