06 Jun Access Points: Cable or Mesh
Creating a WIFI hotspot sounds like a pretty straightforward thing to do. Get an internet connection, connect it to a few access points and voila you have a WIFI zone. Add in software to manage users and you are ready to go! In theory, this is exactly what is needed. So it’s interesting to ask why something like 75% of our business is simply replacing WIFI services installed by our competitors that simply don’t work!
WIFI services often don’t work because the equipment being used is designed for home use or is of cheap and inferior quality. However we also see a large number of services that don’t work due to poor design.
A key aspect of any design is the question of whether access points are being physically connected. Either to the internet via cable (CAT5 or 6) or whether a wireless mesh is being used to link the access points together. Of course using a wireless mesh is a far cheaper and quicker way of setting up the WIFI Hotspot. When testing a brand new system it can even look like it works well. But just wait until some guests connect and see what happens.
Unless very high end access points like Ruckus, Aruba or Cisco/Meraki are being used, all other access points will lose something like 50% of the signal for each mesh that is connected. This means is if you have a 20Mbps internet connection, the first meshed access point will only be able to deliver 10Mbps, the second 5Mbps, the third 2.5Mbps and so on. Anything more than a one hop mesh is going to degrade the service so much that while getting a cheap solution you are also inviting lots of guest complaints.
The other consideration is just how many people are using wireless services today. Think of all of the smart phones, tablets and modems out there. All of them continuously sending packets of data into the air, uploads, downloads and connections. The more interference, the slower the service will be that can be delivered by meshed access points. Try this quick experiment. Connect to your WIFI – whether at home or in the office and run a speedtest (go to www.speedtest.net), then try again but this time plug a cable from your laptop straight into the modem. Depending on the levels of interference you might find that the WIFI is only giving you half the speed as a wired connection
At Delion, we know that the design of any WIFI hotspot is crucial to its successful performance. Unless using high end access points stick to the golden rule and keep everything cabled. Especially as we enter a period where NBN and faster services are becoming available, a meshed service is simply going to leave you frustrated and disappointed.
The team at Delion is always happy to discuss your specific WIFI needs – call us today on 1300 576 369