Networking & Wireless forum


Wireless Access Point Setup for Apartment Complex

by Dman86 / April 25, 2011 9:06 AM PDT

We are looking into setting up wireless internet access for the whole complex. I am trying to see the best options and ideas. Here are a few questions.

1) We would have around 200 users at max (accounting for people to have more than one device or computer connected. Such as Xbox360 and whatnot). What speeds should we consider from a ISP.?

2) Should we get more than one ISP feed?

3) How many wireless access points should we get? (Ruffly we are looking at 5-6)

4) Where should the WAP's be placed around the complex? Considering the apartments are brick outside and inside regular wood frame/drywall construction type. Also should they be inside or outdoor WAP's.

5)What hardware should be considered? (switches, WAP's, ect...)

Here is a layout of the complex

I know a bit about networking and computers, but I am no pro. I have never done a project this large. Any input or ideas would be great.

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All Answers

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Suggest you need an on site professional
by Steven Haninger / April 25, 2011 9:17 PM PDT

that can do a site survey. Each access point will only accommodate a fixed number of users and signal strength will be affected by both distance and physical barriers. I see 4 building in your layout an can envision that you'll need more than one AP per building. I think a professional will probably suggest a combination of wire and wireless as you'd be much better off running a cable to each of the building rather than try to penetrate outside walls with wireless signals. This looks like something you'll need to hire out, IMO.

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Paid or free
by bill012 / April 25, 2011 10:30 PM PDT

If you are going to charge for this service it must work well. If it is free you could set up a couple of access points in common areas and let it up to the tenants to get enough signal.

Bandwidth is going to depend what level of service you want to offer. People are seldom satisfied with 384k anymore. I would be looking at 100m minimum. Things like netflix and hulu eat huge bandwidth. Note you want to buy circuits with guaranteed service level not consumer grade stuff where the bandwidth is only obtained when nobody is using it. You will most likely need some form of traffic shaper to restrict abusive users during peak loads, no matter how large you buy it will run at 100%.

It is nice to have 2 ISP but it is not trivial to setup. Gets tricky, you are not really big enough to obtain a complete class C block which is really the minimum to make BGP work with 2 ISP. You are more likely better off going with a single ISP but request diverse protected paths for 2 circuits. This is normally done by having fiber run from 2 different directions so that it can not be dug up by a backhoe in a single location.

Your best option is to partner with a ISP. They want to be able to sell to your tenants. They can install the technology to use existing wiring which is much better than any wireless. I suspect you have both cable tv wire and telephone wire into all the units that terminate at a central location. Pretty much they put in a fancy router that runs cable or DSL and hook that to some large connection back to their home office.

To get a wireless solution that works well (especially if you charge for it) you are going to have to pay to have a site survey done. It is almost impossible to guess since building construction plays such a large part in how well wireless signal propagates.

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