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Ubiquiti router and wireless access point

This is a discussion on Ubiquiti router and wireless access point within the Tech Board forums, part of the Community Boards category; Has anyone used an Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite with their UniFi AP Long Range ? What are your opinions of such ...

  1. #1
    C++ Witch laserlight's Avatar
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    Ubiquiti router and wireless access point

    Has anyone used an Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite with their UniFi AP Long Range? What are your opinions of such a combination?

    Basically, I am thinking of replacing the home consumer grade wireless router that we have been using in my office. This worked fine, but now that we have some 30+ staff with 60+ devices connected to the network, there have been endless complaints about the Internet connection being unstable, even unusable. That is rather bad news for an e-commerce company, heheh.

    One concern is that we don't have a dedicated network admin at the moment, so if the setup and configuration requires too much expert knowledge and experience, that could be a problem. I have found a rough guide for a configuration that pretty much corresponds what we have here (except that the router and the wireless AP are together), but theory and practice can differ.
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    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    Has anyone used an Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite with their UniFi AP Long Range?
    O_o

    Well, I don't have any such device, nor have I ever had access to such a commercial wireless product.

    This worked fine, but now that we have some 30+ staff with 60+ devices connected to the network, there have been endless complaints about the Internet connection being unstable, even unusable.
    That disclosed, I don't think this small number is a problem for a decent consumer grade router.

    I think your problem is, based on what I've inferred, a single consumer grade wireless access point.

    I don't think going to a commercial AP is going to buy you much if you only have one hardware access point for ~30 connections which will still be talking, I assume, over consumer grade wireless kit.

    The problem is more probably wireless band congestion due to proximity and sharing so many connections over a single radio.

    I'd advice asking if you, or someone with the relevant knowledge, could bring in a space access point to try splitting the connections.

    *shrug*

    Of course, if you don't have a real cable monkey available, you'll probably find it easier to setup the spare with a different SSID, but once you have the connections split it is a "one time setup" issue of deciding who changes the preferred SSID.

    [Edit]
    Just a matter of interest, my consumer grade router handles about ~12 outgoing wireless connections just fine as a router, but I've had to install two extra hardware access points, both also consumer grade, to prevent wireless drops from the same devices.
    [/Edit]

    Soma
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    C++まいる!Cをこわせ! Elysia's Avatar
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    The 2.4 GHz band is typically very congested, too, resulting in poor connections or speeds. You could try to sniff the vicinity to see how many APs there are and how they overlap. If they overlap a lot, perhaps moving to the 5 GHz band might improve the connections (if you aren't using it already). It might be worth a try.
    I only know how to sniff with android, though, but I'm pretty sure there should exist software on other operating systems too...
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    C++ Witch laserlight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomotap
    That disclosed, I don't think this small number is a problem for a decent consumer grade router.

    I think your problem is, based on what I've inferred, a single consumer grade wireless access point.

    I don't think going to a commercial AP is going to buy you much if you only have one hardware access point for ~30 connections which will still be talking, I assume, over consumer grade wireless kit.
    Ah, yes, the single consumer grade wireless AP is the wireless router itself, which is connected to a switch for the wired connections. The thing is, we have been getting complaints from people with wired connections too, and in fact I am one of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by phantomotap
    The problem is more probably wireless band congestion due to proximity and sharing so many connections over a single radio.
    Quote Originally Posted by Elysia
    The 2.4 GHz band is typically very congested, too, resulting in poor connections or speeds. You could try to sniff the vicinity to see how many APs there are and how they overlap. If they overlap a lot, perhaps moving to the 5 GHz band might improve the connections (if you aren't using it already). It might be worth a try.
    Thanks. Wouldn't adding another wireless AP increase wireless band congestion?
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    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    The thing is, we have been getting complaints from people with wired connections too, and in fact I am one of them.
    O_o

    Well, certainly you may have a bad router, but a bad router is just a bad router. Certainly if the company has the income, a commercial grade router will not put you wrong unless you just get marvelously unlucky to get another bad router.

    That said, you didn't say anything about the current router so I can't speculate on the odds of it being a bad product or crap firmware.

    *shrug*

    Well, I don't know what to tell you. I don't know what the company finances look like, haven't used the product you asked about, and don't have access to the building to do my own tests. I'll tell you one thing I would try for certain before considering new kit: disable the wireless radios in the router and throw every wired connection at it for a few hours. You'll have a strong indication on which side the problem lives.

    Wouldn't adding another wireless AP increase wireless band congestion?
    That's kind of a complicated question to answer as it depends on the hardware.

    My assumption, and also the one Elysia apparently reasons under, is that the consumer grade kit is... consumer grade.

    A lot of consumer grade kit can't handle multiple channels properly over a single radio even pushing frequency width. If your kit is ".11g" you have 11--if I recall--channels available so adding different kit which could operate on its channel or channels could ease congestion over those channels for which each access point is responsible even though background radiation and overall wireless traffic would remain the same. This plays to the nature of how radio works in general, but with only two or three access points you can choose slices of the available frequency range which do not overlap making the communication over those radios more isolated despite the use of multiple radios.

    This is, ultimately, the reason behind what Elysia suggest as the ".11a" kit, operating at 5gHz, is far less crowded. You still have the same number of local communication, radios, and so on, but the access points will not have to deal with as much stuff in target frequency as is common to the ".11g" range.

    The congested frequency is exactly why I have three access points in my home. I have dozens of "Bluetooth" devices thanks to my family being gamers. (You have the game controllers, wireless headsets, wireless audio decks and such similar kit.) I also have several devices that connect over ".11g". The "Bluetooth" kit and my ".11g" kit operate over the same frequency. (My hardline telephones are also 2.4 gHz radios.) I also have neighbors near enough with other junk. The frequency is crowded, but the connections in my home have been rock solid since I added the last access point. That wasn't true a few years ago when the room nearest my neighbors was a wireless black hole.

    *shrug*

    Your mileage may vary as you probably work in an office complex of some sort.

    Soma

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    C++まいる!Cをこわせ! Elysia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomotap View Post
    This is, ultimately, the reason behind what Elysia suggest as the ".11a" kit, operating at 5gHz, is far less crowded. You still have the same number of local communication, radios, and so on, but the access points will not have to deal with as much stuff in target frequency as is common to the ".11g" range.
    Except that my assumption is that everyone uses 802.11n these days, which can operate on both 2.4 an 5 GHz
    Or, if you're feeling fancy, 802.11ac which isn't finished yet which operates solely on 5 GHz. But then you'd probably have to invest in a lot of equipment because your clients probably do not support it out of the box...
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    You mean it's included as a crutch to help ancient programmers limp along without them having to relearn too much.

    Outside of your DOS world, your header file is meaningless.
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    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    everyone uses 802.11n these days
    O_o

    I wish.

    I got bitten by the incompatible firmware between "DLink" and others; I purchased about $1000 (USD) of ".11n" equipment only to find out the ".11g" (irreplaceable kit with no means of update) slice of the firmware was basically garbage wearing a hat.

    I've been in no mood whatsoever to try moving back to ".11n".

    Soma

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    C++ Witch laserlight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomotap
    Well, certainly you may have a bad router, but a bad router is just a bad router. Certainly if the company has the income, a commercial grade router will not put you wrong unless you just get marvelously unlucky to get another bad router.

    That said, you didn't say anything about the current router so I can't speculate on the odds of it being a bad product or crap firmware.
    Ahem. One of my colleagues just reminded me that the previous company router went bust and the current router is the personal property of the CEO (a spare he dug up from somewhere in his house), so by right we have to replace it sooner or later anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by phantomotap
    I'll tell you one thing I would try for certain before considering new kit: disable the wireless radios in the router and throw every wired connection at it for a few hours. You'll have a strong indication on which side the problem lives.
    Hmm... but even without disabling wireless, wouldn't the currently observed problems with the wired connections already indicate that the problem is at router level, not (only) with the integrated wireless AP? I get that isolating it would make it more obvious, but it seems like overkill, heh. (Okay, I admit: I don't really want to do tests over the weekend... tomorrow is a public holiday here.)

    Quote Originally Posted by phantomotap
    This plays to the nature of how radio works in general, but with only two or three access points you can choose slices of the available frequency range which do not overlap making the communication over those radios more isolated despite the use of multiple radios.
    Right.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elysia
    Or, if you're feeling fancy, 802.11ac which isn't finished yet which operates solely on 5 GHz. But then you'd probably have to invest in a lot of equipment because your clients probably do not support it out of the box...
    Yeah, that is not feasible at the moment.
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    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    O_o

    Full confession: I was not the Cable Monkey-in-Chief; I was the junior.

    I did hit the "CMnC" on IRC for: $#*#@!@#*$%!@*$% consumer routers.

    I think his vote is you spending the money on a new commercial router. ^_^;

    Soma

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    C++ Witch laserlight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomotap
    I think his vote is you spending the money on a new commercial router. ^_^;
    Yeah, tech geeks like spending money on tech, especially when it is not our own money
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    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    Ninja'd!

    Hmm... but even without disabling wireless, wouldn't the currently observed problems with the wired connections already indicate that the problem is at router level, not (only) with the integrated wireless AP?
    I think you misunderstood part of the suggest, at least from me.

    I was thinking it was likely a system/firmware issue, so yes router proper, with the switch side having problems, but I kind of think that because the firmware may be responsible for doing the routing and wireless stuff.

    O_o

    Well, let me put that a different way: I'm assuming it is average consumer kit so no dedicated ".11?" implementation and switching hardware just a generic "SOC" or similar doing work for both sides of the hub and reference wireless radio.

    I do have just normal consumer wireless stuff, and one of the access points pulls duty as a router, but I don't use it as a switch at all. I have a commercial switch doing the heavy lifting on the wired side of the LAN.

    Soma

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    I have built similar networks, but it's been years since the last one. So, I'm not really a network guy, but I did once have practical experience

    If you use more than one wired port on any access point or modem, expect poor performance.

    Most wireless access points and modems that have multiple wired ports have truly horrible switching capabilities, even if the ports are claimed to be gigabit. Packet rates are low, and maximum bandwidth over all ports is rarely more than what a single port can sustain.

    El-cheapo unmanaged switch use off-the-shelf chips that can switch 5 to 8 gigabit ports at full speed and maximum packet rates. Of course, you'd still need a router/firewall (between the internet and the LAN), and if you need to segregate internal traffic you'll need a more complex topology.

    Here's my suggestion using consumer-grade stuff:
    Code:
    Internet
        │
    ┌───┴────┐
    │ Router │
    └──╥────┬┘  ┌─────────────────┐
       ║    └───┤ Access point(s) │
       ║        └─────────────────┘
       ║        ┌───────────┐
       ║    ╔═══╡ Server(s) │
    ┌──╨────╨┐  └───────────┘
    │ Switch │
    └──┬─┬─┬─┘
       │ │ │
       │ │ │
       │ │ │
    Wired workstations
    If your internet connection relies on a modem, you can use that as the router, if it has the necessary firewall and routing capabilities.

    Local traffic that crosses only the dumb switch is very fast, but is unfiltered. (This means, local server access and access between workstations is very fast, but unfiltered and unmonitored.)

    Only traffic to/from internet or wireless access points cross the router. In both cases the router is needed to filter the traffic anyway. Since major traffic (like file server access) never reaches the router, the router is not overburdened, and does not limit traffic speeds.

    Access points should be connected to the router, so that the router can limit and filter the wireless access to the internal network.

    The double lines show where the most traffic flows. You might wish to monitor the traffic rates there, and trunk multiple ports together to get faster speeds if these become the bottleneck.

    If you wanted to segregate traffic -- say, bean counters demand that their traffic is not visible at all to other machines (a common requirement in government offices here), you simply add another dumb switch to the router. Just remember, traffic over a dumb switch is not filtered (and machines connected to the same dumb switch and spoof each other without the router knowing about it).

    If you don't need traffic segregation, but have something like two dozen wired machines, just make sure your dumb switch has the necessary switching capability.

    While a suitable dumb 8-port gigabit switch only costs about 30 here, 16 to 24-port ones cost about 150 to 200. Larger ones tend to be managed (have routing capabilities), and I'd expect to have to pay 500-600 for a good 48-port gigabit switch.
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