Using Non-Enterprise Wireless on Campus

Setting up Non-Enterprise Wireless Access Points on campus

With the increasing number of wireless devices appearing on campus, the integrity of Purdue's campus-wide Wi-Fi network, PAL3.0, must be maintained. If you have to use a non-enterprise access point for your own purposes, please follow the recommendations below to ensure that the newly introduced signal does not overpower PAL3.0's, as many people rely on it for their Wi-Fi needs.

What is a Non-Enterprise Wireless Access Point?

Any access point that is manufactured for home or home office use is typically a non-enterprise AP. An Enterprise AP (EAPs, for this article) is managed remotely, transmits at a lower power, uses Power-over-ethernet, and is significantly more expensive.

Examples of Non-Enterprise APs (we'll refer to them as NEAPs in short for this article): Netgear WRT or Nighthawk series, Asus RT series, TPLink's Archer series, Linksys WRT series. NEAPs typically have a high transmit power, a lower level of intelligent channel management, a built in DHCP server with NAT, a lower ability to deal with multiple clients, and a power brick. These are commonly called Wireless Routers, as well, since they combine various functions into the same hardware.

Enterprise APs are typically geared towards dealing with multiple clients, have very intelligent channel management, and run at low transmit powers. They also rely on back end infrastructure to deal with authentication and bandwidth management.

When is a Non-Enterprise Access Point needed on campus?

Answer: Rarely.

Typically, these are needed when there are some research data collection devices that are unable to access the higher security features of the EAPs. There may also be the need to use the NAT/routing portion of the NEAPs to protect devices behind an inbound firewall, perhaps with no need for wireless.

What problems do NEAPs cause, and how can they be mitigated to prevent issues?

The biggest issue with NEAPs is that they drown out all other wireless signals in the nearby areas, closely followed by interference on a larger scale.

If you need to use the NAT/routing portion of the NEAPs to protect devices behind an inbound firewall, make sure to turn off wireless capability.

If wireless is needed, Utilize the 5GHz Band Instead of the 2.4GHz Band - PAL3.0 employs the 2.4GHz band as it is compatible with a wider range of devices than its counterpart. If your device is capable of transmitting at 5.0GHz and your devices are able to access that band, making use of it will significantly reduce the level of interference on campus. If possible, set the channel width to 20MHz, and use channels 100-144. Set your SSID to be clearly recognizable in case of interference.

One last method to deal with this is to turn the transmit power of the NEAPs way down, to 20-25% - however not all routers have this setting. That single change should allow you to continue your work, as well as reduce issues with PAL3.0, attwifi and eduroam in the vicinity right away. Remember, a NEAP at full strength can drown out PAL3.0 signals in the floors above and below it, as well!

Another culprit is wireless printers - those can cause interference at long distances without drowning out signals. We recommend turning off wireless printing features on your device.


How can we make sure that everyone can work without issues?

Do you need to use a NEAP in your lab? Contact ECN via and we will be happy to work with you as well as ITaP Networking to assist you with this, and also cause minimal interference to people around your area.


Any suggested NEAPs?

TP-LINK AC1900 Wireless Gb Router
Item #: 36618283
Mfr. Part#: ARCHER A9
for $85.31

Last modified: 2021/02/09 10:56:3.841906 US/Eastern by michael.p.harrington.1
Created: 2017/05/02 10:32:53.390057 GMT-4 by sundeep.rao.1.



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