Managed Wireless Networks
Wireless networks are becomming increasingly important in people’s day to day lives. Gone are the days when you needed wireless in one room to simply send the occasional email. Now most households have a number or smart phones, tablets, laptops which are used to control all manner of systems.
You may wish to browse a movie on Netflix or adjust your heating settings from your iPad. Maybe you heard a noise at night and need to quickly check the CCTV on your iPhone.
What you don’t want to do is to have to have trouble logging on to a wireless access point or have your network disappear when in certain parts of the house.
Multiple Access points
Because wireless accesspoints have limited range, it is often necessary to put multiple units in to cover a property. The easiest and most cost effective way of doing this is to simply put multiple access points in.
For convenience sake, many IT professionals suggest using a single SSID (Wireless Network name) with a single password. That way, only one network shows up and you do not have to keep re-entering your password as you move around. However, there is a problem with this. Many devices, including iPhones, ipads and Android machines will hang onto the access point (AP) they originally connect to, for as long as possible. This means that if you walk from the kitchen to the study, your phone will not disconnect from the kitchen access point and reconnect to the study AP until the signal is completely gone. As a result, you may be sitting next to an AP but showing very week signal (and getting a very poor connection).
A second problem lies with diagniosing problems. Say you hve three access points around your home and the network lead becomes disconnected from one of them. Since this still has power, it will show up and your laptop will be able to connect to it but it will not have a network connection. Because there is only one SSID, you will not be able to easily identify the rogue AP.
One solution is to rename your APs to give each one a different SSID. That way if you move to the kitchen, you can then select the Study SSID and thus get a better connection. However, it your devices will still not automatically connect to a better signal and you will need to put your password in for each SSID (the first time you connect).
Managed Wireless Networks
A managed wireless network (MWN) uses a number of APs plus a management appliance or Zone Director (ZD). The ZD is set up with one or more SSIDs. You could have HOME and GUEST as two separate SSIDs. Anyone connecting to home would be able to connect to everything on the network (computers, servers, printers and the internet) but GUEST would only provide access to the outside world for collecting emails or browsing the web. The kids could even have their own SSID which is automatically switched off at bedtime!
MWNs are also much cleverer than that. To your iPhone or laptop, they appear as a single AP but as you approach an AP with a stronger signal, they will disconnect from one and seemlessly handover to the next. You will not notice your connection dropping at all. You may be able to see the signal getting a bit wealer then building up again as it approaches a second AP. If you are watching an IP CCTV camera, they will be no break as the APs handover from one to the next.
What is more, we design MWN with enough capacity to have at least two APs covering all areas. If an AP fails, the ZD will detect this and increase the power of the exisiting APs to cover the area of the missing AP. The ZD will then send an email to our support team, so we can schedule a vist to rectify the unit.
As I touched upon above, you can have multiple SSIDs within a MWN. Different users can have different access privilidges. Also, as well as having a simple password, you can have a ticket system. That way a contractor or other visitor would see a web page login screen. When they enter the password from a ticket they have been provided with, they will get access for a limited time.
Contact us to see how we may be able to help you create a fast, reiable, secure wireless network.