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Building a church network
I posted on this site a little bit a few years ago, and now that I am interning at a small(ish) church, I seem to be the go-to person for IT.
We have a newer-style Linksys router that does not provide gigabit ethernet. Our wireless signal only goes about halfway through the building. We have a netgear access point, but it does not work most of the time (it is only connected to the main router wirelessly).
My questions are these:
What is a good router to choose? I definitely would like to have gigabit connectivity. The best reviewed router on Newegg is the one I have at home, the WNDR-3700-100NAS.
I don't think we necessarily need a router that is wireless, because we are thinking about adding access point(s) in the building, these are the models I am considering:
1. Engenius EAP300 or EAP350
2. Amped Wireless SR10000
3. Unifi AP or LR
It would be ideal to have wall-to-wall wireless coverage that does not drop when moving from access point to access point, but it is not absolutely necessary. I've read a few good things about the Unifi APs (I was brought to a thread here by EricE on RenewedVision forums), and I'm wondering if there are any horror stories about any of the models I mentioned or ones I should definitely avoid. We're looking for the lowest cost possible, with the ability to expand if we need.
Thanks for any thoughts!!
Our network was a mess when I started, we had 3 completely different wireless routers, all with different SSID's and different passwords... And still had choppy coverage.
We ended up using a TP-LINK TL-SG1016D, which you can find for <$50 online, and two engenius ENH-200s, the engenius's are top notch, our LAN wifi obviously isn't that quick, but if I need any LAN work done quick, I just make sure the devices are wired.
Sorry, don't have much experience with the specific devices you're looking for, except to say that from my experience, engenius is really top notch.
Hope this helps,
For wired routers in a small environment, I'd look at the Cisco Small Business line of routers. You don't really need gigabit connections on the router unless your internet connection is over 100mbps.
For wired switches, I've been really pleased with ZyXEL web managed switches. I always thought we'd never need the features of web managed switches, but it honestly isn't that much more and it'll allow you room for expansion later on.
For wireless access points, I'd stick with the Unifi AP. I wouldn't go for the LR version because even if the access point can push a signal a really long distance, the likelihood of your device being able to push the same distance is next to nothing.
Derek Van Winkle
FBC Biloxi, MS
I also like MikroTik for price/features, but they definitely assume you know what you are doing. pfSense is a little friendlier and has, so far, somewhat better tutorials that I have found for MikroTik - but it could go either way. I think some of that is I've been using pfSense off and on for years, and still coming up to speed with MikroTik. I'm working on some general tutorials for networking, routing and wifi targeted at churches/non-profits and hope to go into questions like this in more detail.
I'm glad you found your way over! Of course you know which system I prefer. The only systems that provide "cell phone" like wifi where the connection does't drop when moving between APs are expensive campus systems from vendors like Ruckus, Cisco, Aruba, etc. For less than $1,000 to cover my building vs. over $6K and up for one of those systems, my users can tolerate a brief blip while their client switches APs. There are some things you can do to tune the power in your APs to encourage clients to move APs quicker, settings you can tweak in your clients, etc. to make wifi work better - but there is no "Magic Bullet" The two biggest things that trip people up in campus wifi solutions where their are multiple access points is overlapping the channels (only use 1/6/11 and if you have more than three, space out the 1's so they don't overlap, the 6's don't overlap, etc.). And that leads directly into the second major way people shoot themselves in the foot - leaving the power cranked all the way or assuming more power is better. Especially if you have multiple access points - try lowering the power a bit. Using a site survey tool like NetSpot on Mac OSX is also hugely helpful to pin down issues like interference from neighbors, overlapping access points, etc.
I have heard a few good things in the forums here about the Zyxel wifi units, and from looking over the web site they look similar in functionality. I was a little concerned about some of the "engrish" in their documentation, and it wasn't apparent if they had as strong and active a user community forum as UBNT does for the Unifi hardware and software. Having an active community in addition to the manufacturer support has become more important to me over the years, especially when it comes to picking between otherwise similar or identical products. If either of those impressions are wrong, I'll let the Zyxel fans correct me