Ubiquiti for wifi - pros/cons/recommendations?

(Jeremy Carroll) #1

Hello. For those using Ubiquiti products (or even just familiar with them), are you happy with them? Our IT firm is recommending that we install them as our first campus-wide wifi system. Just curious what experience has taught you.


(Mike Hazelwood) #2

I started using them about 5 years ago. They are decent, but I found as our needs grew and more people are streaming video and audio on our network, we need something that was more robust. I just switched out our Unifi for Ruckus with Zone Controller at our main site, and I am using Ruckus Cloud at our smaller campuses. So far everything is working a lot better on the Ruckus. But if budget is a factor, than Unifi is a great system to start with but I would get the better UAP-Pro APs.

(Brian Roskamp) #3

We’ve been using Ubiquiti’s Unifi line for about two years now. We started out with just two UAP-PRO units. Our setup now consists of a USG, 2 UAP-AC-PROs, and a CloudKey.

We’re a small church, running under 100 in weekly attendance, and operate a daycare center at the facility through the week. At our heaviest, we’ll have a few dozen people connected to the network. Due to our location we’re currently on a relatively slow (12/1) DSL connection.

Overall I really like their products and they come at a great price point. They’re actively maintaining and updating their products; always adding or improving features. My only complaint would be the stability of their updates. Over the past several months they’ve had a few missteps, but I’ve found them to stand behind their products and are more than accomodating when it comes to addressing these issues.

Their support team is always available and willing to help, although sometimes it does take a while to find and address the actual issue. They’ve also reworked their testing and release process over the past few months to minimize these types of issues.

Despite the few issues I’ve run into, I’d still recommend giving them a try, especially if you’re being cost-conscious.

(Derek Van Winkle) #4

It depends.

We were heading towards an all Ubiquiti setup a few years ago. We started installing their switches and access points. Within a year, I had a power supply fail in one of their switches. This is really my only negative experience with their products. They now offer some switches with redundant power options.

We started moving away from their access points due to the 4 SSID limitation. This may or may not be an issue for you, but we saw that we needed more than 4 in specific areas. Also, two years ago, Ubiquiti didn’t have the HD acess point model and some of our APs were getting overloaded in worship center areas.

Another issue you might run into is the lack of support for Ubiquiti products. They have a pretty active forum, but you can’t call up the company and actually talk to someone.

I’ve done a campus-wide Unifi deployment at another church and it still works fine for them. It really just depends on how your budget is for this and how complex your needs are.

We ended up going with HP Procurve (Aruba) switching with Cisco wireless. The cost is greater, but I get a great deal more flexibility in the equipment.

(Samuel Crisp) #5

We had a full Ubiquiti system for a couple of years. (Before the AC Pro’s came out, so I cannot vouch for those).
I am no wifi expert by any means but I know that the system is just not robust enough when you have a lot of clients. Random drops and inconsistent connections to one of our two SSID’s caused me to invest a lot of time troubleshooting and replacing/adding access points as much as I could.

Finally got fed up with it and switched over to Meraki access points. 3x the cost but so worth it for ease of use, given that I was a one-man-band at the time. I bet Ruckus is a great middle ground; I see most larger churches using Ruckus for their systems. But unless Cisco really messes with the Meraki model and interface I think we’ll be with them for a long time. Very happy.

I put 6 outdoor units in our worship center and we can now have connected access for about 2000 clients. Granted, they’re limited in bandwidth but the fact that I’ve had that many connected at one time is fantastic.

(Tim Adams) #6

For those interested in entry level APs, Xirrus has a promotion on X2 where you can get a two radio 802.11ac wave 1 AP with three years of cloud management for around $300 total inclusive cost. The great thing about this, is that you can deploy the X2 accross your campus but in your sanctuary you can choose one of the higher end 4 radio all AC products to save money on cable runs, switch ports, while allowing maximum density. The lower end two radio products are not efficient in sanctuaries because you are not able to run more than three in 2.4, so you end up turning radios off.

With Xirrus, higher end Cisco, and some Aerohive APs now you can be 100% Ghz or whatever ratio you need. Of course, Xirrus has been doing this for 6 years and Cisco and Aerohive are just figuring it out.

(Kjell Nygren) #7

At our main location I have 13 UniFi AC APs which will hopefully be getting replaced throughout the year with the new HD MuMIMO ones. I also have 2 in wall AC APs for some offices that have been hard to reach.

Overall. They lack the design for high density wifi. But that being said, on an average Sunday at 11:00am I end up with over 400 devices connected and no one complaining.

I like the idea of the central controller and have no problem designing my wifi around a 4 SSID limitation. I’ve got a USG and their 8 port switch, but I just can’t quite do it yet. Still missing features from the UI and no OpenVPN or SSLVPN for mobile workers. The firewall is rudimentary and don’t expect any UTM (not at that price point).

Hard to argue with the price though. And I keep a spare AP on hand at all times in case one goes flaky. That’s only happened twice.

(Michael Spivey) #8

We changed to Ubiquiti in May of 2016 with the full Unifi platform. I have had very little to no trouble with the Unifi platform or any of the devices. At times I wish it had more features, but Ubiquiti seems to be adding features slowly but surely. I like that I have the ability to pull up every device via their mobile app, so I can see up-to-date data as well as see if there are any trouble areas or other issues.
One drawback that have is that I do not like is their guest access setup. We have had trouble with members trying to access our guest wifi via the Unifi controller guest portal. It only works about half of the time, and Ubiquiti has acknowledged that there is an issue with it but have not said if/when if will be corrected.

I have only had to talk to their support service once and it took several days for them to respond to my request. Otherwise, we have a local IT firm that can stop by and help if there are any issues that I cannot figure out.

We purchased the AC-Pro’s in our sanctuary, youth center, and office areas. We have the AC-LR’s for the rest of the campus. We have several switches and the USG-Pro. I am looking at purchasing one of the new AC-HD (MuMIMO) for testing in our sanctuary.

(Paul Tedder) #9

I’ll add my voice to this. We started with a Unifi wireless system and it was a great way to get started. In just the last couple months we’ve moved to a Cisco Meraki solution which will provides a more robust solution and also allow us to provide Wireless to our congregation on a Sunday morning. I would encourage you to go with the Unifi unless you want to provide “high density” coverage during a service or such. If so, you may want to look another direction.

(Tyler Turner) #10

I’ve got 24 of various access points at my main campus. some pro models, some regular 2.4ghz models. Overall they have been OK, but in our high density areas (office and worship center) they aren’t reliable for us. The pro models are in the office and worship center, but start to have issues at about 25 clients connected to an AP. Also, I have to reboot them quite often to keep them operating well, otherwise I will get people who randomly can’t connect.

Our smaller campus I have 8 ac pro models deployed, but there is a max of 200 people at this campus, and it’s working well there.

I have also deployed several of these for various small businesses around the area and they work great.

I am talking with Tim about moving to the Xirrus wireless for our office, worship center and new fellowship hall.

(Tim Adams) #11

MU-MIMO is great in theory, but there remains to be seen how well it will function outside of a lab. There are quite a few technical limitations: increased noise floor, additional processor and airtime overhead, and the big one: The fact that an access point cannot speak MU-MIMO and SU-MIMO at the same time. Until your sanctuaries are filled with 90+% MU-MIMO devices (think iPhone 8 (maybe), next gen androids), there will be zero benefit here. For some churches this might take 2+ years with the slower cell phone upgrade cycles.

Obviously, if you are making new tech investments, its great to plan for the future. I just wanted to mitigate any expectations that Wave 2 will help over Wave 1 today (or really anytime soon).

(Alex Conner) #12

I’ve got hundreds of UniFI Access Points in active use today across dozens
of customers. They’re not the “easy button” and you’re going to have to
understand wifi pretty well to push them hard, but they’re excellent for
office spaces and medium density usage. In my higher density areas, I’ve
used Xirrus mainly due to the ability to put one array in a spot and have
4-8 directional radios helping me out rather than dealing with
omnidirectional APs in a big open space and trying to run extra cabling or
install switches out in the open.
I find the UniFi products to be perfectly acceptable up to 30 moderate
users and 50 light users per radio, but the new HD access points can
probably handle more users.
Also, I second the cautioning against thinking Wave2 is a panacea. In Very
High Density deployments with heavy very modern devices, it might help but
for now I’d recommend SU-MIMO, Airtime Fairness, Band Steering,
Beamforming, and Assisted Roaming are the items that are going to help

(Greg Brenneman) #13

Question about needing to reboot the Ubiquiti Ap’s:

Do you have a particular pattern for reboots? I find times of random connection issues, even during the week with light office usage, and a reboot always fixes the problem.

Any guidance?

  • Greg

(Tyler Turner) #14

@gbrenneman I began rebooting every morning for that reason. I wrote a batch file and scheduled it.

(Jeremy Carroll) #15

Thank you for the feedback, everyone!! Very helpful!

(Eric Eskam) #16

Bang for buck in all but the biggest environments Unifi is hard to beat. And the new AC-HD unit is pretty impressive. For testing I threw one up in our sanctuary, turned the power down on surrounding APs to encourage people to mostly connect to it and had about 150 users connected to - at one point I was at 60% utilzation on the gig ethernet connection - not too shabby. There’s still a few glitches here and there but UBNT has made a number of signficant new hires and meaningful firmware updates are now a lot more frequent than just a year ago.

They even managed to hire away the founder of the pfSense project to give the Unifi Security Gateway some much needed love (I still wouldn’t recommend the USG, but the switches and APs are great!)

And for those currently using multiple SSIDs to segement users/traffic the RADIUS controlled VLAN firmware is coming along nicely and ultimately is a much cleaner solution. SSID beacons stink/hog your airtime. Theres really good reasons most vendors make it hard to go beyond for SSIDs - you start spending more time with your radios servicing overhead traffic than moving data you probably care a lot more about.

If you want a more plug and play/hands off solution be preapred to pay for it (and on a continual basis with maintenance fees too). If you don’t mind tinkering a little, Unifi provides a lot of bang for the buck (and a fixed cost with no re-occuring costs).