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Setting up a wide area Wi-Fi network

Setting up a wide area Wi-Fi network

We’ve been asked by a number of clients how they can improve their Wi-Fi, to give them better coverage over their office premises. There are a few ways this can be achieved, including wireless boosters, but we’ve found mesh networking to be the most successful option.

What is Mesh Networking?

An example mesh - each green dot is a node

An example mesh – each green dot is a node

The system we’ve been deploying for clients is based around a system called Open Mesh. Each physical mesh device is called a ‘node’. These nodes create a local wireless access point which is accessible by computers and other devices. They also communicate with the other nodes on a dedicated 5Ghz channel. Each node will build up a link with every other node it can find nearby. This means that if a device fails, the network still works and can route traffic. This is the ‘mesh’.

What are the benefits of this method?

The Open Mesh devices can be controlled via an online website, Cloudtrax.com

This enables us, and our clients, to view and administer the network. If a node drops offline, there is the option to be alerted via e-mail so that someone can investigate.

The system is very robust, and makes it easy to cover a wide area with a single Wi-Fi network. This means that the end-user doesn’t need to keep switching between different network names (SSIDs).

If you expand your office space, just add more nodes to expand your network to cover the extra space.

We’ve found the mesh network technology covers dead-spots much better than wireless boosters or extenders. It’s also very powerful, so by having a multi-node network you can overcome issues with congestion caused by neighboring office wireless networks.

The Open Mesh software that is built into the nodes allows for the set-up of a separate guest network, which has no access to your main LAN. This guest network only gives access to the internet, solving the need for many businesses to be able to offer their staff or guests wireless access to the internet without compromising the security of their main corporate network.

The system also allows you to set-up a paid hot-spot type system, which is perfect for hospitality based situations where you want to raise revenue from wireless internet access. We’ve had direct experience of setting up paid Wi-Fi hotspots, so if this is something you’re looking at then we can provide consultancy or the equipment on a revenue-sharing basis.

How large an area can be covered by a Mesh Network?

We’ve covered offices that span multiple buildings using this technology, but it can do much more. It’s capable of covering entire caravan parks, marinas, hotels and large open sites. In any areas where the coverage is patchy, extra nodes can be added to span the network into that area.

How much does it cost?

There is no on-going cost to use the CloudTrax system, which allows the management and configuration of the networks. Each cloud networking device (node) currently costs approx. £70.

There are different types of nodes available, which may be needed for certain types of set-up. For an accurate quote, it’s best to contact us with your requirements as we can design the network specifically to accomplish your needs.


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