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We are trying to cover entire floors in a few high rises. Currently we are just using a few scattered Linksys routers running DD-WRT. Unfortunately that isn't robust enough.

The ideal situation would be allowing anyone on the floor to connect to it and be redirected to a web page to authenticate. We would also like this network to be segregated from the LAN it is connected to. Basically public WiFi but we would like to at least have a password that we can change every few months.

A networking company wanted around $70k to do all 6 sites. That is not really a price our customer wants to pay.

Anyone here done something similar and have some suggestions they can put our way? Thanks!

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closed as not constructive by Zoredache, Shane Madden, Scott Pack, MDMarra, mailq Oct 26 '11 at 22:37

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Did they tell you how many APs it would take to cover the buildings in their quote? Can you post the quote somewhere? – Zoredache Oct 25 '11 at 21:06
No, unfortunately not. I don't have access to any quote, it was from another company. I am currently trying to at least get the square footage for each of the sites. – Tamerz Oct 25 '11 at 21:47
Wireless is expensive to do right. We spent $250k on Cisco wireless gear and we haven't have to reboot a single AP ever in a heavily trafficked dorm environment. Trust me, you get what you pay for. By getting a controller-based (expensive) solution like Cisco, Aruba, etc, you get centralized management and upgrades as well as auto-band select and all kinds of reliability features that just do not exist on consumer-grade hardware, which seems like what you're looking to pay for. – MDMarra Oct 26 '11 at 22:34

I would suggest that you look into Mikrotik routing products. Mikrotik has inexpensive, yet robust hardware and software that will allow you to accomplish the task that you're outlining.

Mikrotik provides great abilities for wireless providers, and the RouterOS should have all the capabilities you require. RouterOS has the ability to create Wireless Mesh networks as well as configure hotspots which would allow you to control access to the networks that were set up.

While the hardware and software is inexpensive, it's by no means simple and will likely require someone with a good grasp of networking to set it up (but then again, any network with the level of complexity you describe will). Going with MikroTik will likely help you save some money off the original quote as the hardware/software is inexpensive in comparison to it's competition.

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I'll take a look. I remember using their router on a floppy about 10 years ago with an old Pentium box. Cool to see they are still around. – Tamerz Oct 25 '11 at 21:51

I would look at Ubquiti UniFi system. That is a simple out of the box solution that works. You can also roll your own using OpenWRT and some external management tools, that is what I am currently doing. I ended up writing my own system because the others did not fit my needs. That being said UnFi is a great system and fits most use cases.

The UniFi system is a combination of access points and a software based server. It allows for central based management of all of your unifi based AP's. As part of the software you can set things up like WDS, Guest Login with a optional payment gateway. It also allows for some basic up down type monitoring as well as some basic usage stats. One other feature that I like is the ability to make your own wifi map with it. You choose a picture for your background (a map of the building for instance) and then you can put markers where the AP's are.

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Can you please update your answer with more details about why UniFi would be a good fit? Having an answer from a vendor is fine, but we really would like to see more detail in an answer. A simple link isn't very helpful. – Zoredache Oct 25 '11 at 21:05
It looks interesting, I will take a harder look. I also found from another post on here which looks interesting. $1200 management device, but it auto meshes wirelessly with up to 6 AP's and can scale beyond that with software upgrade. – Tamerz Oct 25 '11 at 21:50
@Zoredache First off full disclosure I am not associated with Ubquiti. That being said I do love their products. I have edited my answer with additional details – kaptk2 Oct 26 '11 at 22:27

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