What’s the difference between an inexpensive home access point/wireless router and a production environment access point?

What’s the difference between an inexpensive home access point/wireless router and a production environment access point?

A typical 802.11g access point at BestBuy might cost about $70; the typical indoor wireless access point that UNC purchases lists at approximately $1500 installed. What’s the difference besides price? A home environment tends to be a more controlled environment than either an enterprise like a university or a community network — fewer users, fewer types of applications, a knowledge of who’s connecting to the network. An enterprise or community environment, however, requires a greater feature set and functionality than products meant for the home/single family use. These include:

  • Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN): support allowing for segmentation of various user groups, accommodating clients with different security requirements and capabilities
  • Quality of Service (QoS): prioritizing traffic for different application requirements, necessary for voice and video performance
  • Fast/secure roaming: allowing authenticated clients to roam securely from one access point to another without perceptible delay
  • Client tracking: using radio management information to provide near real-time tracking information
  • Manageability
  • Advanced encryption and user authentication standards, including TKIP and AES, 802.1X and EAP-based authentication, support for RADIUS server user registries
  • Scalability and extensibility
  • Configurable transmit power
  • Load balancing
  • Support for 802.11a/b/g
  • Support for inline power over Ethernet