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I would like to know what kind of equipment is needed to make a large wireless network like the one of some universities like USC or Standford or from a Wireless ISP, what kind of equipment do they use ?

I know that Cisco is the leader almost everywhere on networking, is it also the case here ? What about the antennas ? What do they use ? How to they make fast roaming ? (normal roaming takes some seconds as I know). What is the utility of a "Wireless management system" ?

I've found this website, it looks like it's this kind of equipment that is used for huge wireless network, but I'm not sure: http://www.ubnt.com

Any idea leads?

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2 Answers 2

We (medium sized college) happen to use Aruba. We looked at Cisco's offering in this market space and all I can say is that they're not really "market leaders" in this particular space. Ruckus, Trapeze and Meru all also have good reputations with people I respect.

If you're putting up a large complex wireless network then a managed wireless mesh becomes important. This is what the likes of Aruba, Ruckus and so-on offer over conventional access points, and it really does make a difference.

A managed system uses essentially dumb access points which are managed by one or more controller appliances, which centrally manage and control things like access/authentication onto the network, radio settings (power, channel, etc), fast roaming between APs, distributing clients between neighbouring APs, and generally do a great deal to make the experience smooth for both the user and the administrator.

IMHO there's no way to get anywhere near the level of service these products offer by using normal, unmanaged wireless access points. Of course, the managed services can cost a fair bit, so it's up to you.

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We use equipment provided by a company called Ruckus. The access points and access concentrators auth against any backend you can think of. Not cheap, but worth it.

Personally I believe you can get quite far with open source firmware forks like OpenWRT and consumer products. It depends on how much energy you wanna put into the whole setup.

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