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I have a client in a horrible building. It's like a big steel building filled with critters that are constantly eating the network lines. It seems like every 2-4 years they have to entirely rewire the building after a network meltdown. I'd like to never rewire the building again. How viable is this now?

I've heard the bandwidth on AC may be good enough to replace the hardwired lines with AC routers.

Now I'm just going to ask for recommendations on AC routers, as well as how many users you believe they can support and the range you are getting from them. Or am I crazy and it's just time to feed the critters again with new network wires?

  • You mention the building has lots of steel. This will dramatically decrease wifi performance. You may need to add one or two access point per floor to get it working, but in theory WiFi can be solely used to replace wired connections when done properly. – LPChip Sep 3 '16 at 16:04
  • It is a metal shell building like a warehouse. Would that still be detrimental for internal use? – Pug Sep 3 '16 at 16:06
  • It will likely have lots of metal in its construction too, including walls and floors. they'll jam the signal. As long as the wifi signal does not have to travel through a wall or floor, the signal will not degrade that much. – LPChip Sep 3 '16 at 16:09
  • better conduit might be cheaper. – Tetsujin Sep 3 '16 at 17:14
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Can wifi replace hardwired networking?

What are your performance requirements?

According to this Cicso document:

802.11ac, the emerging standard from the IEEE, is like the movie The Godfather Part II. It takes something great and makes it even better. 802.11ac is a faster and more scalable version of 802.11n. It couples the freedom of wireless with the capabilities of Gigabit Ethernet.

... first-wave 802.11ac products built around 80 MHz and delivering up to 433 Mbps (low end), 867 Mbps (mid-tier), or 1300 Mbps (high end) at the physical layer. Second-wave products may promise still more channel bonding and spatial streams, with plausible product configurations operating at up to 3.47 Gbps. ...

One wonders how much those "high end products" cost. And they'll get you - under ideal conditions - close to gigabit Ethernet speeds, and maybe a bit more in the future.

Of course, 10 gbit Ethernet NICs are now $30...

And that's under ideal conditions. FWIW, in the real world I routinely get 20-50 times better bandwidth on gigabit Ethernet than on 802.11n.

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  • I am seeing speeds between 50-130 GBS reported. Honestly if the network lines didn't keep failing it would be better, but since they do I have to seriously consider that wifi may work better for this company. – Pug Sep 3 '16 at 15:38
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Based on my research about real life use (reported speeds via router reviews) it seems like we can expect speeds ranging from 50mbs to 300+ mbps. So I'd say yes, wireless can replace wired. I'd be surprised if a single user was using more then 50 mbps even "heavy" applications only run about 5mbps.

In addition, with range extenders we should be able to form a reliable wifi network coverage. The reported range of the ac routers I’ve been researching (high end) have been up to half an acre.

The advantage to the new AC wireless standard is that all devices will be connected at their max level(depending on location) thru to a max possible speed in excess of 300 mbs. Traditional Routers send to only one device at a time, where AC routers with MU-MIMO can send to multiple devices at once, making sure that all devices are connected at their max speeds and reducing the likelihood of disconnects.

Best to move slow on this, as it seems that at the cutting end of technology the chances of getting a lemon router are much higher.

So I'd say Premium buy this one (unless you need the addn'l features of a business router) I’ve done significant research and it seems that Linksys currently has the fastest router available. And I’m sure the ability to remotely reboot the router will come in handy. http://www.linksys.com/us/p/P-EA9500/

However reviews indicate that a lemon is a fairly high likelihood about 1 in 10. There are also business versions. However I’m not sure that they offer much to us beyond what the consumer version does. Cost is high at $338.58.

Netgear. Their R8500 is the latest, and at $365 Reviews also indicate about 1 in 10 is a lemon.

ASUS: RT-AC5300 is their flagship about 1 in 5 failure rate. $376

Value option: TP-Link: Archer C5400 http://www.tp-link.us/products/details/cat-5506_Archer-C5400.html $250 No failures, but in some cases only providing the low end of 50 mbs instead of the higher 300+ mbs that are achieved on other routers. I’m never used this company before, but just researching the top tier routers makes me more likely to buy them in the future. Some users report HUGE range gains. Some routers have shipped without the MU-MIMO. It will require a firmware update in these cases.

Dlink: Discliamer: I normally use these guys. $369 about 1 in 4 failure rate. These guys were last to the party just releasing their flagship.

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  • We are going with the TP-Link. I should mention it did in fact have 1 failure but it was so quickly replaced by their customer service dept that they still gave the router a 5 star review. – Pug Sep 3 '16 at 18:55

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