Im currently evaluating options for extending our Church's wireless connectivity.
We're also installing a Win 2k8 Domain Controller, DHCP and DNS server.

We need wireless access points that work great with our iOS devices too, and have heard of some issues with cisco's small business range.

I've budgetted enough for about 3 airport extremes connected by reels of Cat6 Ethernet cable around the building.

One issue we foresee is the 50 user limit on the airport extreme..

My question is: How do multiple airports effect the user limit?

If we have 2 airport extremes would we be limited to 50 users? Or 50 per access point? 100 overall...

How about adding an express?

Does 1 extreme + 1 express = 70 users?

  • 2
    What issues have you heard with the Cisco SMB Wifi gear? Airport Extremes are OK, but they're a bugger to configure, gotta use a windows box or a MacOSX box, and you've gotta use their application. – Tom O'Connor Jan 8 '12 at 21:44
  • It was particularly with the WAP2000 model (small business AP).. Yeah using the client did put me off a bit! :P – Daniel Upton Jan 8 '12 at 22:05
  • Does your church have enough bandwidth on the backend for the capacity of your access points to matter? – Skyhawk Jan 8 '12 at 22:13
  • @MilesErickson that's a good point :P broadband probably not, but the primary clients will be using the domain controller and file shares etc mostly. – Daniel Upton Jan 8 '12 at 22:19
  • @TomO'Connor thanks! How's the range on those things? Would the signal get through some of those thick walls? – Daniel Upton Jan 8 '12 at 22:21

It's 50 user per AP, but there's no way for you to load-balance who connects to what AP. Just because you have 3APs doesn't mean you'll be able to have 150 concurrent users. That's only in an ideal world. You really should invest in APs that can auto-loadbalance and do smart channel select.

Depending on how many concurrent users you plan on having, you might need to look at professional grade products from someone like Cisco or Aruba. When you get into hundred(s) of concurrent users in the same place, the quality of APs start to show. Doing wireless at home is cheap, doing wireless in a professional capacity is not. If you have a small budget, then there's not a whole lot you can do, but you certainly get what you pay for in the wifi space.

For what it's worth, I manage a wireless network with a total of over 400 Cisco 1131, 1141, 1040, and 1231 APs and none of them have any problem with iOS devices. I know of colleagues that run similar sized wireless networks on Aruba gear and also have no problems with iOS devices either.

  • These things look like fun / interesting hardware. ubnt.com – Tom O'Connor Jan 8 '12 at 21:59
  • Thanks for your answer @MDMarra! We don't foresee more than about 50 users for now, just thinking ahead for peaks when we have big events etc.. the main reason for the multiple APs is to get around the thick walls with wire mesh etc! I'll deffinately take a look at the cisco models you suggested :D – Daniel Upton Jan 8 '12 at 22:04
  • +1 - If you're planning on having 150+ clients in a small physical area you're looking at needing reasonably high-end access points. I'll throw out the Ruckus Wireless name, along w/ the names @MDMarra mentioned (ruckuswireless.com). My experience with their APs has been fantastic. Their APs do a great job of tuning their radio parameters ("beam forming") to create a very high client density in "challenging" environments. – Evan Anderson Jan 8 '12 at 22:04
  • Thanks @EvanAnderson I'll be sure to check them out! What's the price range like? Would I be better off (signal wise) with 2 ruckus APs than 3 airports? – Daniel Upton Jan 8 '12 at 22:23
  • @Daniel: Ruckus APs aren't inexpensive. Expect to spend $300+ each for their radios. re: "signal" -- You're best with whatever works well in your environment. The specific shape of your building and the types of clients you're using will be the deciding factor. Neighbors using interfering radios / signal sources, etc, will also be a factor. There's no one-size-fits-all solution in radio. – Evan Anderson Jan 8 '12 at 22:35

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