Combine a fast, managed, commercial grade router that can be configured as a gateway, firewall, and VPN server with a commercial WiFi access point that handles both 5 GHz and 2.4GHz bands, a/b/g/n and ac WiFi standards, with MIMO channeling and what do you have?
An Amazing Network!
Ubiquiti networking hardware is not for everyone. It is normally used by networking professionals with demanding commercial requirements. And, without question, it takes time to learn how to configure powerful networking gear. Once this bridge is crossed, the benefits are amazing!
If your networking requirements demand a reliable, powerful, wired / wireless network that can handle the most demanding consumer households or commercial deployments without breaking the bank you should seriously review Ubiquiti routers and wireless access points (http://ubnt.com). To hopefully save you some time with configuration, I will continue to add to this post to detail our working configuration that supports the many wired & wireless devices in our Smart Home. Our cave in Silicon Valley is a busy, demanding, high tech environment that has overloaded and crashed some of the best consumer grade routers available.
The torture team in our Smart Home, is a loving family of experienced users that demand high-tech “work properly, every day, concurrently”. Anything less is noted as pond scum and returned.
Just how busy is the network in the high-tech cave?
Provided are a few details of what our network is expected to handle. To some, our clan will have to many network attached devices. To others, your cave may have an even larger number of devices.
Our high-tech view is “everything should have an App and be connected to our network for easy access to improve the function and safety of every device”.
Our network demands don’t match a busy computer convention but who has ever been pleased with the network service at a computer convention? 🙂
Our cave supports streaming HD video and audio to multiple TV’s & Roku’s from IPTV, Netflix’s and Amazon Video & Music. A Homerun unit provides network access to OTA channels. A Slingbox offers internal & remote access to a number of video sources. Internet services are provided to multiple tablets, laptops, and desktops. A shared scanner, printer and NAS units are available on the network to each tablet, cellphone, laptop and desktop. Alarm monitoring, cameras, light switches, outlets, and thermostat are accessed via the network. WiFi cellphone service via Google Fi is used. Multiple VoIP phone lines, video conferencing, fax over IP, and IPSec VPN tunneling are used daily. Multiple websites are hosted including this blog. Supporting equipment for shared device storage and backups is active on the network.
Perhaps, your network is even busier! Do you have a solution to share? Please use the “Contact Us” link located at the top of this page.
After crashing numerous, brand name, consumer grade routers, with solid ratings, (a future blog post), our clan set out to find a solution. Our goals were to find a wired / wireless solution that could handle our high-tech cave network load with five years of expected growth. Provide exceptional reliability. Advanced firewall and security support. And, priced competitive with higher-end consumer grade wired / wireless routers.
We investigated and tested a number of consumer grade router that worked well part of the time. When heavier loads occurred, these routers became unreliable (detailed results in a future post).
In Silicon Valley, used commercial networking equipment is available. Excellent deals can be had on very expensive gear that is designed for use in a data center. We had solid results using older Cisco and Juniper gear but family members in the cave complained about increased fan noise, heat, flashing lights, size and power usage. OMG, please, can we just focus on function over form!
If members of your clan are more forgiving, older Cisco and Juniper managed gateways and firewalls are an excellent option and need a new home. They could provide many happy years of routing and heat in the cave.
While searching for smaller, quiet, Cisco and Juniper managed gateways and firewalls, and not finding anything in the desired price range, I found devices in the right price range and specs from Netgate, Pfsense, and Ubiquiti. Each company offers hardware and software targeted at the open source community. And, commercial offerings which provide hardware, software and support.
Of course, open source hardware is less and software is free. The fully supported platform is more. By using a stable open source software level, (that is deployed in the commercial offering), and purchasing hardware (also used in the commercial offering), Netgate, Pfsense and Ubiquiti are able to sell hardware for much less and gain free product testing from community members that want to be on the latest level of open source software.
Stay tuned for our findings and configuration information for Ubiquiti EdgeRouter PoE 5 and UniFi AP AC.