How can I best install and share a WiFi connection with people in my apartment building?

Alfred Walsh April 5, 2012

I see many apartment complexes that offer WiFi for all residents. How could an average person get a signal strong enough for himself and neighbors?

Maybe if we all donated a little we could have are own signal or network

  1. Kathy Roberts Banks
    April 10, 2012 at 8:11 am

    I wonder how much this would cost for an apartment complex to add. It would be a good selling point. Just have to figure out a way to make it so not everyone in the entire neighborhood is on it. 

    • Mike
      April 10, 2012 at 6:48 pm

      It depends... as always.

      For example the easiest installment would be a Wireless Mesh Network since it only requires the master node being connected via cable. But since it requires special "mesh access points" costs might go up.

      A roaming WiFi on the other hand needs Ethernet cabling between the access points. This cabling also comes at a cost depending on where the access points are going to be located.

      One would definitely have to do some wireless auditing 
      (1) to find out which hardware, transmit power, wireless channel etc. is best to cover the area.
      (2) to find the best spots for the access points to gain maximum coverage.

      With good auditing you can actually contain the signal within the desired area. This would be the first step to prevent third-parties from accessing it. Then you have wireless encryption (e.g. WPA2) and wireless security (Preshared Key, EAP authentication, Radius server, MAC filtering). 

      The strongest security would probably be the implementation of hardware (e.g. USB) or software tokens. Like a mobile phone with a SIM-Card and a PIN only people with the hardware token e.g. a USB stick or a software token (e.g. an certificate) and the PIN for it would be able to access.

      The higher the security the higher the costs~ 

  2. Mike
    April 5, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Usually building wide WiFis are using business or enterprise access points which are capable to create a roaming WiFi.
    Basically you have xx WiFi Access Points distributed through the building all sharing the same WiFi name (SSID), encryption and security. This setup is used to enable people to seemingly "jump" from one AP to the next available one without losing connection.

    In large installation you also use a centralized Wireless controller (some 19" appliance or desktop box) where all Access Points are connected to and get their configuration from (centralized controlling and configuration point).

    You could easily build your own "business WiFi" using inexpensive routers or access points. The DD-WRT wiki offers a simple configuration example on how to create your own roaming access.

    • Al
      April 6, 2012 at 3:08 am

      Thanks Mike this is exactly what I was looking for,, it will take some studying but now I am in the right place. I can't thank you enough

  3. Suhel
    April 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    I know this program named Connectify which can make your laptop a wifi hotstop. But I dont think it would be able to take load of whole apartment. You have to use wifi router to do so. Ask your local computer hardware guy he can guide you

    • Al
      April 6, 2012 at 3:07 am

      Thanks for the info, I have downloaded it and am still finding my way around site, it did provide a connection though and you can't beat the price

      • Suhel
        April 6, 2012 at 3:33 am

        I'm glad I could be helpful to you

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