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I have a big crowded hall (around 200-300 persons) that I need to cover with Wi-Fi coverage, these people need to access a web server inside the network (it's an intranet). So what is the best hardware implementation? I have a budget of 280$-300$ only. I am thinking of buying multiple access-points (maybe 10-12 access-points?), will this be enough to give a continuous and stable access to users? Is there a better implementation?

I'd also be glad if you kindly recommend any AP brand or a specific model.

Thanks in advance.

  • More access points won't necessarily improve performance. If you need high throughput, make sure to use both 5Ghz and 2.5Ghz and to put each router on a different channel. But I'm not sure how many and if this will work at all. – Nobody Mar 20 '17 at 20:48
  • well clients are all gonna use their mobile phones and I don't have any guarantee that they support 5GHz band, so I'm obligated to use only the 2.5GHz. – Samer Massad Mar 31 '17 at 10:15
  • No you are not. If half of them support 5Ghz (and that's pretty likely), then the band is already serving its purpose. Also there was an implied question in my former comment: do you need high throughput? – Nobody Mar 31 '17 at 12:36
  • This makes a pretty good point. Regarding the throughput, not at all. Simple HTML updates will be sent every 30 seconds, plus an image every 20 minutes. That's all – Samer Massad Mar 31 '17 at 12:44
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I would try 4 dual band routers (i.e. they can use a channel in the 2.4Ghz range and one in the 5Ghz range at the same time), and set them up on different channels to minimize interference, checking for this. Go for the best routers you can get from your budget. Spread them over the room and connect them to an Ethernet switch. Try out different positions to get the most from your hardware.

An example of channels you could choose are channels 1, 6, 11 and 14 for 2.4Ghz as per this section and channels 36, 40, 44 and 48 for 5Ghz (I just chose the lowest non-overlapping channels allowable for the USA as per this). It should not matter how you pair those channels onto the different routers, so for example routers with

  • 1 and 36
  • 6 and 40
  • 11 and 44
  • 14 and 48 on 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz respectively.

You all set them up with the same SSID and password, but otherwise nothing special, just as you would for single APs. The clients will choose the best available AP (also switch between them transparently if necessary).

The router/AP you mention in your comment is a single-band 2.4Ghz one. I suggested dual band ones. One hint as to whether what you are looking at is dual or single band is that dual band ones (usually) have two antennas while single band ones (usually) only have one. But check the specifications! Dual band routers should perform as good as one router in one band, and a second in the other, so essentially you could two in one.

I think this could work, but no guarantees. The university WWAN where I study tends to get flaky in full large lecture halls (i.e. 300-400 people) and they probably spent quite some time and money optimizing it.

  • I will try buying 4 x TL-WA701ND access points and set 2 of them on channels 1 and 6 as well as bridging the other 2 and use the 12th channel.. or I might use 2 AP on 2.4MHz and the other 2 on 5MHz.. what do you think? – Samer Massad Mar 31 '17 at 13:34
  • Antenna count isn't a reliable way to identify dual-band routers: MIMO and antenna diversity both use multiple antennas on a single band; conversely, it's possible (but inefficient) to use a single antenna for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. – Mark Mar 31 '17 at 19:44
  • @Mark I tried to say that using "One hint [...] But check the specifications." You think it's misleading like that? – Nobody Apr 1 '17 at 8:01
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Although I'm not sure it's really doable (if all 300'ish people will be concurrently connected) for such a low price range. But buying 10 cheap APs isn't really the way to go. Rather by few (or even one like this https://www.amazon.com/dp/B016E7ZSKO) high performance/high throughput APs.

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