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Low Cost Wireless Networking with Open-Mesh

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Often, I find the need to extend wireless (WiFi) signals beyond their normal intended reach. One option that’s available is high powered radios / Wireless Access Points (think Cisco Aironet). While these are great solutions, they often come at a hefty price tag.

Another option is to go with a solution like Open-Mesh. Open-Mesh offers low-cost Wireless Access Points (APs) that can be meshed together. In other words, all the APs don’t need to be connected with Ethernet back to the core network. For example, you want to get wireless signal in room ‘3’. You connect your first AP with Ethernet in room ‘1’. As long as you have usable wireless signal in room ‘2’, you can drop another AP there (connecting just to AC power, nothing else), and that AP will act as a repeater, re-broadcasting a new wireless signal. Essentially you create a lily pad-style network, where a daisy chain of wireless clouds is created that all make their way back to the core network.

You do however still need to put some thought into how the wireless network is designed. Every wireless ‘hop’ (where you’re utilizing an AP without Ethernet connectivity) increases overhead and reduces your usable speed. After a number of hops, you get reduced down to dial-up like speeds. In mesh networks that operate efficiently, there are a number of gateway APs, those connected to the core network with Ethernet, distributed amongst those non-gateway APs.

In addition, the network is managed through a cloud controller that is completely license-free. There is no upfront cost to an on-premise WLAN (Wireless LAN) controller, and you can manage the network from anywhere with just a web browser. There is even a mobile App available, albeit with limited functionality.

More information, including Network Planning Guides, can be found at: http://www.open-mesh.com

Author

Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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