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Pepwave AP One Review

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Wednesday, 08 February 2012

Pepwave AP One Review



The Pepwave AP One is an enterprise grade solution to provide WLAN connectivity for your office or home. If you demand complete control over your network environment pairing the AP One with a Peplink Balance router gives you complete control over your network environment. You can setup features like site-to-site VPN's to a Peplink Balance (210+), adjust WiFi output and offer multiple SSID's with controllable bandwidth. The video below will give you a quick overview of the AP One including captive portal and bandwidth constraints:

Pepwave AP One Video Review:



Wireless System Information:

There are multiple tabs available to quickly get basic information on wireless channels and how many clients are connected to the AP one. If you need more specific information about a connected device you can use the "Connected Client" feature, which displays all devices connected to the AP one and includes TX/RX packets sent/received, Bytes transferred and manufacture info.

You can also quickly check WDS information to see if you have any other access points interlinked to the AP one via WPS (wireless distribution system). In addition to this you'll have the ability to view nearby wireless networks. This feature allows you to reference any nearby networks which may interfere with your WiFi network. You can categorize nearby networks by Manufacture, SSID, Channel and Security type.

Wireless Network Settings:

You have the ability to setup up to four separate SSID's and customize each network created. For example, you can provide employee (restricted) WiFi, guest WiFi with a portal login (walled garden) and more. The AP One offers everything from open security all the way up to WPA/WPA2 AES:CCMP security for enterprise grade security.



Pictured above is the guest protect feature, which allow you to block specific LAN addresses or websites. The different firewall rules allow you to setup either lockdown mode to block all traffic except approved sites, or flexible mode, which allows you to allow all traffic except any exceptions you list. This is where you can also configure a maximum client list as well as upstream and downstream bandwidth limits (useful if you have limited bandwidth).

Within the Mac filter settings you can also limit clients by Mac address, or filter system abusers. For example, if you notice that a particular user on your network is using an unusual amount of data you can easily terminate access to the WiFi network. You can also use the free InControl Cloud based management tool to configure a captive portal, which is commonly referred to as a walled garden. The captive portal allows you to enter your own custom company logo, message and terms & conditions. You can also create a custom landing page, which can be useful if you'd like your guests to be direct right to your website first.

Advanced Wireless Settings:

 

Under the radio settings users can setup 802.11bgn, 802.11b/g and 802.11n wireless networks with channel bonding up to 40Mhz. You can also have the AP One setup a weekly schedule to adjust the channel throughout the week if you need to free up a channel at a specific time. Now, probably the biggest radio setting you can adjust is the "Power Boost" and Tx output power of the unit. 

 


The standard maximum output of the Pepwave AP One is 630mW giving it an incredible wireless range. In fact, with Powerboost you can actually crank up the output power to 2Watts (Enabling Power Boost may exceed local regulatory limits) for an extremely large WiFi range! We've tested this unit head to head with other bridge capable routers like the Apple Airport Extreme, Cradlepoint MBR1400, Cisco AP's and have found the Pepwave offers the largest WiFi range. 

To put this in perspective units like the Cradlepoint MBR1400 offer a wireless radio capable of around 406mW. Most household routers that you'll see people using for Cable/DSL connections typically offer around 70-100mW radios, so the AP one is five times more powerful than your typical wireless access point. This additional power output means you can deploy WiFi throughout your building with fewer access points to save on hardware costs.

Within the advanced features you can also enable scheduled radio scanning to ensure the AP One remains on the best wireless channel. The unit can also be performance tuned by adjusting the Beacon Rate and Intervals as well as by a distance/time convertor to help figure out optimal settings based of distance from the access point. These settings help ensure that you can maintain the best possible connection speed at any distance from the wireless AP.

 

Site-to-Site VPN:

 



Just like the Peplink Balance 210 and above, the Pepwave AP One offers site-to-site VPN connectivity. This allows you to offer a cost effective method to allow a remote employee's access to your main office site-to-site VPN. When you link multiple office locations you can pull files of a server and easily share content with others across multiple networks. This feature is very popular for companies that need to share secure information (AES 256 bit encryption) across the Internet, but want to save costs for employees that telecommute.

Misc Settings:

You will find other features like SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) with v1, v2 communities and SNMPv3 users. The AP One also features diagnostic tools like Ping, Traceroute and Nslookup to help troubleshoot network issues locally or to a remote server. Another nice feature that you may recognize from the Peplink Balance routers is the ability to save two different versions of firmware on unit. This means if you install a new firmware and an issue is discovered you can quickly reboot the AP One to use a previous version of firmware that doesn't have an issue.

 


The AP One can also be powered by Pepwave POE 802.3at (power over Ethernet) adapter (pictured above). This gives you greater flexibility where you mount the AP One to because you don't need to worry about having a power outlet nearby. You can mount the AP One higher up on a wall in a warehouse or factory setting to place the unit in an area where it's not in danger of being damaged by an employee. The photo below shows one of the AP One units wall mounted at the main 3Gstore warehouse:


Wrap Up:

The Pepwave AP One is an excellent access point for companies that want to cut costs, but still get a full featured and powerful access point. Other popular enterprise grade access points by companies like Cisco, Aruba Networks, Juniper and more require expense WLAN controllers that can cost upwards of $25,000 just to operate the AP's. The AP one can be operated independently by the local interface, InControl cloud based management or by the WLAN controller found in the Peplink Balance 380 or above. The Pepwave AP One is a great option for hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and businesses that want complete control over their wireless network environment. 


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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 15 May 2012 )
 
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