1801W: Number of users supported

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Oct 27th, 2009
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Our project team shares a single 8M ADSL connection installed on the customer site so that we can receive corporate e-mail etc. Large downloads are not normally required and the bandwidth seems to be perfectly acceptable for the sixty-or-so team members.


We access this by means of a "home" wireless router (not Cisco) which struggles to maintain so many connections (its documentation says it can cope with up to 100 users, but is ideal for 10). What happens is that users are sporadically disconnected from the wireless and often cannot reconnect - at least can't get an IP address - for sometimes as long as an hour - even though the wireless signal is fine. The router is set up to provide 250 addresses through DHCP, so the scope isn't running short.


I've been tasked with finding a suitable replacement router, and the Cisco 1801W seems to me to be about right - however, I can't find anything which tells me how many users should be able to be maintained on this platform. It would be embarrassing for our company to provide a new router which had exactly the same problems as the old one.


Can anyone help?

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jeromehenry_2 Tue, 10/27/2009 - 04:22
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This might not be a direct answer to your question but... did you check your wireless space before deciding to change the router?

If your issue is "too many users on the same wireless router/AP", it may be that beyond a certain number of users, say 20 to 25, there is not enough space for more users in the wireless space. The result is that there are too many collisions and users get disconnected. Changing the router/AP will not change that problem.

I would start by doing a packet capture on the wireless space, using something like wireshark, and look for retries... then I would probably add a new access point connected to the same router, on another channel (same SSID), to create more space on the wireless side...

Just a thought...

Leo Laohoo Tue, 10/27/2009 - 14:38
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Consider a wireless AP as a large water cooler with the tap open. Consider users trying to get their fill of the water. You won't get much.


If there are over 100 users being serviced by the AP, you need to consider more than 1 AP. Cisco recommends the ideal ratio of an AP to users as 1:25. The AP can service more but you're sacrificing bandwidth to go with it.


Before you go and buy anything to support your issue, get a wireless site survey done. This will help you understand and identify WHERE to deploy your APs, how many APs, and what particular model of AP is suitable.


Hope this helps.

huw.morgan Wed, 10/28/2009 - 09:20
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Thanks for your responses. There's no way we can have wireless survey done - this is a very quick and dirty solution that's only temporary.


I tried Wireshark, but I couldn't get any of the wireless messages - I suppose my laptop adaptor is preventing me seeing that stuff.


I'll see if I can find a spare AP from somewhere and see if that works.

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