I need to support between 50 and 100 simultaneous wireless clients that use a wide variety of devices, from smartphones to laptops, and the primary network load is full-screen streaming video. My current intention is to use up to 3 access points on non-overlapping channels that use the same SSID, WPA2 config, etc. The APs and the media server are on a wired gigabit LAN.

However, since the coverage area is relatively small and the population density is very high (similar to a crowded cafeteria), the access points will likely be co-located. Even if separated from each other as much as possible, the difference in signal strength between the access points will be negligible.

If at all possible, I want to be able to use the same SSID for each AP, however most of the articles and recommendations I have read related to the use of multiple APs leave it to the client devices/drivers to decide when to roam to another AP, and my understanding is the driver decides this based solely on signal strength.

What should I be searching for (keyword, protocol, etc) in order to find out how to set up access points that are able to load balance based on their individual network utilization, or the bandwidth usage by associated clients? By load balance, I mean the APs themselves initiate a "forced-roam", bumping clients from an AP with more load to another AP with less load, if there is such a thing. If this capability exists with DD-WRT or OpenWRT, that would be my target.

I would appreciate any suggestions or recommendations, thanks!

  • DD-WRT and OpenWRT are OSes for consumer-grade devices which are off-topic here. You probably want to use a wireless LAN controller and compatible WAPs to do the sorts of things you have described.
    – Ron Maupin
    Jan 4 '16 at 2:18
  • Also, is your streaming video multicast? That would certainly reduce the network load.
    – Ron Maupin
    Jan 4 '16 at 2:20
  • The media server is basically just a web server (apache2) serving up video files on demand, so no multicast unfortunately. Users connect to wifi, web traffic is redirected to the server where they can make video selections, or install VLC. The "streaming" is accomplished by using VLC on the client side, which does a pretty good job with http and ftp URIs, especially on Android devices. VLC is fairly common, and is the only scenario I will be supporting. My testing setup works well with 20 users (real people), but the target is 200, with 50+ simultaneous during peak times.
    – pipe2null
    Jan 4 '16 at 7:23
  • ..also product recommendation requests are off-topic. Jan 10 '16 at 18:09

You must use a controller based system for this. Multiple autonomous access-points are completely independent -- "roaming" doesn't happen; clients disassociate with one AP and associate with a new one. Roaming requires information be exchanged between APs. That means a wireless lan controller.

The best way to deploy this is via a number of sector antennas that divide the room into a series of pie slices. (this is how some ubiquiti APs do it.) The other common method is ceiling mounted "cones". (DirecTV "spot beams" on a much smaller scale.)

Don't listen to Ron. Multicast is suicide. In wireless, multicast is broadcast. As such, it's transmit at basic rate -- which is the common rate that can be reliably received by every client associated with the AP. That crappy tablet with a complete s*** radio on the far end of the cafeteria drags the entire network down to 1.1Mbps. Many APs allow tweaking of the basic-rates, but that will significantly reduce the usable range of the AP but not reduce the actual signal range. (you'd just be making a much noisier environment.)

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