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Have a background in computer software, but do not have any formal training in networking and hardware.

We got a quote from a local IT company that is more than we are able to pay.

  • They want $900 each for two of these: Aironet 2600
  • Then another $1000 for installation

The total would be $2,915

There are about 30 people who normally work in the office, plus more people come in for conferences sometimes and need wifi. The advantage of these enterprise access points is that they are supposed to work together in such a way that people can move around the office and their connection will seamlessly jump from one to the other.

Was wondering if it would be feasible for us to order the equipment ourselves and then for me to come in and install it?

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  • 1
    what kind of user authentiation is included in the quoted service? if it is not wpa psk then you should consider an apples to apples service comparison very carrefully Jun 2 '13 at 3:22
  • Did any answer help you? If so, you should accept the answer so that the question doesn't keep popping up forever, looking for an answer. Alternatively, you can post and accept your own answer.
    – Ron Maupin
    Jan 3 at 6:13
8

Yes, it is feasible to install them yourself. I would not consider it reasonable to pay someone else $1000 to install two wireless access points. There is a learning curve but with a little time and effort you can learn enough to install these yourself.

Have a read:

Aironet 2600 Getting Started Guide

Aironet 2600 Deployment Guide

Configuration Example

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    All depends on what is included in the $1k for installation. If this involves a predictive survey, cabling, mounting, configuration/tuning, and a site survey to validate the design, then $1k is very cheap.
    – YLearn
    May 31 '13 at 17:17
7

Is it feasible?

Yes.

Is it a good idea?

TL;DR: No.

That depends on the exact details of the installation (configuring the devices, physically installing, power, cabling, etc) and the unique wireless aspects (transmission, interference, coverage, etc) of the installation. You should be able to figure out everything as you go along. On the other hand, if you run into something tricky, you'll be looking at significant time to figure it out.

In terms of cost, they should be able to do the installation in fewer hours than you. (Simply because you have to figure it out and then do it.) So unless your hourly "value" is much lower, their $1,000 will actually cost your company less. That may not be an issue if your company considers this something that is part of your job -- but then, as you say, you're not qualified (in the traditional, "experienced in it" meaning,) to do this work.

So the real question is to balance the hard cost against the risk/gain. A $1,000 cost in support of 30-or-so people is trivial. Unless there's a reason (in your company's opinion) for you to learn the material, I don't see any direct benefit to your doing the work.

5

It is feasible to install your own access points. Keep in mind that installing/configuring most enterprise wireless solutions is not as easy as installing a consumer device at home.

Consumer devices are meant to be installed by people with very little knowledge, whereas enterprise gear is meant to be installed by someone knowledgeable, and the options/configuration can be a bit overwhelming. If you do make mistakes, it can be more costly to bring someone in to fix it after the fact (I know, as I am often one of those people - and I don't know everything about wireless).

However, you don't detail what is involved in the $1k installation. If this includes cabling, configuration, and a site survey to validate deployment, then take it and run as $1k can be very inexpensive (and you have someone to blame if there are troubles).

You might consider other options as well, especially since it doesn't sound like you have a network/wireless person on staff. For instance, I think Meraki (recently purchased by Cisco) could be a good fit as it provides a relatively simple wireless deployment which is also designed to be easy to administer, although it has it's drawbacks as well. You could also look into Aruba, Aerohive, Ruckus, and Ubiquiti Networks...each has various strengths and weaknesses.

3

To do a quick install that will almost certainly work fine for 30 people? Definitely yes.

To do a fully proper install, site survey, etc? Probably not. However for 30 people in a small office with two Autonomous APs, this is more likely overkill.

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  • Yeah, make sure you give that as the reason when the President/CEO's office and/or conference room has crappy wireless. At the very least, even with small deployments, you should be doing a survey with a tool like inSSIDer to validate deployment.
    – YLearn
    Jun 1 '13 at 13:45
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    I've done 50 deployments in our company, most of our offices are 1-2 AP areas. Never had an issue with placement. For plant floor deployments, with a lot of heavy machinery and melters, we then do surveys. Never had an issue with coverage or speed. Jun 1 '13 at 14:21
  • Just because sloppy work hasn't resulted in a problem doesn't mean it isn't still sloppy work and it isn't going to come back and bite you later. At the very least, you should be using a simple tool (like I posted) to validate a deployment, ESPECIALLY if you are being paid to do the work.
    – YLearn
    Jun 1 '13 at 14:37
  • I wouldn't consider it sloppy in a small office with 1-2 APs. The guy isn't being paid to do it, he isn't the contractor - he asked if he could handle the install on his own. Jun 1 '13 at 14:42
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    Not everyone has the time to do a survey or the money to pay a consultant. I will concede that a walkthrough with a laptop or cell phone is in order, but I don't consider this to be a survey. Jun 1 '13 at 15:09
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I've done large scale wireless deployments and while that figure that you were provided is completely not out of the ballpark for 2 AP's and labor, you (and your superiors) need to ask if you have the time (which often equates to MONEY) to spend learning how to setup and install these AP's.

I remember back when I first learning how to deploy wireless networks, design considerations were much different than traditional ethernet network and I myself had several stumbling blocks along the way. I would suggest showing these comments/responses from everyone here and then discuss the pros/cons of such a deployment by yourself or by an outside vendor.

Some of the pros of doing it yourself:

1: Less money up front (as you don't have to pay a consultant) 2: You gain some knowledge that you didn't already have!

Some of the cons of doing it yourself:

1: Longer deployment (which does equal money as you have to spend time away from other tasks) 2: Security issues with the final deployment could potentially cause Layer 2 breaches out in the parking lot of your building if your not careful

Some of the pros of hiring a consultant:

1: You get to spend your time on your projects 2: The wireless project will most likely get done in a day or less given the amount of AP's to be installed 3: The wireless network (should be) will be as secure as your wired network

Some of the cons of hiring a consultant:

1: Cost! 2: They often setup and run with very little knowledge transfer (not all do this I know...)

Often you will find that it is easier to bring someone in to install these systems in less time than yourself, but I would make sure that in the contract that they provide some form of knowledge transfer on how to not only access the wireless network but how to administer it on a basic level.

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