In article , Russ Gimple wrote: :I originally posted this to alt.internet.wireless but was advised to repost :it here because some of you guys here have experience with similar :scenarios.
I'm a bit surprised -- usually Jeff would have a good answer in a question such as this.
:We plan to introduce wireless LAN in a couple of student's dorm areas for :web based classroom management software (interaction teachers - students, :knowledge bases etc..) Filesharing and other bandwidth consuming ports will :be blocked.
:Which equipment do we need to handle *many* clients, say 200 simultaneous :connections?
In the past, Jeff (I think it was) has posted information on the number he has managed to connect to one AP. The WRT54GS is not even in the running, as best I recall. Whipping my memory cells, I -seem- to recall him finding that Buffalo was the lowest-end vendor that made an AP that could handle 50, and that to go much beyond that you needed to go up the food chain a fair bit.
:Would it be better to think smaller 'cells'?
In dorm and classroom areas, there are a *lot* of obstructions. Wiring, walls, metal rods in the concrete, water pipes -- and *books* are pretty hard on wireless signal.
In an ampitheatre-style lecture hall, you would need several APs just to cover the one room.
The alternative longer-distance more-penetrating technology is known as WiMax -- but it's pretty expensive, -partly- because the production volume isn't up there [but there are other reasons too.]
If you want to stick with WiFi, 802.11a (54 Mb/s, channels do not overlap, more common in Europe), 802.11b (11 Mb/s, most common, the 11 channels overlap leaving you with 3 or 4 effective channels), or 802.11g (54 Mb/s, 3 channels that do not overlap each other but overlap 802.11b heavily), then for that scale of a project, you*really* need a "managed" wireless system.
I'm sure there are a number of worthwhile managed products out there, but the only one I know anything about is Cisco's 11x0/12x0 series AP's when integrated with their WLSE. With Cisco wireless cards, or with select Linksys wireless cards, the cards themselves send signal strength and quality feedback information to the WLSE, and the WLSE can dynamically adjust signal strength on the APs in order to provide the needed coverage whilst trying to minimize cross-channel interference. The WLSE has built-in site-survey capability. It's interesting technology -- but it's not SOHO pricing, that's for sure!
:What about many WRT54GS installed in different corners of the area...?
Unless you are planning to replace the firmware on the WRT, then I would avise great caution before investing heavily in that solution. Read the reviews of the WRT54GS; read the user ratings. It is a device that -sells- well, but the user ratings top out as "fair" with a number of people saying they would never buy another one. No one particular problem that might be worked around; I gather that it can behave quite differently in different situations.
When I was trying to decide what to buy a couple of months ago,*none* of the consumer 54G devices I found had well-satisfied customers... except for the customers who replaced the firmware. It was quite discouraging.
In a situation such as yours, I think it would be better for you to consider dual-radio APs, possibly with WDS ("Wireless Distribution System"), and with that many users around and the nature of the users (and the ability of strangers to wander up...) give serious thought to going 802.1x authentication. WEP should not even be -considered- in your case (unless as a layer overtop a different encryption layer such as IPSec.)
A site that tends to have a fair bit of useful WiFi information is tomsnetworking.com . (It isn't a WiFi oriented site, but they do some good reviews and tutorials on WiFi.)