Much of the time, networks are fairly static in nature. They’re installed somewhere specific – switches in wiring closets, APs up on walls or suspended from ceilings. This is the stuff of the network admin’s day job.
Every now and then a less straightforward requirement comes along. Perhaps a company wants to attend a trade show, or a non-profit wants to set up a stall at a street fair, providing WiFi access for passers-by.
The Haight Street Fair, San Francisco – how do you provide WiFi here?
Fortunately the Meraki family of Security Appliances provides the perfect solution. Included in the family are a couple of models which meet all the requirements for a temporary network like this. Let’s take a closer look at the MX60W and the Z1. Both of these include two design features enabling temporary networks to be set up with ease, all with a single device.
Firstly, the MX60W and Z1 provide dual-band 802.11n WiFi for up to 20 users (5 for the Z1), supporting multiple SSIDs and customizable splash pages. It’s even possible to redirect connecting clients to an established captive portal back at the event base or HQ for authorization, if required. If the network needs to scale then our enterprise grade MR APs remain the more extensible option, but for a quick, small deployment around a stand, the mini security appliances do a great job.
Secondly, all Meraki security appliances include a special USB port, designed for use by a cellular wireless dongle. In the office one of these might be used as a secondary, or even tertiary backup Internet connection. However, there’s no reason why a cellular data connection cannot be the sole means of connection to the internet, and with 4G speeds now reaching into the tens of Megabytes per second range, there’s plenty of bandwidth to share.
Even with all that bandwidth to play with, it still makes sense to make a few configuration tweaks to ensure all clients have a good experience. The simple application visibility and control tools provided by Meraki make this a breeze. These allow per-user bandwidth limits to be set with a simple slider, or specific apps to be brought to heel so they’re not sucking-up an unfair share of the internet connection.
Both devices sip only a little power, so a small solar panel or wind generator may be all that’s needed to keep things running. Details of the supported dongles for your region can be found on our documentation portal, here.