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Planning for Wireless AP Deployment

Updated: December 19, 2008

Applies To: Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2

After the required network infrastructure services supporting your wireless local area network are in place, you can begin the design process for the location of the wireless access points (APs).

Following are the topic included in this section for planning the deployment of your wireless APs.

After determining where to locate APs, you need to make additional decisions about how you will deploy the APs. These decisions affect the types of equipment required, and how the equipment will be installed.

A plenum area is the space between the ceiling of one level of a building and the floor of the level above. If you place your APs in the plenum area, you must determine the best method for powering the APs. Consult with the AP manufacturer to determine how to meet the power requirements for the APs. Some wireless APs can receive electrical power through the Ethernet cable.

The plenum area is regulated by fire codes. Therefore, for plenum placement, you must purchase APs that are fire-rated.

Preconfiguring the APs before installing them on location can speed up the deployment process and can save labor costs, because less skilled workers can perform the physical installation. You can preconfigure APs by using the console port (serial port), Telnet, or a Web server that is integrated with the AP. If you will use a terminal server for console configuration of APs, decide where to locate the terminal server. Regardless of whether you decide to preconfigure the APs, make sure that you can access them remotely, particularly if you deploy many APs. This enables you to configure or upgrade the APs remotely by using scripts.

The terminal server can be located on the same subnet as the APs, or elsewhere.

It is helpful to physically locate the terminal server in the same wiring closet as the hub or patch panel connecting the APs. With this arrangement, you can pull together the Ethernet and console (serial) wires at the same time. This is only possible if the wires are run to and from the same place. You can then complete the configuration of many APs from a central location.

For example, in a building with multiple floors, an omnidirectional antenna — which propagates the signal equally in all directions except the vertical — might work best. For information about which type of antenna will work best for your WLAN deployment, see the documentation for your APs.

In order to configure wireless APs as Remote Authentication Dial-in User Service (RADIUS) clients, all wireless APs must support the IEEE standard for 802.1X authentication. Additionally, for wireless transmission security reasons, all wireless APs must support either Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2)-Enterprise, or WPA-Enterprise. WPA2-Enterprise is preferred over WPA-Enterprise.

An enterprise corporation learned that mounting its APs in the plenum area would resolve some of the issues raised during their pilot test of their wireless network deployment.

For example, users often disconnected data and power cables from the APs in order to plug their portable computers into the network. The unavailable APs prompted many service calls to the help desk.

In addition, the IT staff found that by mounting APs in the plenum area, they can install APs in doorways and halls, avoiding users’ offices. Though the initial installation cost was higher, they believe the placement will pay off in the long term in decreased user interference during working hours.

The enterprise corporation worked closely with the manufacturer of the APs to ensure that all procedures were followed and that the wireless APs were fire-rated for plenum placement.

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