Managed Wireless Networks
Updated: May 5
Wireless connectivity is increasingly important in people's homes and having dead spots is most frustrating. In order to give good coverage throughout homes, multiple wireless access points are used. So what is the best way of configuring these?
One SSID and Password
You can configure all access points to use the same wireless name (SSID) and password. However, this is not ideal because mobile devices will tend to connect to an access point and keep this connection, even if there is a better connection nearby. So when you walk down stairs to the kitchen, you may show poor signal on your device, even though you are standing next to the Kitcheh access point. In fact, your phone is still connected to the weak signal coming from the bedroom. It is not until you disconnect from the bedroom that your phone will look for a stronger signal. Because all your SSIDs are the same, you can't simply select a closer one. Instead, you could turn wifi off and then back on again.
So the next option is to simply name each access poiunt differently. Basement WiFi, Ground Wifi etc. By doing this, you will be able to switch from one access point to another, withiut having to turn off the wifi on your device. You will still have the problem of your device holding on to the poor connection but it is slightly easier to rectify and much easier to diagnose the problem as you will be able to see where you are connected to. It is often a good idea to set your wireless network up like this whilst you are ironing out any bugs.
Managed Wireless Networks
Commercial networks, such as offices and shopping centres have relied upon managed wireless networks for some time. These have a number of access points wich all communicate with a centralised controller. This can tell where you are in the building and it will handle the process of handing yiou off to a new access point to ensure you get the best possible signal. Too many access points will actually cause many issues as they will cause interference between each other. A managed system will self tune and lower the transmitting power to take account for this. If one access point was to fail, the management unit will inform you of this and the remaining units will adjust their power to 'heal' the network. This is usually the best solution but it typically a much larger investment.
Recently cloud based management systems mean that you can have the functionality of a fully managed network, without needing a hardware controller, thus dramatically lowering costs.
Ruckus offers a cloud based wireless mesh system called Ruckus Unleashed. This works with up to 16 access points.
Its R510 models and above support wireless meshing, so you can hard wire the first access point and then have the remaining units create a wireless mesh network. This is not as quick as a fully wired network but it is a good option if wiring the netwok is not possible.