New Wireless Internet (WiFi)
You may have noticed an improvement to the club’s wireless internet performance in 2020. This is due to a significant overhaul of the entire network at the club.
There are now 3 access points located throughout the property, placed to provide optimal signal to members in the club house, pavilion and on the pool deck. Good performance has observed all the way to the tennis courts, fire pit, and to the northwestern edge of the property.
Prior to 2020, all network equipment was located on a shelf behind the lobby front desk. This installation was less than visually appealing, as a mass of equipment and loose wiring. Given the opportunity afforded by the basement re-build, it was decided that a sheet of 4×4 3/4″ plywood would be installed as a central installation point for all network equipment.
After some discussion, it was decided to go with an all Ubiquiti solution, as an ideal combination of performance, cost and future maintainability.
A Ubiquiti EdgeRouter X was chosen for its reputation as a low-cost ($50) router capable of sustaining up to 1 Gbps of traffic (ensuring it would not be a system bottleneck for future expansion).
The switch is an 8-port managed Ubiquiti US-8-60W, capable of providing power over ethernet (PoE) to 4 of its ports. All three UniFi Long-Range (LR) 802.11ac dual-band access points (APs) on the property are centrally powered by this switch. As future expansion needs dictate, this switch may be re-used elsewhere.
The club house access point (AP) was installed first. Using existing conduit in the building (previously used for phone lines), a network cable (Cat 5e) was run from the basement to the ceiling above the lobby.
Thanks to foresight by the individuals overseeing the construction of the pavilion, a network cable (Cat 5e) was already present from the clubhouse to near the attic access of the pavilion. This made installation of the pavilion AP a snap.
Initially, the AP on the pump house was configured to act as a “repeater”, linked to the AP on the pavilion. This, however, came with three downsides: a) reduced bandwidth (performance) for users connected to either AP, b) reduced redundancy, in the event of a single-point failure, and c) the lack of battery backup for the pump house AP.
It became apparent that new wire would need to be pulled from the clubhouse to the pump house. Over the course of several weeks, the existing underground 1/2″ PVC (previously installed for the PA speaker on the pump house) was located and portions were dug-up and cut. The existing #12 AWG speaker cable, found to be heavily damaged in some areas, was removed and replaced with Belden 6300UE #18 AWG (plenty sufficient for the new 70 V audio system). A parallel network cable was pulled (Cat 5e). Both cables junction into the club house attic, then travel down the aforementioned conduit to the basement.
For the sake of familiarity, the new (primary) wireless network shares the same identifier (referred to as an “SSID“) as the old, “fairwayfarms”. The password is posted within the club, and is subject to change annually.
Additional SSIDs (along with private VLANs) for IoT devices, cameras, VoIP phones and administration have been set up for network security and future expansion.
Getting a little more technical…
Each access point has been configured to operate on its own channels to avoid overlaps (i.e. 1, 6 and 11 for 2.4 GHz and 44, 149 and 159 for 5.0 GHz). Channel widths of HT20 and VHT40 have been selected for the 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz to maximize device compatibility, minimize channel overlap and provide good operating bandwidth (“Internet speed”).
Channels were assigned to individual APs to minimize congestion – but given the proximity to nearby homes, the club is in a very active area (especially in the 2.4 GHz band).
Transmit power for each AP has been reduced from its rated maximum for three reasons:
- To better balance the capabilities of handheld devices. There is no sense in transmitting at “high” power if the responding device (i.e. a mobile phone) cannot. Communication is, after all, a two-way operation. An imbalance could result in a device indicating it has good signal – but the result is poor connectivity (slow operation, dropped connections).
- To better manage hand-off between APs. A user on the pool deck will connect to one of the three APs (this is handled automatically). By reducing the power, the signal overlap is less, and their device will have an easier time maintaining a connection to the nearest AP (example: the pavilion vs. the pump house).
- To be a better neighbor. We don’t need to add to the congestion of our neighbors’ networks if slightly lower power provides the coverage necessary.
As of the time of writing this article, no full site survey has been performed. But anecdotal evidence suggests a good operating balance has been established.
- 3 x Ubiquiti UniFi Long-Range Access Points
- Dual-Band Operation: 5 GHz (up to 867 Mbps) and 2.4 GHz (up to 450 Mbps)
- Up to 183 meter (600 ft) Range
- Ubiquiti EdgeRouter X (up to 1 Gbps performance)
- Ubiquiti UniFi 8-Port Switch
- APC Smart-UPS 1500 (SMC1500-2UC) Battery Backup
- Hellermann Tyton Cat 5e 24-port Patch Panel
- Panduit Cable Management