What is a good WiFi solution for a school building with concrete block walls and concrete floors?

November 25, 2013
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Our existing wireless access points are getting old and failing, and the temporary solution has been to use Apple Airport Expresses in individual classrooms. But for a comprehensive plan we’d want to use a better commercial, managed set of WAPs. Our interior walls are 6″ concrete block, and our floors are concrete too.

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  1. badaboum
    November 27, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    One word: UBIQUITI
    http://www.ubnt.com/

  2. pceasies
    November 27, 2013 at 4:06 am

    At our school we used Proxim. They work fairly well. Keep in mind if you're going to have heavy utilization (tablets in classrooms for instance), more weak access points will give you better performance than a few with extended range. We have a setup where there's an access point in front of about every other classroom for complete coverage.

    • pceasies
      November 27, 2013 at 4:10 am

      Also, you may want to start small by ordering one or two and testing them out to see what kind of performance you can get. Cisco Meraki access points do have a nice control panel (I've seen a demo), but you'll also pay a premium. Other professional access points have centralized control although it may not be as feature rich. Power over ethernet is extremely convenient and you should definitely consider access points that support it. You may want to visit other schools or businesses and see what they use and talk to them.

  3. snadge
    November 27, 2013 at 1:00 am

    Powerline Adapters are a great solution, use them to get a signal too the AP's in each classroom, this means no repeating is used (having to pick up one signal (just interference might prevent it or interfere with it) then re-broadcast it on another channel) - each classroom is cable fed (without fitting cables everywhere) as it uses the existing electricity wiring network......and have each classroom have its own router/AP connected to a Powerline Adapter in each classroom, each room would have its own network name and password too (if you wanted it too).

    also if classrooms (like most schools) run down hallways then put 1st classroom on channel 1, next one on 6 and next one on 11 then next one 1, 6, 11, 1, 6, 11 ...you get the drift so they don't interfere with each other (incase they do leak into other classrooms) - if you have adjacent rooms then keep the adjacent room on same channel, e.g. 1+1 , 6+6, 11+11 etc as Wireless-N has technology built in that allows devices and AP's talk to each other when there are "channel sharing" devices....but DO NOT overlap such as 2,3,4,5 ,7,8,9,10 as this slows it down due to interference into each other... 1, 6 and 11 don't overlap in wireless-N

    good luck :)

  4. Oron J
    November 25, 2013 at 10:27 am

    The Cisco Meraki line of wireless products is possibly the best answer for you. The Meraki wireless access points are designed to be managed centrally, so you can put wireless points whereever you need them, connect them to the network either wirelessly or with ethernet cabling (or I suppose, using PowerLine technology where appropriate) and manage all the network settings security etc from one location.

  5. Susendeep D
    November 25, 2013 at 6:28 am

    Have a look at the answer mentioned in the link below whcih has some good suggestions for you -

    http://superuser.com/q/613338

    Also -
    Dos and Don'ts of Wi-fi connectivity: Maximizing Range and Reception

  6. Thomas M
    November 25, 2013 at 6:09 am

    It sounds like your best option might be Xirrus, if your school has enough capital and the infrastructure to back this up. Xirrus are what is used at our workplace, and they are the leaders in WAP points, however call a them and check that Xirrus are the right solution to go with for your circumstance.

    Website: http://www.xirrus.com/

    Best of luck.

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