new building - seamless wireless access

I am building out a new office space. 7200 sq feet with many individual offices. I would like to provide one seamless wireless network throughout the space such that you can walk around the entire office without switching wireless networks. I will also provide many wired ethernet jacks throughout the space - I'm comfortable with that setup. What I want to know is what is the best way to have multiple access points operate together to provide great coverage throughout the space with no deadspots.

A bit more info - In my current location I have a linux box configured as a router with 3 nics one goes to the internet, one goes to a wired network (multiple computers on a switch behind the router) and one goes to a wireless router. In the new building I would like many wireless access points to connect to a second switch just for the wireless access points. I would like the wireless access points to be true access points and not routers and let the linux box handle all the dhcp.

To summarize I would have a linux box connected to the internet acting as my router / firewall. two internal nics each going to a switch. One switch for wired connections and one switch for wireless access points.

Specific recommendations for access point brands / models and information or links on how to set them up as multiple access points for the same network.

Also, any guesses as to a good number of access points to use in order to provide excellent coverage for a single story, 7200 sq ft building with many 10 x 10 offices?

Thanks in advance

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On Sun, 3 Feb 2008 11:29:29 -0500, jswright61 wrote in :

Use the same *unique* SSID on all access points.

It can be straightforward to provide complete coverage, but seamless roaming tends to be problematic -- many wireless adapters will try to hang on to access point A even when the signal from A gets weak and the signal from B gets much stronger, and when switching from A to B, things like VPN connections tend to be lost.

Do a radio site survey

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test location of access points on the three minimally overlapping channels (1, 6, 11)
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Sure. Wireless routers are often cheaper than wireless access points, and can be configured as wireless access points:

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Cisco Aironet. Excellent documentation available.

No real way to tell without a site survey -- much depends on radio interference, attenuation through walls and partitions, reflections, etc.

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John Navas

Thanks for the excellent, comprehensive answers to my questions.

Do most access points provide for external antennas and are there any recommendations on this front? The APs themselves will be sitting in an attic above a hard (Sheetrock) ceiling. I'm sure I would get better coverage if I could mount an external antenna in the ceiling below.

Is there a particular model of the Cisco Aironet recommended?

In learning more about this, I have decided to do my house as well so I can roam with my laptop and also take advantage of Sprint's hotspot technology which lets my blackberry use wireless networks for voice calls (cell phone reception in parts of my house is spotty at best with any carrier). At home I think I would like to use routers as APs. Since I have ethernet jacks in various locations, I can plug the router into the jack, use one of the lan ports for this, and still have at least 3 extra lan ports that I can use (there is already an ethernet device at each of the jacks I would use).

I would prefer to learn just one interface and keep track of firmware upgrades for just one device, so if there is a router that would do in both locations, I'd probably go with that.

Thanks again for all the great help.

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On Sun, 3 Feb 2008 14:43:15 -0500, jswright61 wrote in :

You're welcome. Thanks for saying thanks.

The better ones do. Even some of the cheap ones.


Cisco has excellent planning documentation that will help specify the hardware needed, but you'll still need to start with a site survey. It's hard to know what you'll need until the task is defined.

The problem is that most people don't value their own time and quality of service the way a business does, so they're willing to put up with cheap gear to keep the front end cost down. That's not a good idea in a commercial environment where the s___ can hit the fan when the network goes down.

Here's an example: A friend of mine just spent an entire day of his time getting a cheap wireless router working. Cost to him was zero. But if that had been a business, the cost would have far exceeded the price of commercial grade hardware that would have worked right from the getgo.

Commercial grade access points start at about $500 and go up from there. Cheap consumer gear can be had for 1/10 that or less. Which way do you want to go?

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