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I was wondering if I can make a network like this:

  1. ISP direct fiber connects to modem that connects to firewall.
  2. Firewall connects to router.
  3. Router connects to switch(24 ports) that connects to (20+) access point.

Is there is need for a wireless controller?

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migrated from Sep 10 '12 at 14:59

This question came from our site for computer enthusiasts and power users.

What is the purpose of this network? – David Schwartz Sep 10 '12 at 15:09

Assuming by "access point" you mean wireless access points, then in answer to your question, yes this would work and no there's no need to have a wireless controller, however in my experience it makes your life a lot easier. If you need to change the SSID, for instance, you will have to do it 20 times. Also, depending on the authentication method, you will have to manage them individually at each change.

If you have many wireless access points in your area you may also find it hard to manage the channel distribution due to the way most access points will try to autoconfigure themselves, and in busy areas manual channel configuration can result in other access points automatically reconfiguring themselves to the same channel and causing you problems.

All of this will culminate in a management headache for you in the long run, especially if it will be a heavily used wireless network

With a wireless controller you'd be able to manage all this centrally, so changing the SSID or authentication details will be as simple as logging in to the controller and changing it once. As all the access points are managed centrally it will also centrally manage the channels assigned to each point so that they avoid each other as best they can, if one access point starts conflicting with an external access point the controller will manage this for you automatically too.

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Managing 20 APs can be quite a challenge - depending on how frequent changes will occur - so a wlan-controller can have distinct advantages...

If you need some device that covers all (no modem but router/firewall + wlan-controller) you might want to have a look to sophos utm 9.


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A wireless controller will simplify the configuration.

However, the biggest advantage of a wireless controller is that it manages roaming. When the controller decides that a different access point would be better for a device (for example, you're walking down a hallway), it actively disconnects you from your current AP and gets you to connect to a new AP. Without a controller, your device would have to decide that your current connection isn't good enough and disconnect.

They make access points that have built-in controllers so you don't need a separate device.

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