I get no commissions, no payments, for these endorsements. I’ve just been through SO MUCH PAIN getting this right that I want to save others from the journey I’ve been on.
Unifi is hands down the best value on the market today (I included prices below), PLUS the easiest to set up and configure of the commercial-grade options. I’ve been able to teach relatively non-technical teammates and members how to do basic on-premises diagnostics, which is pretty crucial when you’ve got that many people coming through any wifi enabled environment on their own devices of all kinds.
You don’t have to buy through a fancy distributor - you can buy online (Amazon has them available next day shipping in the US, YMMV). There’s no additional software or licensing fees. The closest comparable options (Meraki) cost a lot more per device, PLUS annual fee just for their cloud management software. Unifi has their own (free) cloud management software that you can either run on your own cloud hosting (on a $5-10/month server) OR using the “cloud key” device, which I recommend after recently switching to it from managing the software on AWS.
That’s a lot of wins, and they managed to tick every box.
For the configuration you described (which sounds about right for your space), here’s what I’d do. All of my product links are to US Amazon pages (no affiliate links), but you can search out the same model numbers elsewhere:
3x Access points - Unifi AP Pro. $486 USD. These are good for ~30-40 simultaneous devices each. Without knowing your space layout and materials, 3 of these is very likely enough for 90 concurrent devices. These devices are fast, too. There are more hardcore versions that handle more throughput (and cost more $$$), but for coworking usage I’d rather just point high-bandwidth users to plugging into ethernet.
- **1x Router - **Unifi Security Gateway. $113 USD. There’s a pro version of this, but it’d be overkill for you. We’re running this exact device to support 3x as many people as you’ll ever have on your network and it’s super fast and reliable. Best router I’ve ever owned.
1x Switch for ethernet - Unifi 16 port PoE switch. $298 USD. This switch is managed (I’l get more into that in a second) AND provides Power over Ethernet, which means that your access points won’t need a separate power source. You just plug them into the ethernet, and then the ethernet into the switch. Boom, power.
*Note: I don’t know how many hard lines you plan to run for your space but you might want to consider the 24 port version of this, considering that you’ll lose 3 ports to your access points and 1 more to the router, bringing you down from 16 to just 12 usable ports before you even get started. 11 ports if you go with the Cloud Key (which you should). Alternatively, it’s easy to start here and add a second switch later. *
1x Unifi Cloud Key. $76 USD. This is basically the “brain” for the whole setup. **
That’s less than $1000 USD for the most robust network you can possibly install for anywhere near that price point. As you grow, you only need to add switches and access points as needed.
Now, the Cloud Key is the magic, and here’s why: it’s basically a tiny computer that JUST runs the Unifi controller software, and is powered by the PoE on your network. It handles software/firmware updates with a click of a button. And best of all, you can link (for free) to a Unifi cloud account that gives you access to diagnostics, reporting, and even tools to configure and fix network issues from anywhere…including on your mobile phone. It’s amazing.
It all works because all of the access points look back to the Cloud Key controller software for instructions and configuration. The Cloud Key makes real time adjustments to wifi performance based on usage and environment conditions. Basically, with the brain behind the devices, it “just works” better than ANY network I’ve maintained, coworking or otherwise. And when something is wrong (which is going to happen with any network, but is more rare with Unifi than any other setup we’ve tried), the diagnostics tools are great.
The controller also handles things like captive portal and guest networks. It can hook into RADIUS servers for authentication, if you need it. It has robust firewall configuration options if you need it. It does VLANs very easily. It does simple traffic shaping (one check box for improved performance for everybody). And the controller has a robust API for reading stats and configurations, if you want to get fancy and build your own tools. It probably does more than you’ll EVER need it to do, to be honest.
The setup can be a bit of a learning curve if you’re not familiar with networking…but if you are familiar with networking it’s easy to learn. My background is in computer networks so 100% of what I know about Unifi I learned through reading forums and watching youtube videos. If that’s not you, Unifi is a big enough name that you should be able to find a local network consultant who can help you get things set up and potentially offer a monitoring/support service as well.
Hope this helps anybody trying to figure this out for the first time, and anybody frustrated with (or sick of paying out the nose for!) with your network.
P.S. Coworking Membership Platforms: has anybody built a direct integration with the Unifi’s captive portal? If you’re interested in doing so, hit me up. I have notes for you
I’m a huge, huge, huge fan of Unifi: https://unifi-sdn.ubnt.com
On Tue, Mar 20, 2018 at 7:29 AM, Ramesh Agarwal <notag…@gmail.com> wrote:
New to the group but I saw similar posts earlier and hence posting.
I am setting up a 2000 sqft space in Bangalore and I am lost trying to get an optimum WiFi solutions for the space. The space can accommodate a max of 45 people so I am thinking a total of 90 Wifi devices (laptops and phones) will hook on to the network. I intend to put 3 access points, a router and a switch (have about 16 ports of LAN) to run the network. If I can get recommendations on the equipment to use that would be really appreciated.
Also there are some managed WiFi solutions that are available ( http://griggi.com/) but would like to get feedback on the usefulness of such solutions and feedback if anyone is using it.
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