[SOLVED] help with a network for a small business

Sep 17, 2019
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I am trying to design my network for a rock climbing gym in a basement with no cellular service. I will have approx 300-1,000 people needing a good wifi connection. I am talking with two vendors that recommended two very different solutions.

  1. 15 Ubiquity WAPs (200+ capacity each) with Araknis router and switch. $6.2k
  2. 4 Cisco Meraki MR45 WAPs with Gigabit Speed router and Cisco switch. $15k (which includes network provisioning). The company also provides service (ie, answers questions, fixes network issues, replaces equipment immediately) for $350/month.
I guess my question is how different are these solutions in terms of quality of connection. Will the Ubiquity WAPs hold up to 1,000 users at once without issue? Or will I need to find an enterprise solution like cisco?

One issue is the price difference of the two packages. Another issue is whether I will need to purchase the monthly service contract to maintain the network should I choose the second option. I am tech savvy but not so much as to maintain a complicated network if I run into issues.

Can you give me your thoughts on this?
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
If you have Ubiquiti access points, then I would recommend Ubiquiti POE switches to go with them. Their UniFI routers aren't great for gigabit service. You would also want one of their cloud keys for management. Ubiquiti doesn't do premium support. They have a good user forum that is regularly used by Ubiquity employees.
Did either of these vendors you are talking to actually bring any hardware to your location and do a WIFI survey? If one did and one didn't then I would strongly look at the one that did. They are more competent IMO.
Either company, I would ask for your installation to also include all your wired devices, such as TVs, ID check stations, cash registers, etc. I would also want them to be capable of the cameras for security. You want ONE cable installer. You want to see photos of previous installations. You want to see the labels they use. You want RF test plots. You want cable connectivity spreadsheets. Have them show you a documentation package that is provided to an end customer. How good their documentation is, will tell you which company will probably do the best job.
 
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failboat

Distinguished
How many people will need a connection at the same time? Unless this is the largest gym ever I doubt it's 1000 at once. With guest isolation you can probably put everything on a large subnet with short lease times and not worry about broadcasts degrading the link or running out of addresses. This is not likely not complicated to setup. The hard part is the RF side. figuring out if the vendors really know this side well. If you can get back on how many at one time and what kind of space this could simplify things quite a bit.

with cisco you get the quality and support but not the price. with unifi you get quality price but no support. with the price differences you can have spares ready with unifi, but someone is going to have to swap them out and get it back up.

You can buy a unifi ap or two for $80ea and play with the free controller yourself if you want to test it. They are trying to design this stuff to make it easy to diy.
 
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Sep 17, 2019
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There will be 100-300 users at once on a daily basis and up to 500-1,000 when we have events (which may happen 1x/month). The gym is located in a 20k sqft basement.

How hard is it to swap out and in?

FYI, the vendor is suggesting the ubiquity WAPs to be located in the blue circles.

 

failboat

Distinguished
There will be 100-300 users at once on a daily basis and up to 500-1,000 when we have events (which may happen 1x/month). The gym is located in a 20k sqft basement.

How hard is it to swap out and in?

FYI, the vendor is suggesting the ubiquity WAPs to be located in the blue circles.

Provisioning a new AP with the controller is very easy. Each AP could have it's own RF profile though. To space them you would adjust the power and the minimum link speed on each access point. I've not done that myself so I'm not sure if that's another step after you have provisioned it. The real question is if you want to learn and do this or is it worth paying for support and timely replacements. Someone is going to have to get out on a ladder and swap the thing. The router and switch replacement are a different company so you would have to learn that software.

100 people per 2000 sqft is pretty dense. What is it like now? is there just no internet? 1000 people could use serious bandwidth too. With this density they will likely need to configure some traffic shaping.
 
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Reactions: Newark18
Sep 17, 2019
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No internet down there at all. We will be getting a 1gbps connection.

I don't mind doing it myself if it isn't too hard to learn. I would rather not pay $350/month for the maintenance contract.

Do you think the ubiquity solution can handle that capacity? Remember that 500-1,000 capacity doesn't happen that often. The capacity will be around 100-300 95% of the time.

If I get the cisco solution, will I still need to get the $350/month maintenance and service contract? Or will I be able to contact cisco directly to troubleshoot any problems?

What would you suggest that I do?

Thanks for all your help by the way. I appreciate it.
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
If you have Ubiquiti access points, then I would recommend Ubiquiti POE switches to go with them. Their UniFI routers aren't great for gigabit service. You would also want one of their cloud keys for management. Ubiquiti doesn't do premium support. They have a good user forum that is regularly used by Ubiquity employees.
Did either of these vendors you are talking to actually bring any hardware to your location and do a WIFI survey? If one did and one didn't then I would strongly look at the one that did. They are more competent IMO.
Either company, I would ask for your installation to also include all your wired devices, such as TVs, ID check stations, cash registers, etc. I would also want them to be capable of the cameras for security. You want ONE cable installer. You want to see photos of previous installations. You want to see the labels they use. You want RF test plots. You want cable connectivity spreadsheets. Have them show you a documentation package that is provided to an end customer. How good their documentation is, will tell you which company will probably do the best job.
 
Reactions: Newark18
Sep 17, 2019
5
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One vendor is an AV expert that gave me an estimate for my network. He definitely did not do a wifi survey.

The other vendor is the provider of the internet (gigxero that provides gigabit service to Newark). They provide installation services but I don't think that is their main service.

I don't think anyone can do any wifi survey now. There is no internet down there.

I've seen other companies providing wifi survey services. Should I try to get one first? I am trying to see how that may be possible without getting internet down there first.
 

failboat

Distinguished
One vendor is an AV expert that gave me an estimate for my network. He definitely did not do a wifi survey.

The other vendor is the provider of the internet (gigxero that provides gigabit service to Newark). They provide installation services but I don't think that is their main service.

I don't think anyone can do any wifi survey now. There is no internet down there.

I've seen other companies providing wifi survey services. Should I try to get one first? I am trying to see how that may be possible without getting internet down there first.
You don't need the internet to survey the space. If this were like 200-300 people over that space someone might have confidence in a guestimate. If you want it to actually work when 1000 people are there you really need someone who understands the RF side. Then hope they tell you the equipment they think will work is manageable by you.
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
I don't think anyone can do any wifi survey now. There is no internet down there.
They can do a wireless survey. Outside connectivity is not required. The potential vendor should have one of the APs like they propose to install and temporarily put it where they are proposing to see what the WIFI coverage is actually like. Preferably this will be done with as much of your construction complete as possible.
It is difficult to tell from your drawing what the distance between APs. Let's say an AP like is proposed for the install is placed at the bottom left most location on your drawing. You should be able to see what the WIFI signal from that AP is in the men's bathroom. If the coverage is bad, then you know they might not know what they are doing with your layout.
 
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Sep 17, 2019
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They can do a wireless survey. Outside connectivity is not required. The potential vendor should have one of the APs like they propose to install and temporarily put it where they are proposing to see what the WIFI coverage is actually like. Preferably this will be done with as much of your construction complete as possible.
It is difficult to tell from your drawing what the distance between APs. Let's say an AP like is proposed for the install is placed at the bottom left most location on your drawing. You should be able to see what the WIFI signal from that AP is in the men's bathroom. If the coverage is bad, then you know they might not know what they are doing with your layout.
The distance between the columns is about 18-20' so each AP is approx 20' apart from each other.
The other thing to keep in mind is that 1000 clients requires greater than a single class C private address space on your router.
What is the max clients? Do I need to upgrade the router?
 
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kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
The distance between the columns is about 18-20' so each AP is approx 20' apart from each other.

What is the max clients? Do I need to upgrade the router?
20ft between APs is awfully dense in open area. This is where a WIFI survey is really required to determine spacing.
Ubiquiti makes the AP-HD which is specifically designed for high density environments. You may need fewer APs (spaced further apart) with more expensive APs that can handle more clients. But somebody looking at a drawing in a web forum can't tell you that for sure.

Do you need a different router? I can't answer that because your description of the included routers doesn't provide enough info to identify which model has been chosen. BUT 1000 clients is a pretty big network. I will say that this page doesn't show an Araknis router that is designed for 1000 clients.
 
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Ralston18

Titan
Moderator
I am going to play "devil's advocate" here.

Rather than have the entire space "wifi" why not just a designated area for those who, when not rock climbing, can go to do wireless/internet stuff.

Do you really want those folks who are climbing or on belay, just "watching" etc., paying attention to or otherwise distracted by the internet?

Overall, I would do everything I could to keep climbing and internet stuff completely separate.

And patrons should know and understand that that is the environment,

For everyone's safety.
 
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