Today, I will be comparing the features of different access points. It is advisable to purchase access points from the same manufacturer to ensure compatibility and easy setup. To manage multiple wireless access points, it is recommended to use a wireless controller for a managed wireless network. Before buying any access points, ensure you check with the manufacturer for available options for managing your wireless network. Some brands like Meraki offer cloud-based management tools, which require a monthly subscription fee. However, brands like Ubiquiti and TP-Link offer a wide variety of access points and software to manage them without any monthly licensing subscriptions.
We have three dedicated access points to compare. Let’s begin with the TP-Link TL-WA3001 and the Ubiquiti U6+. Both devices have similar support for WiFi standard (6) and wireless connection throughput. They’re ideal for smaller offices, are cost-effective, and provide excellent coverage when placed centrally. They’re perfect for internet connections up to 1Gb. However, when comparing Ubiquiti U6+ with U6 Enterprise, we see that the former supports 4×4 MIMO’s, has a 2.5Gb network port, and supports 6GHz. These additional features enable internet speeds beyond 1Gb, making your network future-proof. Maybe.
|WiFi6 (2×2 MIMO)
|WiFi6 (4×4 MIMO)
|(1) GbE RJ45 port
|(1) GbE RJ45 port
|(1) 2.5GbE RJ45 port
The next wave of Wireless Access Points will feature WiFi Generation 7, which has even more bandwidth. These access points are being served by Multiple 2.5Gb Ethernet connections, allowing for theoretical speeds of 5Gbps.
To ensure effective wireless coverage, it’s important to consider the specific area you’re targeting. You can check out access points from Ubiquity and TP-Link that are designed for different spaces. They offer access points that are ideal for long-range coverage and outdoor use. Long-range access points are effective in providing coverage for larger spaces while outdoor-rated access points can be used to extend wireless coverage to parking lots and backyard spaces.
There are “In-Wall” access points available from multiple vendors, but they do not actually mount inside the wall. Instead, they mount to an electrical box in a vertical position, unlike traditional access points that are mounted horizontally on the ceiling. In-Wall access points have two notable features that I appreciate. Firstly, many offices already have network jacks at floor level, so discrete and often hidden In-Wall access points can use the existing wiring without the need to re-route wires to the ceiling for traditional access points. Secondly, these access points often have small network switches built-in, which allow users to connect multiple wired devices directly to the wired network in addition to providing wireless capabilities. By utilizing a single wire from your network switch, you can power the access point and also provide three or more network jacks for wired devices. These access points are ideal for home offices and media centers where you may have a desktop computer or gaming console that can be hard-wired using a single cable running through the wall.
|U6 Enterprise In-Wall
|WiFi6 (4×4 MIMO)
|WiFi6E (4×4 MIMO)
|(1) GbE uplink
(4) GbE Downlink
|(1) 2.5GbE Uplink
(4) GbE Downlink-(1) PoE output
|(1) 1GbE Uplink
(3) 1GbE Downlink
When setting up wireless networks, it’s important to consider several NSA Best Practices. Firstly, we should use the most recent versions of WPA2 or WPA3 network security to secure our network. Secondly, we should create separate guest and IoT networks to maintain device segregation.
As previously stated, if you have a wireless network with more than one access point, I suggest using a wireless controller for easier management. TP-Link and Ubiquiti both provide wireless controllers that come integrated with some of their routers, or can be purchased separately. Their software can also be installed on a desktop, server, or Raspberry Pi. Next week we will set up a new wireless network on a Raspberry Pi, with UniFi, and Ubiquiti access points.