04/19/2019
Shopping Mall Guest Wifi + Upgrade Administration Office Network
Used Products
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Location
Ontario, Canada
Description

On condition of anonymity our client has approved this post. We've therefore redacted any logos or information that could identify this installation.

One of our clients wanted to offer free guest wifi at their small shopping centre, both inside the mall as well as for clients who were seated outside at the various shops along the one side of the building. They however faced a significant challenge. The best available internet connection to the building was a paltry 5Mbps/1Mbps speed. None of the local internet providers were willing to invest in running fiber to the building even though a brand new building across the street already offered full fiber. Luckily, the location across the street is also owned by the same company. More on this later.

One of the challenges we faced before we even got started was that nearly every shop within the mall also has their own wifi. Our initial wifi survey found no fewer than 60 competing wifi networks, the majority of them running in the 2.4Ghz spectrum. We knew this could pose a challenge but given that the guest wifi was intended for the common areas of the shopping centre and signals were relatively weak from those competing wifi networks, we decided to run a few tests using a transportable wifi setup. The transportable test setup consists of a fully charged UPS powering a US-8-60W switch, a USG, and a 4G connected device. There are 2 UAP-AC-Pro APs mounted atop 50 foot extendable poles and connected to the US-8-60W via 60M Cat6 cabling. This allows us to place the 2 APs in similar positions where we would mount the APs in the mall and confirm that a new guest wifi would be viable given the number of competing wifi networks. The resulting tests indicated that the Unifi gear managed to create a very strong guest network. Once we were able to prove this would be a workable solution, approval for install was granted.

 

The initial part of the installation required running 2 x Cat6 cables (1 active and 1 backup) from the electrical room at the rear of building A (with a newly installed 250Mbps internet connection) to the roof so we could create a PtP connection to building B (the shopping mall). This meant installing new conduit through a number of existing building tenant businesses, across 3 floors and through to the roof. After concrete coring was complete, installing conduit and proper fire blocking was a snap. The NanoBeam AC Gen 2 PtP was installed on a non-penetrating roof mount and pointed at the shopping centre roof approximately 300 meters away.

 

Next, installed the new gear in a new network cabinet at the administration office, along with the 7 internal AP-AC-Pros throughout the shopping area and the 5 AC Mesh APs along the outside roof line of the building facade to support guests visiting the outside shops and cafes. Powering the external APs is a US-8-150W which is uplinked to the US-24-250W, with each AP connected to their own surge protection. The US-8-150W had to be located in one of the electrical rooms for easier access to the roof for running conduit and cabling to the external APs as well as the second NanoBeam AC Gen 2 PtP. The internal APs are powered via the US-24-250W switch from the administration office. Each AP as well as the NanoBeam AC Gen 2 is connected back to the administration office switch and, just to be safe, we ran a backup Cat6 cable to each location. Should something cause the main network cable to fail, we can easily swap the cable connection and be back up and running in no time.

 

We switched over from their old network to the new PtP connection and setup a proper guest wifi and network isolation firewall rules. The resulting improvements are pretty spectacular. Their internet speed went from 5Mbps/1Mbps to 250Mbps/250Mbps regardless of weather, even through the Canadian winter. Latency is 5ms or better. Not only do the guests enjoy a fast, free wifi, but the administration office network also got a significant upgrade from their previous 100Mbps switch + Netgear SOHO router + Cat5 cabling, to a more current 1Gbps + Cat6 cabling. The staff were certainly very appreciative of the improved connectivity to their local NAS but also for the improved internet speeds.

 

The entire project took approximately 5 months from concept to approval to install. The majority of the delays were due to the necessary approvals from the mall executive teams and coordinating conduit and cabling through existing businesses in building A across the street.

 

Next step will be to connect their administration office back to their main office VoIP system so they can get rid of that old POTS setup. Initial tests have shown that even via PtP, a VoIP call works quite well in their case.

 

The client also wants to approach each of their mall tenant and offer to replace their current network/wifi (which would be maxed at a 5Mbps/1Mbps connection) and include them in the new network. This will obviously mean many VLANs to setup segregation but we would also be able to eliminate nearly all competing wifi signals to ensure a better experience for guests. If successful, they would be leveraging a small additional charge from each tenant to offset the cost of the network upgrade and maintenance.

 

 

 

mall_2.jpgHere is the gear we installed (note: while the photo shows a UCK Gen 1, we instead decided to setup a cloud hosted controller because the client has a few other locations they will want to setup with Unifi gear)

 

mall_4.jpgHere is one of the new conduits run through an existing tenant in building A:

 

mall_3.jpgUSG, UPS, and switch in network cabinet:

 

mall_1.jpgThe US-8-150W (pre-cabling) in the electrical room that powers the external Unifi AC Mesh APs as well as the NanoBeam AC Gen 2 PtP:

 

mall_original.jpgA photo of their old setup:

 

mall12.pngWith the use of UIKit, we've created a customized guest portal for mall guests:

 

SpeedTest1.pngInitial speed test once the network was first turned on. After a bit of tweaking and aiming of the NanoBeam AC Gen 2 PtP, we were able to achieve the full 250Mbps/250Mbps speeds.

 

Shopping Mall Guest Wifi + Upgrade Administration Office Network

by on ‎04-19-2019 10:17 AM

On condition of anonymity our client has approved this post. We've therefore redacted any logos or information that could identify this installation.

One of our clients wanted to offer free guest wifi at their small shopping centre, both inside the mall as well as for clients who were seated outside at the various shops along the one side of the building. They however faced a significant challenge. The best available internet connection to the building was a paltry 5Mbps/1Mbps speed. None of the local internet providers were willing to invest in running fiber to the building even though a brand new building across the street already offered full fiber. Luckily, the location across the street is also owned by the same company. More on this later.

One of the challenges we faced before we even got started was that nearly every shop within the mall also has their own wifi. Our initial wifi survey found no fewer than 60 competing wifi networks, the majority of them running in the 2.4Ghz spectrum. We knew this could pose a challenge but given that the guest wifi was intended for the common areas of the shopping centre and signals were relatively weak from those competing wifi networks, we decided to run a few tests using a transportable wifi setup. The transportable test setup consists of a fully charged UPS powering a US-8-60W switch, a USG, and a 4G connected device. There are 2 UAP-AC-Pro APs mounted atop 50 foot extendable poles and connected to the US-8-60W via 60M Cat6 cabling. This allows us to place the 2 APs in similar positions where we would mount the APs in the mall and confirm that a new guest wifi would be viable given the number of competing wifi networks. The resulting tests indicated that the Unifi gear managed to create a very strong guest network. Once we were able to prove this would be a workable solution, approval for install was granted.

 

The initial part of the installation required running 2 x Cat6 cables (1 active and 1 backup) from the electrical room at the rear of building A (with a newly installed 250Mbps internet connection) to the roof so we could create a PtP connection to building B (the shopping mall). This meant installing new conduit through a number of existing building tenant businesses, across 3 floors and through to the roof. After concrete coring was complete, installing conduit and proper fire blocking was a snap. The NanoBeam AC Gen 2 PtP was installed on a non-penetrating roof mount and pointed at the shopping centre roof approximately 300 meters away.

 

Next, installed the new gear in a new network cabinet at the administration office, along with the 7 internal AP-AC-Pros throughout the shopping area and the 5 AC Mesh APs along the outside roof line of the building facade to support guests visiting the outside shops and cafes. Powering the external APs is a US-8-150W which is uplinked to the US-24-250W, with each AP connected to their own surge protection. The US-8-150W had to be located in one of the electrical rooms for easier access to the roof for running conduit and cabling to the external APs as well as the second NanoBeam AC Gen 2 PtP. The internal APs are powered via the US-24-250W switch from the administration office. Each AP as well as the NanoBeam AC Gen 2 is connected back to the administration office switch and, just to be safe, we ran a backup Cat6 cable to each location. Should something cause the main network cable to fail, we can easily swap the cable connection and be back up and running in no time.

 

We switched over from their old network to the new PtP connection and setup a proper guest wifi and network isolation firewall rules. The resulting improvements are pretty spectacular. Their internet speed went from 5Mbps/1Mbps to 250Mbps/250Mbps regardless of weather, even through the Canadian winter. Latency is 5ms or better. Not only do the guests enjoy a fast, free wifi, but the administration office network also got a significant upgrade from their previous 100Mbps switch + Netgear SOHO router + Cat5 cabling, to a more current 1Gbps + Cat6 cabling. The staff were certainly very appreciative of the improved connectivity to their local NAS but also for the improved internet speeds.

 

The entire project took approximately 5 months from concept to approval to install. The majority of the delays were due to the necessary approvals from the mall executive teams and coordinating conduit and cabling through existing businesses in building A across the street.

 

Next step will be to connect their administration office back to their main office VoIP system so they can get rid of that old POTS setup. Initial tests have shown that even via PtP, a VoIP call works quite well in their case.

 

The client also wants to approach each of their mall tenant and offer to replace their current network/wifi (which would be maxed at a 5Mbps/1Mbps connection) and include them in the new network. This will obviously mean many VLANs to setup segregation but we would also be able to eliminate nearly all competing wifi signals to ensure a better experience for guests. If successful, they would be leveraging a small additional charge from each tenant to offset the cost of the network upgrade and maintenance.

 

 

 

mall_2.jpgHere is the gear we installed (note: while the photo shows a UCK Gen 1, we instead decided to setup a cloud hosted controller because the client has a few other locations they will want to setup with Unifi gear)

 

mall_4.jpgHere is one of the new conduits run through an existing tenant in building A:

 

mall_3.jpgUSG, UPS, and switch in network cabinet:

 

mall_1.jpgThe US-8-150W (pre-cabling) in the electrical room that powers the external Unifi AC Mesh APs as well as the NanoBeam AC Gen 2 PtP:

 

mall_original.jpgA photo of their old setup:

 

mall12.pngWith the use of UIKit, we've created a customized guest portal for mall guests:

 

SpeedTest1.pngInitial speed test once the network was first turned on. After a bit of tweaking and aiming of the NanoBeam AC Gen 2 PtP, we were able to achieve the full 250Mbps/250Mbps speeds.

 

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Comments
by
a month ago - last edited a month ago

Just curious. What is the winning factor(s) that AC-PRO chosen instead of AC-LR to serve Guest WiFi?

 

I believe Guest WiFi audience is mainly mobile devices with only 2x2 hence the 3x3 on AC-PRO is actually not really useful/optimal.

by
a month ago

@chaicka The UAP-AC-LR is 2x2 only in the 5Ghz band, it is 3x3 in the 2.4Ghz. We also wanted to standardize on lower number of models The APs aren't positioned so far away from the users to cause concerns for those low powered mobile devices and we had tested both the UAP-AC-LR and UAP-AC-Pro and found the Pro to be a better performer, potentially because of the over 60 competing wifi networks throughout the mall.

by
a month ago

Hi, what are the six small button in the picture with US-8-150W

by
a month ago - last edited a month ago

@alhabsiThose are ethernet surge protectors that have been mounted inside the building, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Robot wink

by
3 weeks ago

Why is there only one cable ging into the LPU/Surge Protectors? did these get grounded eventually?

by
3 weeks ago

@ParkIT  What you're seeing is the grounding cable. The network cables hadn't yet been connected. Each surge protector now has 3 cables....2 network and 1 ground cable.

by
2 weeks ago

Excellent writeup - thanks for sharing!

by
a week ago

Lightning protectors inside? Thank God someone else gets it. I was standing in the phone room of a good size mall and heard thunder from outside rumbling all the time. Then  while looking at AT&T's VRAD there was a huge arch inside and scared the bjesus out of me.  Then a half a second laterI heard the thunder then the smell of burning plastic. Never take for granted where you are