Q

Where is a cheap wireless access solution requiring no administration/support?

Learn what wireless access solutions are available to provide guest and student access, for little money and almost no administration or support in this expert response.

I'm looking to assist a (very) small college overseas. They would like to offer wireless access in two flavors: Guest access to do basic surfing and email access directly to the Web, and then Student access that might be able to connect to some rudimentary systems in the campus library.

There is no full-time IT person on staff, and therefore nobody to provide support -- especially to campus visitors. It would be acceptable to just create one login for each type of access, to simplify administration, yet change passwords regularly to keep "access now" from becoming "access forever."

If something like SSL VPN would be the easiest answer, I may be able to cobble a machine together for that. I have experience using such systems, yet none in setting them up. What would seem to be the best approach for absolutely minimal money, yet nearly no administration or support?

The answer to this question is actually quite straight forward. The first requirement you would look for in a wireless access point is to support multiple SSIDs on the same access point. Both Juniper and Cisco have wireless access points that provide at least dual (most are four) SSID configurations on a single device.

I am not sure about the amount of money you wish to spend but the Juniper NetScreen 5GT and Cisco Aironet 1000 both provide the flexibility that you would require in the campus environment with dual SSID support, multiple layers of access, minimal configuration requirements/setup, and at the lower end of the cost spectrum. Either of these solutions should provide you with the flexibility and support you require.

This was first published in January 2008

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