Follow-up on Meru

Our meeting with the Meru reps went well, and we’ll likely sign off on a controller and ten access points this summer. Eight will go into the Middle School, and two will go into the Upper School.

A clarification: we won’t be using their high-end “wireless switch” device for super-high density environments. That device puts four APs into one box with a setup that enabled all channels (and even splitting protocols). Cool technology, but overkill for us.

Instead, we’re using their controlled system that will put all eight APs in the Middle School on the same channel, and to the client laptops all APs will simply look like one AP. The controller for the APs handles all the load balancing and transfers of clients, so that all the time normally spent by laptops picking and choosing APs is saved.

The controller also “time splices” bandwidth to clients, which increases bandwidth and enables the APs to max out at around 128 clients instead of the normal 20. If 128 were really on the same AP, service would slow down, and APs can even be set to max out and relay clients to other APs at a lower number of max connections.

As for MAC address authentication, the controller handles it, so that once a laptop is authenticated by MAC address in the building, it’s good for all the APs in the building handled by the controller.

The controller we’re buying can support up to 15 APs, and that can be extended to 30 APs by changing the licensing for the unit. It can also controll APs in different buildings, such as the 2 APs we will put in the highest density area in the Upper School.

As for mixing Meru APs with our existing Apple APs, the client laptops should pass between them with no problem. All APs will still have the same SSID.

If this works as planned, we’ll add another 10-20 APs next year in other buildings, which will be managed by our first controller.

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