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Ask Slashdot: Best Wi-Fi Solution For a Hotel?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the we'll-keep-a-flickering-led-on-for-you dept.

Networking 300

dynamo52 writes "I have been tasked with replacing a managed Wi-Fi system for a mid-sized hotel. They have already selected Comcast to provide a 100mbps connection, which unfortunately must come in at one corner of the ~5-acre property. The hotel plans to provide this service for free, so there is no need for any type of billing management system, though it should be secured enough that the parking lot does not become a free Wi-Fi hotspot. Additionally, there is no ethernet infrastructure in place. The existing APs (hidden away in proprietary encasements) seem to be connected via telephone lines and the owners have strongly indicated they would prefer that no new wiring be installed. Have any Slashdotters implemented similar systems? Specifically, what hardware did you use and what special considerations should I take in designing this system?"

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Well if they getting comcast tv as well then (3, Informative)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154266)

Well if they getting comcast tv as well then they may need to rewire the cable system as well any ways. Any way more info on how they AP are setup and linked will help.

And to cut down on free wifi use you can set a password that you just give out to hotel guests.

Re:Well if they getting comcast tv as well then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154330)

THIS

Use a password for the WiFi even though it is free. This reduces the number of parking lot surfers as mentioned, but also grants a tad more security for your guests. Probably not enough to trust with a credit card number, but I might feel a little better about logging into Facebook.

Re:Well if they getting comcast tv as well then (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154710)

Yeaaah... that shouldn't matter actually. The web programmer that transmits credit card data unencrypted should be shot on sight in today's security concerned society. So no matter if the wireless is unsecured, buying shit should still be safe.

Re:Well if they getting comcast tv as well then (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154580)

This is stupid. How many parking lot surfers are you really going to see? There are plenty of places to get online. Is a parking lot surfer once in a blue moon really going matter? I say not at all. Why is everybody always out to get others? It's not like it is costing your hotel any more money. In fact the only thing costing your hotel money is the time you are wasting trying to deal with a non-issue.

Re:Well if they getting comcast tv as well then (2)

gmack (197796) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154852)

No need, you can install a VDSL DSLAM where all of those phone cables connect and get a reasonably decent data rate to the hotspots.

Get A Hooker (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154268)

If you're staying in a hotel/motel just get a hooker. Hookers are "hands on" and "direct connect". No more need for WiFi.

Dude, I don't wanna shit all over your question (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154270)

But it seems like there is an entire market of consultants whose entire job description is planning this sort of thing?

Re:Dude, I don't wanna shit all over your question (2)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154408)

and i would bet that one or more will be consulted (since i think that the SlashHive can't show up "on site") but the comments here will give enough info so that any SnowJobs are prevented.

Re:Dude, I don't wanna shit all over your question (1)

Mycroft-X (11435) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154420)

He knows that, he's one of them. Are you implying that Ask Slashdot isn't the place to get free advice on how to do work you're being paid for?

Re:Dude, I don't wanna shit all over your question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154698)

He knows that, he's one of them. Are you implying that Ask Slashdot isn't the place to get free advice on how to do work you're being paid for?

I thought that was Google... but I've almost never seen an Ask Slashdot that shouldn't have been an Ask Google. I mean it's not like setting up a WiFi access point is some kind of exotic unheard-of endeavor that no good information has been written about. Apparently basic research skills are on the decline in modern society...

Re:Dude, I don't wanna shit all over your question (1)

Dthief (1700318) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154834)

Apparently basic research skills are on the decline in modern society...

Just for consultants

Re:Dude, I don't wanna shit all over your question (4, Funny)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154444)

.. seems like there is an entire market of consultants ..

Yes, people hire them because they are too embarrassed to "ask slashdot" by themselves.

Re:Dude, I don't wanna shit all over your question (1)

ron_ivi (607351) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154598)

But it seems like there is an entire market of consultants whose entire job description is planning this sort of thing?

Which seems absurd as well. Why is there an entire market of consultants whose entire job it is to plan wireless access points and routers? Seems like the kind of project that you could figure out by googling and reading the docs from the wireless network equipment companies; and then checking technology websites (like slashdot) online to see if people had any feedback/reviews they wanted to give for such systems.

Re:Dude, I don't wanna shit all over your question (-1, Troll)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154684)

That sounds borderline Communist. We don't want you socialist "help you neighbor" society! If you have knowledge, you need only share it if someone pays! Yay capitalism!

/Yeah, that was trolly.

Re:Dude, I don't wanna shit all over your question (1)

hamvil (1186283) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154778)

I do this for a living and my typical hotel manager (or campus, camping, etc) would not know where to start. Maybe for many of us is easy to look for documentation troubleshoot all the quirks you can find on commodity hardware and deploy a wireless network across several floors or several building. But for many people this is not trivial even when you have the usual computer wiz as cousin. Of course you can always for a nice cisco solution with controller, the problem is these solutions are very costly and they still need trained people for setup and deployment.

Re:Dude, I don't wanna shit all over your question (3, Informative)

flosofl (626809) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154740)

It sounds like you have zero experience deploying enterprise class wireless for high traffic scenarios. It's a lot more than just plopping a couple commodity access points and hoping for the best.

You have to do a site survey to determine the best layout for the APs including equipment placement, channel patterns and power levels to maximize the best SNR against the overall cost. 2.4GHz or 5GHz or both? What are the structural barriers in place? Do you want to have blanket coverage or only cover certain areas? What level of WLAN redundancy do you want? How much should your coverage overlap? Are you bridging wirelessly? Using extended VLANs, centralizing the traffic and management? How are you handling zone handoff?

There's a lot of initial prep work that goes on before you even begin to place equipment.

Re:Dude, I don't wanna shit all over your question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154708)

And you think that half of those consultants actually know something before being hired? At least the OP seems to be doing a little research into a good solution...gotta learn sometime.

Juniper or Aruba (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154272)

Juniper's recent purchase of Trapeze gives them a pretty powerful line of wireless hardware with software to support it. One cool feature is the ability to literally draw lines based on floorplan as to where a given AP will allow a client to connect.

Then there's Aruba. They have some really great management and security features. Browse both vendor's sites and take a look at their literature. I've seen both implemented to good effect in your type of scenario.

Re:Juniper or Aruba (1)

flosofl (626809) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154796)

Motorola Solutions (the enterprise network and public safety side of the split) also makes a really good enterprise wireless solution. I like the LiveRF function you can get on some products. If you have a floor plan with AP placements, you can generate a live heat map of your coverage. If you also use their integrated WIPS/WIDS system, you can also do live spectrum analysis, wireless forensics (you can actually pick out a wireless client and watch the history as it moved throughout a location moving from AP to AP), and a bunch of other useful diagnostic tasks.

disclosure: I work for motorola solutions.

Cry. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154288)

Aside from a chain lf wireless repeaters, looks like you really need some cable. Tell the owners that its just one of those technical neccesities.

How to sell new cable to them (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154446)

if the cable is more than say 5 years old i would bet money that it is not within CURRENT building code (if its within the building code in force at the time). So now would be a good time to rip the old stuff out and rerun with new stuff (bonus if they will foot for proper cable chases and such).

Re:How to sell new cable to them (2)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154714)

An issue with older buildings that are out of code on many issues is that they can usually stay out of code until they perform $X amount of renovations. So working on redoing the cable/wi-fi might cause them to have to spend thousands on other out-of-code renovations.

Re:Cry. (0)

hamvil (1186283) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154578)

Your chain of wireless repeaters is called wireless mesh networks. People have been playing with the for the last 20 years. Now there are several solid companies with thousand of customer around the globe that provide exactly this service. So why this has to be such a complex task? And yes I did use this products both indoor and outdoor and they work fine.

Re:Cry. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154760)

"Your chain of wireless repeaters is called wireless mesh networks"

You obviously do not understand what a mesh network is, and quite possibly what a repeater is.

Re:Cry. (1)

hamvil (1186283) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154864)

And you clearly cannot distinguish between concept and implementation. A WMN uses chains of repeaters (the mesh routers) to rely a packet from end to another. At each hop a packet is received demodulated processed in order to discover its next hop and then encoded and transmitted again which is at its heart the definition of "a repeater", the you can do it at level 1 (regeneration or cooperative forwarding) , at layer 2 (switching), at L3 (routing) or at the application layer (which is what peer-to-peer networks do). The fact that it is done using WDS, or master/slave chains or using a routing daemon does not change the essence of things.

Here is what you do (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154292)

First off you need to make sure your hotel does not have a gaping security hole [clownsong.com] in its network. You can do this by making sure you have on WPA and NOT WEP. They usually have 128 bit keys. Just be prepaired to through ads and EULAs [scrollbelow.com] for the hotel network.

Re:Here is what you do (1)

Swave An deBwoner (907414) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154874)

Oh, man. Not only NSFW but an extension of the goatse image to new heights of disgustingness. You do not want to click on these links, trust me.

No Offense... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154294)

No offense... but judging by your wording, the hotel should really hire a professional. Mark my words: this will turn well for neither you nor the hotel.

Re:No Offense... (1)

tg123 (1409503) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154694)

No offense... but judging by your wording, the hotel should really hire a professional. Mark my words: this will turn well for neither you nor the hotel.

I agree this is not something you should attempt without professional advice, you have a nightmare in the making here.

Have you thought of using internet over mains wiring?

There are plug packs that that plug into a power socket and have a network connector on one end .

http://www.solwise.co.uk/net-powerline.htm [solwise.co.uk]

This would give guests close to the ease of use of a wireless network without the headaches of security concerns and wireless dropouts.
You could then set up a small wireless network for the lobby and common area.

Just make sure (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154300)

Just make sure that every client will have to run an install script that sets up the passwords and as as a bonus installs a bitcoin miner.
You'll be rich before you know it!

Re:Just make sure (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154586)

I have a million dollars in monopoly mobey, am I rich?

Same shit, different name.

Ubiquiti Unifi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154310)

Check these out as well - they have a lot of the same features that Aruba has, and also some fantastic control software that comes with it. We use it to coordinate three APs in our office and it works great... it's a solution out-of-the-box that'll suit your needs.

http://www.ubnt.com/unifi

Re:Ubiquiti Unifi (1)

axor1337 (1278448) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154604)

I prefer the Nano station my self

Re:Ubiquiti Unifi (1)

Adriax (746043) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154854)

Ooo, nice stuff. I've used Openmesh before with good success before.
Between openmesh and this unifi I might actually be able to convince the guys in charge of our physical network to upgrade to something from this century.

mesh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154336)

check mesh based networks

Re:mesh (1)

Adriax (746043) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154536)

Openmesh. Support for a public and a private network, standard encryption choices on both, coupon codes could be used to limit guest vs parking lot access. Just have to run a cable to strategic points so your bandwidth isn't completely limited by wireless speeds at the last mesh hop.

http://www.open-mesh.com/ [open-mesh.com]

Ubiquiti (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154340)

Look at Ubiquiti's stuff. It's consumer level priced, but they have some great management software.

I have a great solution. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154348)

Have you looked at Arubanetworks?

No this is not a plug, but more of an honest suggestion. There are others, but based on research out there, It seems they have a pretty strong offering in that area.

Imho

Repurpose the telephone cabling (2)

bartmanus (1239912) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154352)

100 Mbit Ethernet really requires only two twisted pairs so you might just get away with replacing the connectors on the end of the existing cable which has exactly that number of pairs! The old cable is probably not shielded at all so before jumping on this try it out with a few interconnected hotspots and load the system as best you can.

Re:Repurpose the telephone cabling (2)

forty-2 (145915) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154426)

second that, I've gotten away with using CAT3 in a pinch, but testing the longest runs is a good place to start. Hell, it might not even be the end of the world if it negotiates @ 10Mbps. Presumably there's local power @ the WAP location?
How many rooms? (or 'keys' as they say in the hospitality business)

Re:Repurpose the telephone cabling (2)

adolf (21054) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154870)

Is there any reason at all to use greater than 10 megabit Ethernet at all?

10base-T is made for Cat 3, and it's nowhere near as slow/ugly with modern gear as some of us remember from the dark old days of cheap unswitched networking. Just ratchet the port speed down to 10Mbps and call it a day (with the usual caveats about distance limits and the like).

Setting the port speed explicitly results in much more reliable communication than just expecting the NICs at either end to just figure it out for themselves, which they're generally not terribly good at doing.

If some of the lines are very long, or dedicated pairs are not available, there's other options. HPNA is one standard which can work at absurdly long distances over ruddy existing cabling and can piggyback on existing telephone and coax circuits. (Though using coax may conflict with any video-on-demand system that the hotel may already be using.)

Re:Repurpose the telephone cabling (1)

minkie (814488) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154468)

That sounds like a reasonable plan only if the existing cabling is Cat-5 or better. Most dedicated phone cabling (especially if it's more than about 10 years old) is almost certainly not Cat-5.

Re:Repurpose the telephone cabling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154526)

Cat 3 is fine if you lock your switch to 10meg ports. Should be plenty speed for guests (10/10)

Policy (4, Interesting)

Patik (584959) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154370)

The best hotel wifi experiences have been when I was given the SSID and (simple) password at check-in and, most importantly, the signal reached my room. There's nothing worse than having to go down the hall every time you want a signal, and many people will have smartphones so don't make the password 20 digits.

Bridges (1)

phrostie (121428) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154372)

Does it need to be an open Wifi or can you set up Bridges?

WMN (1)

hamvil (1186283) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154374)

Look for a cheap and reliable wireless mesh networks. Forget cisco and the other big names. Companies like meraki and aerohive will sell you the hardware as well as the management service (for a monthly fee). As an alternative you could look for somebody to deploy custom openwrt based access point with a routing daemon, e.g.: olsr [olsr.org] , batman [open-mesh.org] , wing [wing-project.org] , and many other alternatives.

Repeaters (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154378)

For a mid sized hotel you should be able to mount N class repeaters on each floor. If course that will depend on how big the floors are so you may need more than one. Ideally you would need to place the unit in the middle of the floor for maximum coverage. The network should be secured and the password should be changed regularly. This will keep the wardrivers out of your parking lot and it shouldn't be too dificult for the average end user with a laptop to find the ssid and enter the pin. You probably don't want to get some off the shelf equipment from Best Buy as you will need more power than those units are designed for. I imagine someone here could recomend a brand that would work.

Re:Repeaters (1)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154416)

Do people still wardrive? I always figured that was an early 2000s "geeky fun" activity that's long since become boring and uninteresting.

I know I wardrove a bit during the early days of wifi, but these days I find the idea kind of ridiculous and immature. :)

Re:Repeaters (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154524)

I'm not sure. It's been quite a while and free wireless is considerably more prevalent these days but who knows what these kids do today. I know what I'd be doing with that 100 mb connection though. That's good stuff.

Dear slashdot (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154384)

Please do my job for me. I am too incompetent to do it myself.

Thanks.

Re:Dear slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154452)

Please do my job for me. I am too incompetent to google it myself.

Thanks.

There, fixed it for you.

Meraki wifi mesh (2)

braddock (78796) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154388)

This is pretty much what Meraki was designed to do.

Re:Meraki wifi mesh (1)

superid (46543) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154462)

My condo association installed Meraki based wifi to service 250 condo units on at least 5 acres. I have no major complaints, other than occasionally I find a coverage dead zone.

time warner cable has a in room AP systems (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154392)

time Warner cable has in room modems / AP system for hotels that is tied to the hotel cable system. Now I don't know if comcast has them or not but if they do then all you have to do is run a cable off of the tv system to the AP spots. But that may need to have cable boxes in each room and limits on how much analog tv you can have on the system.

yea ok (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154396)

just set a coffee can around the antenna and choose which 4 rooms is going to have acceptable wifi, or sprinkle the place in apple airports

or you could just do it right the first time and be done with it

DSLAM and Auth Server (3, Interesting)

ZeroNullVoid (886675) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154398)

Setup your own DSL network using existing RJ11/Phone cabling.

You will place dsl modems in each area you want access points.

You can even have all rooms or some premium rooms with hidden away dsl modems and a network cable coming out.

You just need to setup a dslam after the modem and configure routing.

You would want a login interface so users have to accept terms and conditions.

Using the dsl method, you can setup access points at whatever strength seems secure enough wherever there is a phone connection or wiring, and you can splice the wiring if necessary.  You will need to place cheap filters on every normal phone connection, but that is a minimal cost.

You can also look at ethernet over power line, but there are lots of variables and speed issues that makes this not ideal.

Re:DSLAM and Auth Server (2)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154798)

I find your lack of fonts disturbing.

Is the telephone wiring Cat-5? (1)

IMarvinTPA (104941) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154400)

If the wiring is already Cat5, then you should be good to swap out the proprietary boxes and find the other end for the router/network closet.
If they are really telephone-grade wires, find the other ends and pull Cat5 through (by tying string/cat5 to the existing wiring.)

Whatever the right thing is, do it right the first time and the hotel will save money either fixing it or dealing with unhappy guests. It may cost more initially. Really unhappy guests don't return.

IMarv

Re:Is the telephone wiring Cat-5? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154712)

its probably cat3 which most automatically call telephone wire cause they dont know what they are doing, and they saw the same stuff punched into the pbx.
which cat 3 does make nice telephone wire, thats not why it existed originally

Large Scale Wireless Systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154404)

Typically, you first step is a frequency finder that can determine signals in your wireless range (2.4GHz - 7.2GHz).
Check the area with a walk-through all common/public areas and meeting rooms. Look for any strong signals in your range that might interfere. Your wireless units should be placed on a channel, that is the farthest in frequency from the signals that might be dirtying your airwaves. Then locate a large scale, centrally managed wireless AP provider. Ruckus Wireless is a good provider, and they offer several options for APs and Management systems. They also have some good competition, and I have used Cisco (Very $$$) and even home equipment for mid-size locations (5000-10,000 Sq Ft). Home equipment, requires massive setup and maintenance. Cisco and Ruckus and the like, require High-Level IT and Network Skills, but are very reliable. Once you have your Company chosen and Management unit set up, start with one AP per floor, in the most central location, then test coverage on that floor. If its bad at the edges, try 2 AP's per floor, one at each end. Continue this per floor, until the hotel or other location has 100% coverage. Best method for security, is a key that changes weekly and is only given out by request. Thus preventing parking lot internet leeches... Hope this helps!

stitching things together (2)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154406)

The existing APs (hidden away in proprietary encasements) seem to be connected via telephone lines and the owners have strongly indicated they would prefer that no new wiring be installed.

It's possible that running cable through the building is a nightmare. The owners may have painful memories of how things went when the last APs were installed. Talk with them and find out what went badly. There may be a better way, or maybe not.

You may be forced to do wireless repeating. This is going to make a significant increase to the cost, but that may be the only option. First thing I'd do is start scouting around to see where good spots for APs are. The current ones may have simply been spaced evenly with no signal planning/testing whatsoever. Try the roof. You may not be able to run cable around IN the building, but have NO problem getting up onto the roof, and scatter APs around above people instead of in the hallways, thus avoiding the cable running problem. (you'd also be farther from the parking lot)

Meraki Mesh networks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154414)

A few years back we use Meraki nodes http://meraki.com/ to provide internet to the downtown area of Baraboo WI. It worked surprisingly well. Basically you take ethernet to as many places as you can, then use powered wifi nodes to provide access to the other areas. All the nodes auto configure themselves as repeaters or access points, and the entire system has a awesome web interface to the whole network. It looks like their node design has changed a bit in the past few years, but it's at least worth checking out.

Done. (1)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154456)

I've done this at a small (~70 room) hotel/conference center with three Linksys WRTG54Ls, one master and two repeaters plus three sets of high gain antennas.

Re:Done. (1)

hamvil (1186283) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154632)

And if that should not prove up to the task you can always flash those routers with OpenWRT or DD-WRT and try this: wing [wing-project.org]

Use MonoWall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154460)

Use MonoWall http://m0n0.ch/wall/ as your router, to balance loads, and monitor stuff. Use your existing wire and AP's (Ethernet only uses 4 of the 8 wires anyway) and connect this all into a good 10/100/1000 switch that connects into the LAN side of your MonoWall box. Have had many multi-unit dwellings setup this way that work really well.

WiFi access points, meshing and user auth (2)

MC68040 (462186) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154470)

Hi,

Right this is only going from personal experience. At work we've bought UniFi access points.
Not to plug it overly but the roaming for clients between access points and easy provisioning system is a treat including the handling of the "guest" network with user/pass sign-on in the browser.

As far as cabling etc goes if you've got any largeish distance to cover then a simple wifi bridge should do the trick?

All of this of course depends on the amount of clients you are expecting to be online at one given time on the network. If you want to use this as an meshed network then you will obviously get a higher latency the further you go from the core node.
The above example would not be suitable for a very large hotel, and if you want to cover large outside areas then the antennas will cost a few buck not just in hardware but testing coverage / installation.

Consider EnGenius (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154488)

I've seen a real-world case of success with EnGenius access points: they are rugged, offer very strong signals even when confronted with reinforced concrete.
Last I knew, the Olympic Complex in Montreal, Canada has its wifi infrastructure based on EnGenius. They had trouble getting the signal everywhere with other brands.
That's my 2 cent worth.

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154492)

Ask Slashdot......

.... to help me do a half arsed job because I'm out of my depth.

Seriously, why not just get someone qualified and experience to do the job? :(

Think about data through lightbulbs (1)

DrD8m (307736) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154516)

Could be a solution
http://www.good.is/post/forget-wifi-it-s-lifi-internet-through-lightbulbs/

DD-WRT (1)

paulsnx2 (453081) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154540)

Get a few routers (I like Linksys), set them up as repeaters, and find strategic places to set them to get the coverage you need. Set up each with an easy to remember password (which will allow anyone "in the know" to use the network).

And you are pretty much done. If you want to do something more fancy for logging in, DD-WRT has many options. I have no personal experience with them, however.

Re:DD-WRT (1)

paulsnx2 (453081) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154556)

Grrrr.... Left out the step where you flash your routers with DD-WRT firmware (http://www.dd-wrt.com). But I guess that is obvious from the title.... I hope....

Re:DD-WRT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154824)

DD-wrt is a grate solution and easy to set up. I used 3 old garage sale linksys routers that I picked up for $5-10 to cover my house with good signal strength in all rooms and the back yard.

Ubiquity nano station is your solution (1)

axor1337 (1278448) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154544)

Ubiquity http://www.ubnt.com/ [ubnt.com] has a device called a nano station it is perfect for your needs it can share the connection using wireless over distances up to 5 miles. but the range can be limited in the device via power management. they run DD-wrt and can be configured as access point or point to point connections. I have used them for years as a network solutions provider.

Xirrus is the way to go (1)

bigBlackSabbath (462796) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154548)

Simply put, Xirrus is the brand. They make wireless arrays, which are circular enclosures containing multiple antennas. Their OS is based off of Gentoo Linux, and they support passive capture, multiple SSID's, the ability to map nodes onto a floor plan, integration with internal as well as external RADIUS servers.

Simply badass. They generally target places like schools, hotels, convention centers, etc.. We just bought a bunch at my job (a school) and they simply kick-butt. They are not cheap, but after scouting what's out there, they offer a complete solution which is super easy to maintain and operate.

sveasoft wins (1)

haemish (28576) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154566)

Check out http://sveasoft.com/ [sveasoft.com] - they have firmware loads for commodity WiFi nodes that turn them into excellent mesh's that do exactly what you want. Excellent tech, dirt cheap. Easy.

Check out these guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154592)

I work for a school and we have run Ruckus gear for a few years now and have had a lot of success. I have heard they do a lot for hotels too so it might be worth looking into. http://www.ruckuswireless.com/enterprises/hospitality

As for Xirrus, I hope they have improved, we did a test of the arrays a few years back and had nothing but problems.

Wha? (4, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154596)

As usual for "Ask Slashdot," you have left out key details that would allow people to give you meaningful responses. For example:

  1. What is the hotel using now and why does it want to replace it?
  2. What is a "proprietary encasement," and who put the APs there? Are you expected to put new APs in the same encasements? What will happen to the old APs?
  3. You say the hotel doesn't want to lay any new cable. That might just be too bad, but it also seems to imply that there is already some cable somewhere. Why not use the existing cable? You say the APs "seem to be connected by telephone wire," but you don't sound sure. Perhaps it's just long strings with tin cans at each end? Is there any way to find out?
  4. If the existing network is as strange and nonstandard as you make it sound, why is that? Was there something unique to the property that made that the best solution, and is it smart for you to ignore that?
  5. Before you begin, have you verified that the hotel's contract with Comcast actually allows it to offer Internet access to the public?
  6. You say the hotel wants to provide the network for free, so there's no need for any billing management system. Are you then comfortable with the idea that there will be no logging of the network at all, and no record of who might have used it and when? Is BitTorrent OK? How about botnets?
  7. If the patrons aren't expected to pay for the network, can they expect it to exist at all? That is, do you have a plan to test and verify that every room will have equal access to the network, and that a guest who came last summer won't return this summer and find out that the hotel doesn't seem to have WiFi anymore (when in fact it's just their new room)?
  8. Are you aware of FCC regulations regarding signal strength of your antennas, for those portions of the property that might be natural dark spots?
  9. Does your task include just replacing the network or does it also include managing the network, making repairs, etc.? How much time do you plan to devote to that?

There may be more to this job than you have considered.

Re:Wha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154764)

Mod this d00d up.

Wasn't mentioned, but are there cordless 2.4GHz phones in the rooms? may force you to 802.11a or n...What's the current implementation? How long is yours going to be planned to last? Random google search for the cheapy HP i3 lappy found that it only does B/G/N. 802.11a might not be viable in 5 years if noone's laptops support it. If you're B/G, do the 2.4GHz phones mess with signal? Do you have access to an AirMagnet to measure signal strength and can you reproduce worst-case signal cases?

While there is no billing, you still need the ability to stop unreasonable use as well.

It sounds like your bosses want cheap,fast and right all in the same package. What ability is there for you to just repurpose the existing APs (what are they btw?) and manage through SNMP or something? You still have a requirement to know when something goes down before patrons report it.

What are your current management costs and how little can you spend capex to lower the opex of managing this network.

Nothing is free, my friend. It has to paid for from somewhere. It'd be a nice notch on your belt, but in your shoes, I wouldn't want to clusterfuck it either!

captcha:stripper.

Re:Wha? (-1, Redundant)

pikine (771084) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154846)

I would appreciate that you keep quiet if you don't have anything constructive to offer. Your smart ass attitude of "let me think that straight for you" is what makes Slashdot such a painful place to hang out. If you are knowledgeable, you could still make educated assumptions to these supposedly key details and provide helpful answer. You inability to do so should not be blamed on the person asking the question. Besides, I think most of the detail you ask for are irrelevant.

What is the hotel using now and why does it want to replace it?

Why are you asking this? There is no reason you should need to know why they want to replace something.

What is a "proprietary encasement," and who put the APs there? Are you expected to put new APs in the same encasements? What will happen to the old APs? You say the hotel doesn't want to lay any new cable. That might just be too bad, but it also seems to imply that there is already some cable somewhere. Why not use the existing cable? You say the APs "seem to be connected by telephone wire," but you don't sound sure. Perhaps it's just long strings with tin cans at each end? Is there any way to find out?

I'm almost certain he means that the hotel uses leased lines (which is dedicate circuit telephone wire, not circuit switched like your typical telephone) and some sort of modem to connect the APs. There is ethernet over phone line and ethernet over coax cable adapters that he can use to avoid laying new ethernet wires. As a commentor, it is your job to mention these options, not to ask him back and blame him for not providing you with the detail.

If the existing network is as strange and nonstandard as you make it sound, why is that? Was there something unique to the property that made that the best solution, and is it smart for you to ignore that?

That is a ridiculous question from you. A building wiring is often a hack job just like how much of the programs are spaghetti code. Electricians who are good at wiring is hard to find. All you can do is to work with the mess and make it better.

Before you begin, have you verified that the hotel's contract with Comcast actually allows it to offer Internet access to the public?

He mentioned that it is 100Mbits, which is Business class Ethernet that typically requires you to work with a Comcast business representative and negotiate some form of agreement. Unless the hotel owner is falsifying his intent, I'm pretty sure the comcast representative would have brought up the use case of providing wifi to hotel customers. Besides, this is between the hotel owner and comcast. This is none of your business, really.

You say the hotel wants to provide the network for free, so there's no need for any billing management system. Are you then comfortable with the idea that there will be no logging of the network at all, and no record of who might have used it and when? Is BitTorrent OK? How about botnets?

Good that you brought it up, but why can't you answer your own questions?

If the patrons aren't expected to pay for the network, can they expect it to exist at all? That is, do you have a plan to test and verify that every room will have equal access to the network, and that a guest who came last summer won't return this summer and find out that the hotel doesn't seem to have WiFi anymore (when in fact it's just their new room)?

I'm sure they will take care of it. That's out of the scope of the original question. This is ridiculous. 802.11a/b/g/n uses unlicensed spectrum. And as long as his equipment is FCC compliant, he should not have to worry about this.

Does your task include just replacing the network or does it also include managing the network, making repairs, etc.? How much time do you plan to devote to that?

That's his business, not yours. If you offer him an option, it is up to him to ask how much maintenance effort is required of him or the hotel owner afterwards. You have not offered any options yet, so these questions cannot be asked.

Look into this perfect and proven solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154600)

You should really take a look at http://www.liveport.com. They provide a fully managed and supported mesh network. They take all support calls including helping clients configure and setup their WIFI if need be. They are also a recommended provider by many hotel chains and very cost effective.

I am not affiliated with Liveport but do use them as a client and highly recommend them.

Setup multiple cheap routers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154608)

Like the title says. Set up multiple routers with the same SSID on different channels. Make sure each channel is as far away from another router with the same channel as possible. Connect each router with its own cable. Turn off DHCP and set up a dedicated box to act as a DHCP router (I suggest Untangle, it's free and you can install it on any old computer). You can even set up caching ($5 per month) which covers large downloads and windows updates, among other stuff.

Re:Setup multiple cheap routers (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154720)

just use repeaters and you dont have to fuck with 2/3rds of that

use existing pots cabling? avoid cisco. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154628)

I can't remember the vendor, but we purchased some converters that did ethernet over a single pair of pots lines when we were doing some fiber re-routing on campus. They were very reliable.

I don't know how reliable wireless mesh is. If reliable, then may be a better (simpler) solution. All our APs (hundreds) terminate with cabled connections.

We use Cisco (airspace) stuff on campus. It took several tries of early release software to find a version that would work with the latest APs we purchased, and did not break other things. We have had a few (highly visible) issues caused by buggy cisco software. This stuff is OK, but I wouldn't feel comfortable recommending it to others.

CSU went with Aruba system-wide. Not sure what their selection criteria were, though.

Nevermind the Wi-Fi... (3, Interesting)

IonOtter (629215) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154636)

Disclosure: I work for a major service provider/telco.

Don't worry about the wi-fi system so much, there are plenty of solutions for that. Instead, worry more about the connection.

You can have the best wi-fi in the world, but if your connection is down, then you've still got a hotel full of angry customers.

Some things to consider?

1. Network diversity. If you are going to get a multi-T1 setup, then make sure you request network diversity. Yes, it costs more, but if you have all of your T1 connections riding the same sets of DS3s to your hotel, you have a single point of failure. I work with this my entire shift, every day at work. The customer bought a 6-T1 MLPPP ckt to make sure their business had enough bandwidth, but all six are riding the same DS3. The DS3 craps out and *poof*. And DS3s crapping out is dreadfully common. Also, having your circuits come to you from different central offices is also a good idea. Again, it'll cost more, but it'll be worth it when some idiot takes out a telephone pole or punches an auger down through the F2 pairs.

2. Employee training. I cannot stress this enough. Every single hotel we do business with all has one, maybe two "IT people", and everyone else in the entire hotel cannot tell the difference between a Cisco or a Black & Decker (router). And trying to find that "IT Person" at 1AM is like trying to find chicken teeth. In the meantime, I'm sitting at my desk, getting escalations from your senior management, pulling my hair out and waiting for SOMEONE on-site to pull the cable out of the RJ48X so I can test to a loop.

Teach your employees where the smartjack is located and what the lights on it mean. Teach them what the CSU/DSU is, and what the lights on that mean. Show them how to do a hard-boot (unplug-replug), how to follow the cables, how to "exercise the jack" (unplug-replug). And if you REALLY wanna give me a warm fuzzy, make a loopback plug, show them how to use it, and leave a few of them hanging on a peg in your telco room.

I know that sounds like a lot to ask from your "associates", but if I can teach a grocery store manager how to do it over the phone, you can certainly do it too.

Re:Nevermind the Wi-Fi... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154844)

Disclosure: I work for a major service provider/telco.

Don't worry about the wi-fi system so much, there are plenty of solutions for that. Instead, worry more about the connection.

You can have the best wi-fi in the world, but if your connection is down, then you've still got a hotel full of angry customers.

Some things to consider?

1. Network diversity. If you are going to get a multi-T1 setup, then make sure you request network diversity. Yes, it costs more, but if you have all of your T1 connections riding the same sets of DS3s to your hotel, you have a single point of failure. I work with this my entire shift, every day at work. The customer bought a 6-T1 MLPPP ckt to make sure their business had enough bandwidth, but all six are riding the same DS3. The DS3 craps out and *poof*. And DS3s crapping out is dreadfully common. Also, having your circuits come to you from different central offices is also a good idea. Again, it'll cost more, but it'll be worth it when some idiot takes out a telephone pole or punches an auger down through the F2 pairs.

2. Employee training. I cannot stress this enough. Every single hotel we do business with all has one, maybe two "IT people", and everyone else in the entire hotel cannot tell the difference between a Cisco or a Black & Decker (router). And trying to find that "IT Person" at 1AM is like trying to find chicken teeth. In the meantime, I'm sitting at my desk, getting escalations from your senior management, pulling my hair out and waiting for SOMEONE on-site to pull the cable out of the RJ48X so I can test to a loop.

Teach your employees where the smartjack is located and what the lights on it mean. Teach them what the CSU/DSU is, and what the lights on that mean. Show them how to do a hard-boot (unplug-replug), how to follow the cables, how to "exercise the jack" (unplug-replug). And if you REALLY wanna give me a warm fuzzy, make a loopback plug, show them how to use it, and leave a few of them hanging on a peg in your telco room.

I know that sounds like a lot to ask from your "associates", but if I can teach a grocery store manager how to do it over the phone, you can certainly do it too.

All this talk of T1 lines and CSU/DSU makes me think you're an about to be retired ma' Bell tech. Or a disgruntled as fuck consultant. The dude wants wifi in a hotel, not an ethics lesson from a begrudged line tech who thinks every frontline staff member should know how enter the comms room and powercycle specific telecom equipment based on your arrogantly stated vague description.

Yet another... (0)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154662)

Yet another Ask Slashdot that can be summarized as...

I want to do this thing, with all of it's conflicting requirements, without actually spending any money or time. Oh, and I haven't actually done any research beforehand or have any relevant experience either.

Re:Yet another... (1)

ToBeDecided (2426750) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154732)

The largest problem by far is that he did not state what kind of budget he was given. I really wanted to give him some advice, but with such vague requirements you could write a fairly large book on the subject and still not provide an adequate answer.

RTFM (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154666)

Go and learn about wireless networks, read the books associated with CWNA for instance.

Ignore the monkeys on here, i've seen about 5 or 6 people posting what I can only assume is a joke or perhaps 1just distilled ignorance, you really just need to RTFM.

This must be what it feels like to be an admin on #linux :o

They could pay a professional. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154696)

And not you. Lear how to use google, moron.

Checkbox WiFi Hotspot Router (3, Informative)

C0L0PH0N (613595) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154734)

I spent several months researching wifi hotspots for a similar installation. I settled on the Checkbox Hotspot (http://www.layerfour.net/store/index.php/checkbox.html). It is a "standalone" hotspot router, which means you put out a one time purchase price, it is not an ongoing service. In addition, you can buy "repeaters" which extend the range as far as you want, and are integrated with the main "Checkbox" hotspot router. All the software is built into the router. It gives you options to print "tickets" which can be for any period of time. They can also be preprinted, say for 1 day, a week, a month, etc, etc. You can also specify "tickets" for special events which let all computers attach using the same "code". Also, you can specify "permanent" tickets. The router locks to the MAC address of the connecting computer, and the service expires when the ticket expires. Those are the key features I was interested it, but it also has a number of other features. Definitely worth looking at. I believe the Checkbox router is a "G" series router, if that is an important issue.

Anyone else shocked (1)

eharvill (991859) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154744)

that a hotel will actually provide a decent Internet connection to its guests? I don't think I've ever stayed at a place that gave me more than 1Mbps down. I usually have to tether my droid to get a functional connection.

You left out the biggest piece of relevant info (1)

Vrtigo1 (1303147) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154750)

They already have a wifi system. Why are they replacing it?

good luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154754)

Unless you get someone who knows what they are doing, you're fucked and you're going to get your friend/relative fired or look bad because of your fuck up.

There's Wi-Fi, and there's wi-fi (1)

rah1420 (234198) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154766)

You could do like the timeshare [defenderresorts.com] did where we recently stayed at in Ocean City, MD. They boasted free wi-fi. That said, the access point was in the office and was accessible only in the office, on a small bistro-style table (and only when the office was open) or in the indoor pool next door.

Epic fail.

Density (1)

Troke (1612099) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154820)

In situations like hotels and hospitals, coverage is not that big of an issue. Client density becomes more of a concern with a 2 person room possibly having 6 devices (tablet, phone, laptop) 4 rooms can have 24 devices connected which leaves handy homeowner routers in the dust. An Aruba, Enterasys, or Meru have worked well for me in the past (with these companies doing a cloud based controller these days so you don't have to purchase the $10,000 device up front)

ChilliWave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154836)

I use Chuck Dejarnett's (of ergonomic keyboard fame) to setup tons of these apartments. http://www.chilliwave.com It has been under developement for 4 or 5 years and is at version 7.

PhyBridge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154872)

Take a look at PhyBridge. They manufacture a box that will provide ethernet+voice over an existing/installed 2-wire phone system. Data rates are 10Mbs on the current gen product, however, their newer soon-to-be-released product should tout 100Mbs.

You can also route VOIP phones on the same system. It's very easy to install. Also, quick. You could most likely install 100-200 drops inside of a weekend, eliminating downtime for your hotel guests.

No. I don't work for the company.

802.11s mesh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154884)

https://sites.google.com/a/uprm.edu/ccli/Home/testbeds-1/wireless-mesh-network-testbed-using-wrt54gl-dd-wrt-and-olsr
wpa2 enterprise and give them login pass at their arrival to hotel
  motorola sells equipment with 802.11s support out of the box, no reflashing needed. (i have no relationship with motorola)

DSL modems are your friends. (1)

DaysSinceTheDoor (805570) | more than 3 years ago | (#37154902)

Set up the hotel like a small DSL ISP. Each room has a DSL modem that connects back to the phone closet and a wifi access point. This ensures that each room has a strong signal, and it means that the hotel does not have to rewire as it will use the existing phone wiring. I have seen this setup in numerous hotels I have stayed at so I know it works.

luxul range extender (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37154914)

In our home automation business, we use Luxul range extenders to good effect. These units provide great coverage to 15,000 + square foot homes, and can extend far past the walls depending on the aiming of the antenna.

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