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Wireless Networking

Page history last edited by David Szpunar 8 years, 1 month ago Saved with comment

Introduction

Wireless networking was originally designed to insecurely access data from other computers without the use of cables.  Since then, WEP was created to make us think it was more secure even though it wasn't, and WPA was created to actually secure things. Some network admins refuse to allow wireless traffic onto their LAN, even if protected by WPA. If you are NOT  one of those admins, or if you are looking to provide public WiFi for your Church, this should be a great place to start and see what others are doing.

 

Purpose

 This page is to discuss Public and Private Wireless Network (WiFi) Solutions and associated concerns and practices.  

 

** As you find links that answer/reference questions below please link them at the end of each quesiton

 

** Please highlight open questions so they don't get lost

 

 

Basic Considerations: (please add detail - definitions, considerations, best practices, etc)

 

  • Will your wireless access need to support Private (access by authorized people such as staff to internal resources and servers) or Public (Internet access for the public at large) or a combination of both
  • How will you secure the Private LAN from the Public
  • How will you handle the legal aspects of offering Public wifi
  • Captive portals
  • Filtering Content 
  • Access management (mechanisms / process for managing authorized users / encryption keys / etc)
  • Capacity / build out (will your selected solution handle the density of users you expect at peak capacity?) 

 

Managed Wireless Options

Pros:

  • Enterprise Authentication/802.1x
  • Captive portals
  • Adaptive Radio Management / Active RF management for better speed and coverage
  • Central Updates to AP's (firmware and configuration)

 

Cons:

  • Higher initial cost for most solutions
  • Usually locked into one vendor

 

Platforms:

 

Unmanaged Wireless Options

Pros:

  • Usually cheaper than managed wireless.
  • Make use of what gear you have. Multiple vendor

 

Cons:

  • No centralized SSID management
  • No roaming/handoff
  • No Spectrum management
  • Lack of key management

 

Platforms:

  • Linksys
  • Netgear
  • D-Link
  • Many (not all) managed solutions can be unmanaged if you don't get the controller 

 

Tools:

  • inSSIDer: Free easy to use WiFi scanner to help identify good channels, coverage etc.
  • Ekahau HeatMapper: Free Wi-Fi Coverage Mapping Site Survey Tool 
  • WiFiFoFum: Free iPhone WiFi scanner via Cydia for Jailbroken iOS devices 
  • Meraki WiFi Mapper:  Free Wi-Fi Coverage Mapping Site Survey Tool 
  • VisiWave Site Survey software: $550 from Metageek.net - tried the free ones, went with this one.
  • NetSpot Site Survey software: collect, visualize and analyze Wi-Fi data using any MacBook. Free of charge.

 

What We are Using

  • Calvary of Albuquerque - unmanaged: mixed A/P's
  • West Shore Evangelical Free - IPCop firewall serving dhcp for wireless using 1 Linksys and several Buffalo (G) devices (forgot to mention that these routers are running dd-wrt to make management easier)
  • Tenth Presbyterian Church - just ordered Open-Mesh pro AP's for testing - will post results 
  • New Covenant Bible Church - using 40 HP access points with controller. This is a managed system.
  • The Moody Church - using 18 Cisco 1131AG LAP with 4400 WLAN controller. This is a managed system providing both a private and public access.
  • Granger Community Church - 14 Proxim AP4000 and AP700 access points. Lite management software. Public and private access.
  • The Chapel - Using Aruba Wireless with 650 controller, 12 x AP-60/61 access points. Adding 4 N-band AP's soon. IMO Aruba = 4 stars for features, 2 stars for ease of setup, 3 stars for price out of 5 stars. Some campuses are running mix Linksys & 3com unmanaged.
  • Faithbridge Church - 10 Ruckus Wireless 7962 Access Points with Ruckus ZoneDirector 1050 controller, Dell PoE switches, Public and Private VLANs. SonicWall NSA 240 is used to provide content filtering for both public and private networks, and to enable Comcast cable Internet connection to be used for public WiFi and as failover for the private Internet connection.
  • Windsor Crossing, Chesterfield MO - Cisco 1230/1250 APs and a 2106 controller. Went with the Cisco controller because stand-alone Cisco APs had already been purchased prior to my tenure here. Probably would not choose this solution if I were implementing a new WIFI network as it's $expensive$ and there are better-performing options these days for that kind of dough. 
  • Hill Country Bible Church Austin - 20 Cisco 1131AG and a couple 1230 LAPs managed using 4400 series controllers. We provide open wireless for the public and several private networks. Currently not using wireless for VoIP. 
  • Calvary Community of Westlake Village, CA - We are rolling out a mixed bag of Managed Cisco WAPs and have a 2112 WLAN Controller. Multiple SSID's (Public and Private). Love that we just plug in new units and the controller does the rest.
  • Lakeview Church - Currently 12 HP ProCurve "Radio Ports" (802.11g) with central management module in 5304xl switch. This is a solution that's now end of life by HP, but it is still functional with a lifetime warranty. So far one Ubiquity UniFi access point has been added to the network with settings to match the ProCurve SSIDs to blend in. UniFi will slowly replace old ProCurve APs as well as expanding existing coverage.

 

Recommended Reading

 

Comments (10)

Pok Ng said

at 1:44 pm on Sep 13, 2010

1. Anyone using Juniper?
2. Anyone using non-commerical firmware, eg. dd-wrt?

Pok Ng said

at 12:19 pm on Sep 14, 2010

Question to the Moody Church and Granger Community Church setup,
1. was site survey being done to plan out the physical locations of the AP?
2. if site survey was done by professional vendor, how much was it?
3. what is the size (sqm) of the church, how many storeys? are there basement?

Jeromy Stark said

at 9:33 am on Sep 15, 2010

Pok Ng: to answer your questions.
1. Yes, a site survey was done during the skeletal construction phase (before drywall, post steel stud)
2. Cost, it was done as a favor for us, since we were looking a purchasing the from the vender.
3. Old building 100,000 sq ft. & New Extention 50,000 sq ft. Total 150,000 sq ft.
The new extention has 3 stories with a roof deck and sub-terrain garage. Coverage is provided by Cisco 10 LAP

Stephanie Johnson said

at 11:45 am on Sep 23, 2010

For those of you using open-mesh - are there any tips, tricks, or gotcha's that you mind sharing? Are there any security issues I should be aware of? Currently we have a few standalone APs and I'm looking at a low-cost option that I can better manage.

Rob Lamarre said

at 12:33 am on Sep 26, 2010

I am using 6 Open-Mesh AP's at Point Harbor in Chesapeake, VA. They provide two SSID's with a web-based, centralized management interface. They work great for the price. They don't advertise using an internal IP, but they do. The device name just doesn't not show up in the DNS records, and no record in the DHCP logs. Very strange, still investigating.

aaron said

at 12:36 pm on May 12, 2011

I notice we link to www.open-mesh.org and difference in what www.open-mesh.com does?

Jim Dumser said

at 3:12 pm on Jun 14, 2011

Anyone have any experience with Netgear's wireless controllers, specifically the WFS709TP?

fgluck@... said

at 4:29 pm on Dec 5, 2011

Sure could use a recommendation for Wireless Access Points for an 800 seat auditorium. We currently have some older SonicWalls installed is small conference rooms but need to go "bigger time". Anyone want to contribute??

Michael Born said

at 5:02 pm on Dec 5, 2011

Ruckus Wireless. It's cost effective, it's managed, and it is very reliable. Ruckus uses a smart beam technology with their patented antenna system that doesn't just flood the air with signal like 802.11 does.

http://ruckuswireless.com

Dave Lopez said

at 5:39 pm on Dec 5, 2011

RE: fgluck

We went with Cisco Aironet 1250's (With directional antennas) with a Wlan controller, we were doing major upgrades at the time so the cost wasn't too bad for us. While researching we came across Xirrus - http://www.xirrus.com/ who offer these really nifty Wireless Arrays. We talked with them quite a bit, and the units just weren't quite right for our campus, but for a single large auditorium they'd be amazing, they have varying sizes and costs as well.

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