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This may be a silly a question but here goes.

I'm looking into setting up a more robust wireless system for the company I work for. Right now we're running off a NETGEAR AC1200 consumer grade router with about 25 people in one medium size office all with wireless laptops connected to it at once. As you can imagine, wireless performance isn't great.

After doing some research, it sounds like what we need is a couple of wireless access points on different channels that then connect to a router with wireless disabled (for the sake of avoiding interference) and the router connects to the modem. This way half of the people can use access point A, and the other half access point B.

My question is, can I re-use the NETGEAR AC1200 we're using right now as a router for the two access points? Would it be able to keep up with the traffic of 25 people from both access points? Or should I look into something with more power? If so, what type of device should I look at?

Or am I looking at this situation in the completely wrong way?

  • my two cent, wifi is good for byod, but I always got in speed trouble for a entire office in wifi. if you can use a copper link for some gear it make a big difference. for your solution you could evaluate to use like a aruba controller, that will allow you to use the same ssid and your user will be able to roam between accesspoint without reconnection. – yagmoth555 Aug 17 '16 at 3:29
  • You could also use the Netgear as one of the two access points. – Michael Hampton Aug 17 '16 at 3:39
  • What kind of speeds are you looking for? Most of wifi routers out there can bottleneck as soon as you put 2 busy wireless clients on them. And all users will be limited to sharing a 1Gbit uplink per access point. You'll also have to issue of controlling which client connects to which AP when you have 2. Have you looked into business grade solutions at all? – Ryan Babchishin Aug 17 '16 at 20:34
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If you can, don't use home use products in a busy office

Yes, you can use consumer grade hardware but it's not always good idea. The AP will probably work, but it's not meant to be used this way, it's mean't to be in your house so you have surf the web and play Minecraft.

You are really pushing those access points by putting so many clients on them, especially if the clients are all active at the same time.

Use a proper firewall distribution such as pfSense (my choice), Monowall, Zentyal, etc... anything that runs a real operating system on a real server. Or just set something up yourself. Not only will it be more reliable, but faster, more flexible and more featureful too.

You'll be able to make sure it can handle the throughput because you'll build and configure it yourself. Consumer grade hardware is really meant for home use. Try to stay away from it if at all possible.

One day one of those APs/routers will die (they often die, because they're cheap, consumer grade) and you'll be screwed. At the very least one of them will malfunction. Try to prevent that.

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  • +1 for running open source on real hardware – Jason Aug 17 '16 at 3:45
  • I like this answer. I totally forgot about pfsense. I've setup a pfsense box before so this shouldn't be too bad. Out of curiosity what wireless card do you use Ryan? Or is it better to use dedicated hardware to output the wireless signal? – mBrice1024 Aug 17 '16 at 22:11
  • @user2326106 I'd look into business wifi solutions (access points) that are a bit more robust and reliable (designed to last a few years) and with more features (like letting users move between access points, PoE, easier management, etc...). I know, they're more expensive but some are reasonable. But there's some cool stuff out there. It's possible to put cards directly into a pfSense server, but it seems to me that's not such a great idea. At the very least it doesn't support many cards and you can't get the signal to the right place in your building that way. – Ryan Babchishin Aug 17 '16 at 22:20
  • @user2326106 Don't get me wrong about consumer grade hardware. I know people use it for cost saving reasons and such. Just consider better for the future... look into it. I know what it's like to work for a business that doesn't want to spend money on IT stuff and I know you sometimes need to wait for a budget. The prices aren't crazy if you are careful e.g. store.ubnt.com/unifi.html I don't endorse these guys, I've never tried any of their equipment – Ryan Babchishin Aug 18 '16 at 22:12
  • Funny enough I arrived at the conclusion. Ordered a couple UAP-AC-PRO's and I plan to convert an old desktop into a pretty beefy pfsense router. Can't wait for it come in so I can start playing around :) – mBrice1024 Aug 19 '16 at 1:38
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The router will be ok. The main challenge for you is to ensure that client are splitted equally between APs. Also pls note that switching between APs will be not seamless for the client, i.e all active connections will be dropped. In order to provide seamless switching you need to buy wi-fi controller. There are hardware and software ones. Software one is much cheaper and will be enough for 25 clients.

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A consumer router can handle 25 users fine, it won't be a bottleneck for general use. You might start to run into problems for specific cases eg. if everyone tries to individually connect to a vpn through it.

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  • snobbery beats a real world correct answer :( – JamesRyan Aug 22 '16 at 9:53

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