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Upgrading WiFi in my ward buildings

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Upgrading WiFi in my ward buildings

#1Postby sphester » Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:39 pm

Hi All

We have a number of buildings that have very old WiFi installtions. These are single Cisco access points using the wirless b standard. In most cases the units can't provide full building coverage and are very slow.

Additionally these units are still using the older Cisco PIC501 firewalls.

My FM group has confirmed that presently there is little chance of these being upgrade until all the UK broadband role out has been finished. They have said possibly this year maybe next year but have no idea on the times scales.

Can I do the upgrades myself see below?

I work in data networks and I would be happy to do the upgrades. I know the GSC can do the configuration of the devices remotely so all I needs is the equipment and some cable and then my time.

How can I get hold of the newer Cisco 800W routers? And would there be a cost involved in replacing the older PIC501? i.e. would the stake have to buy them I can't see them on the LDS Store.

How can I get replacement Cisco WiFi access points? And additional ones to provide full building coverage? Who fund the cost of these.

Can we as a stake buy our own equipment?

I'm sure this must be possible. I have seen a number of posts were members in the USA seem to be doing much of the installation and specification of the kit they want to put in at a local stake level. Some have even done full Cat5 cabling to wall mounted network points. Here in the UK we have just been told its WiFi all round and know that this is the preferred method of access as every MLS pc has been given a WiFi dongle for this very purpose.

Any clue, tips or advise on who I can contact to get this kit and then move it forward would be great.

Thanks in advance.

Simon
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#2Postby aebrown » Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:49 pm

A brief explanation of the policies regarding networking equipment can be found on the wiki at Meetinghouse Internet policies and guidelines.

Basically the answers to your questions are:

  • You can install the equipment yourself with approval from the FM group.
    • But you can't buy the equipment yourself.
  • Only the FM group can purchase the new Cisco 881W routers and access points. They purchase them through a mechanism that is not available to stakes.

  • There is no cost to the stake for any of this networking hardware -- the FM group pays for it all.
    • But that means you also are constrained by your FM group's budget for new or upgraded networking hardware.
  • The 881W firewall is a wireless device, but many buildings will need additional WAPs to cover the whole building. The FM group can obtain Cisco 1041 WAPs as needed to get proper coverage.
    • As with all networking hardware, the FM group pays for WAPs, but that means you're constrained by their budget.
Many questions are already answered on the LDSTech wiki. Check it out!
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#3Postby rbeede » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:31 pm

The stake president can authorize the usage of stake funds. If the FM group doesn't have the budget, and the stake president has a need now for wireless then he may choose to do so. With his authorization you could work with the FM group and cut them a check from the stake funds to cover the costs of the equipment (they have to order the equipment and cutting a check would require the stake president to make arrangements with the local area office so the FM group can do this). Another option is to have the stake president contact the area office to get the FM group funds now.

Your other option is to consider only upgrading say the stake center and buying the necessary hardware elsewhere. If you wish for CHQ (GSC) to manage the equipment you could purchase the same model (Cisco 1041N) and configure it yourself, but this is discouraged as it is a lot more work and difficult if you aren't familiar with Cisco's hardware. It requires extra work to get the proper configuration setup from SLC so they can manage it for you.

As for the firewall you can use the 1041N wireless APs with it and wait on the 881W. As for wireless you can get the stake president's authorization to buy the non-Cisco stuff (say a consumer router or what have you), but CHQ GSC won't support it and the FM group won't pay for it. It can be a useful stop-gap for say 1 stake center if funding won't come from the FM group anytime this year.

You also want to avoid costs with replacing equipment because it is tithing money that is used to do so. Most buildings have an ISP connection that is slower than 802.11b (11mbps) anyway. Restricting wireless use to just the bishopric and clerks usually works best in those limited bandwidth situations. My preference would be to update the stake center and wait on wards later.

I'd recommend having the stake president contact the area office with a specific number of devices needed and wanted (nice to have) along with the FM group's estimate of cost. That will save stake funds for other purposes.
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#4Postby rbeede » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:37 pm

Also of note is that the 1041n's have fallen into back order recently so it may take a few months after ordering to get any in.
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#5Postby sphester » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:39 pm

Thanks for the info.

Looks like its back to my FM with a nice begging letter to see if they have room in the budget to buy the equipment and let me install it. In reality I actually only need the newer access points the older PIC501 firewalls seem to work fine the weak link in the chain has always been the range and and quality of the WiFi signal.
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#6Postby simonawright » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:41 pm

rbeede wrote:The stake president can authorize the usage of stake funds. If the FM group doesn't have the budget, and the stake president has a need now for wireless then he may choose to do so. With his authorization you could work with the FM group and cut them a check from the stake funds to cover the costs of the equipment (they have to order the equipment and cutting a check would require the stake president to make arrangements with the local area office so the FM group can do this). Another option is to have the stake president contact the area office to get the FM group funds now.


As you are in the UK the funds would normally be transferred by the local office rather than sending a cheque. This would still need to be authorised by your Stake President and the FM group. If it is all approved then the local office will be able to let you know how to sort the finances.
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#7Postby sphester » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:55 pm

Just seen your post rbeede. Thanks for that additional info.

I take on board your point about the 11mbps speed and the ADSL line speed on the b standard but hopefully the newer standard should give me better range also.

In fact I am interested to see if the GSC might be able to firmware the units to a revision that allows the g standard to be used. They have previously told me that the Cisco Aironet 1100 unit we use in our stake can only do b yet when I have done some searching on google it seems to say they are b and g devices. Maybe newer ones only had b but it is worth an e-mail to GSC to check ask the question.
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#8Postby jdlessley » Tue Mar 20, 2012 4:46 pm

sphester wrote:In fact I am interested to see if the GSC might be able to firmware the units to a revision that allows the g standard to be used.
It isn't firmware that needs to be changed. It is the radio unit. While some Cisco WAPs have modular radios some do not. Upgrading a radio from 802.11b to 802.11b/g may cost nearly two thirds the cost of a new 1041N WAP.

sphester wrote:They have previously told me that the Cisco Aironet 1100 unit we use in our stake can only do b yet when I have done some searching on google it seems to say they are b and g devices.
Both statements are correct. The Cisco Aironet 1100 is configurable for different radios. But to go from just a 802.11b radio to a 802.11b/g radio requires swapping out the radio.
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#9Postby sphester » Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:10 am

Thanks for that info on the Aironet 1100 it was worth a try as in know with some of kit a firmware upgrade can help.

Thinking about the problem this morning in reality the only real issue I have presently is getting the internet in to the chapel so a computer can be used to view our stake conference webcast. Unfortunately my focus has primarly been getting WiFi to work but from reading some posts on here some say its better anyway to use a hard wire connection via cat5 for such events. With this in mind perhaps the easiest thing for me to do is get agreement for the FM to buy me some cat5e cable £50 for 300 meters and 4 wall mounted network sockets i can then run a socket to the place were they will hook up a Laptop and there is no need for WiFi yet.
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#10Postby sphester » Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:24 am

Just got this back from the GSC regarding the 1100 aironets.

[font="]"Hello,

Regarding with you inquiry with the 1100S Access Points, we advise that you replace them with the standard 1041s. The GSC does not support the 1100s and we assume that you have found out that it doesnt work with the 881W firewalls.

Please replace them with the 1041s asap. they are available at the church e-market"
[/font]

Feel like I'm stuck between a hard place and rock. The GSC says they are not support replace them ASAP yet the FM can't or won't possibly due to budget conditions. If the units really are not supported then surely the FM has a duty to replace them.

Perhaps as suggested the stake president needs to raise it with the Area office to see if they can make the funds available to the FM to do this work. Iether that or it going to be the cat5 suggestion above and in any case the FM has to spend some money and do something so we can get this to work for our stake.
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