Wi-Fi is good, but ordinary. Office practice of Ruckus


    Home vs Professional

    Well-known solutions of the manufacturer of WiFi equipment RuckusWireless for high-performance networks with support for roaming and a load of more than 100 clients per access point. On the manufacturer’s website, you can see examples of the implementation of such networks from hundreds and even thousands of access points. But does it make sense to use Ruckus equipment (from $ 500 per point in MSRP prices) in networks consisting of several access points, or can such simpler solutions be used in such tasks? Today we want to give a small example showing the difference between carrier-class systems and less expensive, so to speak, household solutions.


    One of our partners was faced with the task of deploying a small radio network. The network was intended for access to the Internet of co-working clients — co-working independent employees working in the same room and using the same infrastructure. It was planned to accommodate 75-100 subscribers with traffic typical of an office worker. The network did not provide for the transmission of voice data or access to large databases. Since the load seemed insignificant to the client, he decided to limit himself to the use of an inexpensive solution based on WiFi equipment Unifi , believing that such a small implementation would be affordable for this solution.

    Object of coverage: office, or rather a large open-plan hall (open space), an area of ​​350 square meters. m., as well as a meeting room of 30 square meters. m, plus 100 square meters. m of outdoor area next to the building.

    Building plan and equipment location

    Based on the planned load - up to 30 people per device, the network was built on 5 Unifi access points and a software controller of the 2nd version. Network authorization scheme: fixed key authorization. Capacity for the client was planned in the region of 2 Mbit / s with maximum traffic and 10 Mbit / s with a small number of connections. Central authentication is not used.

    The deployment of the network was not difficult, as was its operation under a load of several clients, however, as the number of connections increased, the picture changed significantly.

    First of all, the unequal division of the bandwidth affected - when setting the menu to 10 Mbps, with a large number of connections, the bandwidth was divided unevenly, one client received full speed, the other had low speed and long pings. In reality, it turned out that, with the planned number of connections, the Unifi controller limits the speed to 2 Mbit / s per client, while even within such limitations, the speed was unstable and constantly “floated”.

    Particularly unpleasant was the fact that the users who were the least demanding of traffic suffered at the same time. For example, downloading data on torrent protocols by few users made the quality of Skype communications unacceptable, and browsing the Internet was uncomfortable for all users. Even with the introduction of limiter traffic on the access point, customers continued to complain about high delays, and even 2 Mbps was clearly not enough to work with modern data volumes.

    The next problem was roaming between access points. Although most clients did not move around the premises, client devices periodically made decisions to switch to another access point due to changes in signal levels and retries on the air, and switching occurred with a half-second disconnection.

    Network problems are unpleasant in themselves, but even more unpleasant was the lack of extensive documentation on the system and manufacturer support. By the way, even in Ubiquiti they could not solve the problem either. It became clear that for a commercial implementation, you should not choose a solution that is supported practically only on the forum, where your question may simply not be answered, advise you to wait for the new version of the controller, offer to plan the capacity and channels, that is, perform work instead the controller.

    Due to the unstable operation of the network, it was decided to rebuild it using Ruckus Wireless equipment. The equipment used was ZoneFlex model 7363 access points , a middle-class device from the manufacturer’s point of view:


    Access Point ZF7363

    Technically and externally similar to Unifi point: 2 MIMO streams, 300 Mbps channel speed, however, it has two radio modules and, unlike its competitor, an adaptive antenna. Also used was the ZoneDirector 1106 controller , the younger series, with support for 6 access points and the ability to expand to 50 access points by installing additional licenses.


    ZD1100 series controller

    The controller's tasks are roaming clients between access points without breaking connections, fair customer service in terms of base station operating time and radio scheduling function.

    The use of Ruckus equipment allowed us to solve network problems with stability and performance. The customer service mechanism with a fair distribution of time among active customers allowed us not to use traffic limitation, thus ensuring optimal network performance and a high rate of oversubscription in bandwidth.


    Relatively even distribution of spectrum and traffic

    The average bandwidth per user at a typical load increased from 1-2 Mbps to 8-11 Mbps, it became possible to use audio / video communication in a stable mode. The key distribution mechanism allowed for an inextricable user handover, without breaking the connection. The adaptive antenna significantly increased the noise immunity of the network and the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), which positively affected both the network performance and the percentage of retries.

    Currently, the network has more than 100 active devices, the traffic is about 30-50 Mbit / s.


    Typical number of users


    Radio network traffic

    Conclusions:

    Using the example of building even a small WiFi network, we were able to see how important the functionality and performance of access points, and their joint work with the controller, to ensure stable operation of the network. Equally important was the technical support of the equipment. Therefore, we have no doubt that in the case of the commercial use of the network or its organization to provide critical or socially important services, it is necessary to use carrier-class solutions.

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