We are normally a WISP and very familiar with the ePMP line. We've been asked to provide WiFi to a 64 unit "U" shaped 4 story apartment building. Our initial plan was to run CAT5 dedicated into each unit but that is proving to be impossible due to some construction concerns. So, we have started looking at putting APs on the underside of the balcony's around the building.
I have experience with Ruckus products but they are too costly for this project. I also have experience with UniFi but I've had issues with it in the past. I am not as familiar with cnPilot product line. I use cnMaestro to manage our ePMP products and we do have one test wifi AP we have used on it before so I am a little familiar with how to build wifi templates.
Thoughts on using the e500 line for this type of project? I am hesitant to use WiFi since I have less control over how people access it. Can I do a single SSID for the building but assign a different password to each unit so I can both track usage / devices and keep the single password from getting to too many neighbors? I need it to be simple for users to get on with multiple devices, TVs, etc but really hate to have a blanket password.
Lastly, if (when) we have apartments with poor reception in some rooms, our thought to fix this is to mesh an AP inside the apartment that connects out to the closest hallway AP but improves signal in the apartment without having to run cable. I know the limitations of meshing but is there a Cambium product that will allow that?
Sorry for some likely very basic questions but our expertise is PtMP outdoor...
Great idea. I have forwarded this to our support and applications teams. I am also sending it to some folks who have done this before.
Thanks! I’ve been looking into Radius AAA to help solve the password issue but I have not come across a radius solution that works well with IOT devices, Amazon Alexa, Google Hub, TVs, etc. They want an SSID and password… Really love some advice!
I’ve done installs like that in the past, but today’s hardware is so much better then what I had, I will not comment on the RF side of the question.
The other side of the problem was guest access control. The GoZone Marketing4Wifi platform has all the connection options that you're asking about to limit access to residents and to track individual resident usage. We have a voucher module that sounds like it would be perfect for your scenario https://support.smartwifiplatform.com/knowledge-base/vouchers/
Since there’s a captive portal element, WiFi enabled appliances could not attach to that SSID, but he could setup a separate network for those type of devices and he could charge separately per MAC address for that value-added service.
Hope this helps!
Regarding your question around passwords I would look into EPSKs from Cambium. This gives each user a unique password all under one SSID.
In addition you can assign each EPSK into a dedicated VLAN. Each occupant of the apartment would have their own EPSK (password). This means that all occupants would be able to talk to their own devices as they will share a VLAN but would not able to access their neighbors devices as they would be on a different VLAN.
The E500 APs support meshing and for indoor APs you could also use the E410 which again support meshing. As you say though mesh has it’s limitations.
One consern I have is the placement of APs. Firstly you want to make sure you can get sufficient signal through the walls into the apartments. But as the APs are all outside of the building they will likely be able to hear other and this could cause a lot of self interference.
I get the self interference but we would control the airwaves. If we do hardline to each apartment, we have 30+ apartments each with thier own wifi router creating 30+ opportunities for interference. Sure, not our gear, but our tech support problem for "slow internet" due to wifi congestion the residents caused. If I install 6 - 8 APs around the buiding, I now can control power output and frequencies and can hopefully reduce interference.
This building needs some on site testing with a couple APs to see how bad the walls are for RF interference before we decide this is the answer. The apartment owner wants 50 Mbps delivered. I think that is doable with wall attenuation.
In regards to ePSK, this is incredible! Just got done reading the post on it and it just about solves every issue for us. One feature request I posted on that post as well:
We use Sonar for our ISP billing and do a bunch of Option 82 stuff to track MAC addresses & IPs to customers. In MDUs that are hardwired, we put the MAC address of the switch port as an inventory item for the customer so no matter what device they plug into the connection from us, it gets tracked back to them using Option 82 on the router with a DHCP batcher script.
In the ePSK world, I'd like to create an ePSK "user" for each apartment number. In the MAC address field, I'd rather enter a MAC address from the private reserved pool and then option 82 that MAC so any device that uses that sPSK password gets that MAC associated to it as the "Remote Agent ID" in option 82. Now, I can add the privae MAC to Sonar to that customer and any phone, computer, TV, iot device, etc they use will show up in Sonar with the IP address it grabbed using option 82. We do all the DHCP batcher scripting on the back side but if the "MAC Address" field in ePSK could be used in Option 82 instead of just restricting a single MAC (or add an additional "Option 82 MAC" field to the ePSK entry that wrote itself as the "Remtoe Agent ID" for every deivce, this would really be incredible.
Another thought regarding RF management, you could use the E501S APs (these use 90/120 directional antennas). If placed on the outside of the building pointing inwards this would likely reduce the WLANs self interference compared to the E500 AP with it's omni directional antenna.