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Small business Wifi Network for 20-30 Devices?

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The network in my office is using a crappy free gateway, similar to those used for home. However, there are at least 10 employees in the office and all the desktops and laptops are using WIFI due to lack of Ethernet cabling. Each employee has a smartphone too, which doubles the device count.

What I have done for the past 2 years was to use a spare WRT54GV2 router as second wireless AP so the WIFI load is spread on two different WIFI networks. However recently the router as been acting up.

Being the "computer guy" I've been put in charge of upgrading the office network. I have no experience in doing this kind of stuff and the amount of information is overwhelming. My experience so far is just doing simple stuff like assigning fixed DHCP IP address to the NAS/Printer and changing settings via webconfig.

At the moment it seems to me that I will need a small business router/gateway device and some wireless APs. Also maybe upgrade the wifi adapters on the desktops to wireless N.
 
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The network in my office is using a crappy free gateway, similar to those used for home. However, there are at least 10 employees in the office and all the desktops and laptops are using WIFI due to lack of Ethernet cabling. Each employee has a smartphone too, which doubles the device count.

What I have done for the past 2 years was to use a spare WRT54GV2 router as second wireless AP so the WIFI load is spread on two different WIFI networks. However recently the router as been acting up.

Being the "computer guy" I've been put in charge of upgrading the office network. I have no experience in doing this kind of stuff and the amount of information is overwhelming. My experience so far is just doing simple stuff like assigning fixed DHCP IP address to the NAS/Printer and changing settings via webconfig.

At the moment it seems to me that I will need a small business router/gateway device and some wireless APs. Also maybe upgrade the wifi adapters on the desktops to wireless N.

The wifi adapters on the desktops would be fine if it is just for basic web-browsing stuff. heavy network access you 'might' benefit. Only 'might' as if you get a 300 Mbps router, that bandwidth is shared across all connections, so if you have 2 people transferring a large file at the same time, the N adapter will not result in increased shared bandwidth.

Just look for a commercial grade router, Newegg reviews are generally okay to go on and will let you know if many people have been having issues. Depending on how your office is set up, you might benefit from using power-line adapters for the desktops.

What kind of budget are you working with?
 
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Thankyou for taking the time to reply! Budget is flexible, but probably around the 100 to 250 USD range for the router. A friend recommended the Asus RT-AC68U router. It has 3 antennas and would definitely be able to cover the entire office space.
 

Aquinus

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Where I work (which could easily have up to 30-50 devices on the wi-fi) I had it setup where we had 4 APs. Three were on a secure SSID for staff members, the last was in the conference room serving of a different secure SSID for guests. Additionally our APs run on 802.11n on both bands. I recommend doing something similar, but the real bottleneck on wi-fi is when the airways get saturated. It's a game of diminishing returns. The more devices that are connected and are using the network, the slower the wireless will get and you can't just keep adding more and more APs because then channels are going to start stepping on each other (even more so if 40Mhz width is enabled.)

To me, it doesn't sound like your saturating the wi-fi but rather overloading the router. If your office has that many people, you really should have a gateway server serving up DNS, DHCP, and such. An old router shouldn't handle this and should only be in bridge mode to serve up the wi-fi.

I would start by finding your bottleneck. Try plugging directly into the router in question when it is acting up.
 
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802.1X Authentication via WiFi – Active Directory + Network Policy Server + Cisco WLAN + Group Policy

Whenever you buy hardware to business, remember privaty/policy/security.
There is many manufacturer for private use but those are not recommend for business
 

Aquinus

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802.1X Authentication via WiFi – Active Directory + Network Policy Server + Cisco WLAN + Group Policy

Whenever you buy hardware to business, remember privaty/policy/security.
There is many manufacturer for private use but those are not recommend for business
It sounds like his office isn't big enough to really get a benefit of enterprise-level hardware. Neither would mine. I think that's going a bit overboard and is very reliant on what kind of business they're doing as well. Additionally, you don't even know what kind of systems they have. Assuming AD means it's a Windows network. For example I work on an Apple and Linux network. We use Open Directory since we have mostly Macs and we have a Linux gateway server. We don't run a single Windows server. Our wi-fi APs are just your run of the mill Airport Extremes.

Additionally, enterprise hardware costs money. Many institutions like to save it whenever possible, even more so if it's a non-profit and a schoo like mine.
 

ktr

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Mikrotik makes some great wireless routers at an affordable price. Only downside is they only come in 2.4GHz.

There are four flavors of Mikrotik SOHO solutions:

1) RB951Ui-2HnD ($59.99) - 5x fast ethernet ports
2) RB951G-2HnD ($79.99) - 5x gigabit ethernet ports
3) RB2011UiAS-2HnD-IN ($129.99) - 5x fast ethernet ports & 5x gigabit ethernet ports
4) CRS125-24G-1S-2HnD-IN ($209.99) - 24x gigabit ethernet ports

I personally use the RB951G-2HnD; never again will I touch consumer routers. Don't let the aesthetics or size fool you. The range, performance, and stability is top notch. Imo, the best kept secret in routers; they have an amazing feature set equivalent to expensive Cisco or Juniper routers. That said, RouterOS (the software) is not super consumer friendly. You don't have to do anything from the command line per-say (everything can be done via UI), but you will need to know basic network concepts. They do come preconfigured as your typical SOHO router out-of-the-box and need a little fine tuning/personalization.
 

brandonwh64

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For a work environment I would recommend a full UniFi setup if at all possible. They sell a WLAN controller which is PoE and you can get 3-4 indoor nodes that can be controlled centrally by the controller. The controller is full gig connection and the nodes are Wireless N dual band with speeds up to 300MBPS per node.

http://www.ubnt.com/unifi
 
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I have been looking at this exact problem myself with the same range of numbers. I've found there are a wide range of choices and performance of the network very much depends on how much money you're willing to put into it.

Our wifi consisted of a single modem/router and the devices were only requesting internet access, the problem we were getting was either devices getting dropped off the network or just very little internet access at all when it was connected. From doing some studying I concluded that i could improve the performance by separating the roles, having a modem dealing with the connection to the outside world and DHCP and having a more powerful router handle the wireless devices (the router I was looking at was the model down from your suggested one, the Asus RT-N66U), you could probably go one further and add a low spec'd server box dealing with DHCP, DNS, etc. This was the cheapest option but left no real room for scaling up devices.

The other was as has been suggested, getting a wireless controller/gateway with multiple access points, obviously the cost scales higher but you also increase the overall capacity of the network with good performance, and usually with a good controller you can further add more access points to increase range/devices.

I think in this case it's very much you get what you pay for.
 

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The network in my office is using a crappy free gateway, similar to those used for home. However, there are at least 10 employees in the office and all the desktops and laptops are using WIFI due to lack of Ethernet cabling. Each employee has a smartphone too, which doubles the device count.

What I have done for the past 2 years was to use a spare WRT54GV2 router as second wireless AP so the WIFI load is spread on two different WIFI networks. However recently the router as been acting up.

Being the "computer guy" I've been put in charge of upgrading the office network. I have no experience in doing this kind of stuff and the amount of information is overwhelming. My experience so far is just doing simple stuff like assigning fixed DHCP IP address to the NAS/Printer and changing settings via webconfig.

At the moment it seems to me that I will need a small business router/gateway device and some wireless APs. Also maybe upgrade the wifi adapters on the desktops to wireless N.

Running your business on wifi is a big mistake. It opens a massive security hole in your system even with strong encryption. It takes just one dildo to leak the secret key and you are toast.
 
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Running your business on wifi is a big mistake. It opens a massive security hole in your system even with strong encryption. It takes just one dildo to leak the secret key and you are toast.

Theoretically, he could set up a couple of cheap routers for phones/tablet, then set up rules allowing specific MACs to connect to the work network on an enterprise grade router? Otherwise, yea, I don't think you want to allow any old connection to access a business network.

I've been trying to set up a 3 computer school network + wifi where I work, but I don't have access to any of the hardware :( The dildo in charge doesn't know how to set the routers to bridging mode.

I'm trying to figure out this sort of thing myself atm.
 

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Theoretically, he could set up a couple of cheap routers for phones/tablet, then set up rules allowing specific MACs to connect to the work network on an enterprise grade router? Otherwise, yea, I don't think you want to allow any old connection to access a business network.

I've been trying to set up a 3 computer school network + wifi where I work, but I don't have access to any of the hardware :( The dildo in charge doesn't know how to set the routers to bridging mode.

I'm trying to figure out this sort of thing myself atm.

He could buy some decent prosumer wireless routers and then setup a VPN server. That way people could connect to the wireless network and then use a VPN to connect into the actual business network.
 
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Thank you all for the suggestions! I will have quite some studying to do it seems :)
 
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Benchmark Scores Network: APs: Cisco Meraki MR32, Ubiquiti Unifi AP-AC-LR and Lite Router/Sw:Meraki MX64 MS220-8P
Cisco Meraki: Cloud controlled/remotely administered, easy to use, configurable before deployment makes it easy to configure online and then ship direct to client site without ever touching the router)
Z1: 230 max price 180 average price: Review: http://remixedcat.blogspot.com/2014/02/cisco-meraki-z1-review.html (designed for 5 users however supports 15 devices with no issues at all)
MX60W:max price 980 average price 740: review: http://remixedcat.blogspot.com/2014/01/cisco-meraki-mx60w-review.html (designed for 20 users and can handle up to 40)

Please see reviews for breakdowns on authentication and to see how different it is compared to consumer routers.

Do not bother with consumer grade networking gear for a business. Not worth the headache and most consumer gear will not handle the load. Applebee's here (vienna,wv) uses a consumer grade netgear router with some custom firmware and it chokes on a half-packed house. Applebee's in Cincinatti use Cisco Meraki APs and they had a completely packed house and it handled them very well. I was even able to watch youtube vids with no buffering when i saw EVERYONE there on their phones and 1/3rd of the crowd had ipads/nexus tablets and were using them a lot that day we went.

Also the fact companies in the consumer grade arena neglect thier firmware and customers as well. Inferior hardware and personell.

If you're worried about the cloud part of Meraki, don't. They have PCI compliant datacenters they run off of and are very secure. it's awesome and works very well with no issues. redundant data centers as well.

Tons of businesses use Meraki and they like them. Not heard any complaints from any of the businesses I've surveyed about them. :)
 

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