Reviewed: Luxul wireless network training

posted on Sunday, 3rd August 2014 by David Slater

Training  Invision UK  Netw 


In my apparent mission to be the best trained custom install publisher in the UK, it was time to hit the road again, this time visiting Invision HQ at Bury St Edmonds. My assignment was a training course designed to cover all aspects of wireless networking as well as hardware options offered by fast rising network company Luxul. The course was presented by Lance Escobar, training specialist at Invision UK.

Inevitably networking has become a major factor in any custom install, and becoming a master at it is key to system reliability. The last thing you want is to jump into your van and get half way home only to take a call from an irate customer saying they cannot turn their system on because the network has fallen over.

The training offered is a generic networking course, suitable for both beginners and those already proficient in the basics of network infrastructure. For example, our day began with Lance asking the group to decipher some familiar networking acronyms, likes WAP, DNS and SSID. It's surprising how many installers know what they are but cannot remember exactly what they stand for. Our hardware focus was Invision distributed Luxul. The Luxul company was founded in 2000 and initially serviced the security automation, industrial mining and military markets; the manufacturer has since moved into custom install where it has become a formidable force.



Very quickly we're examining the differences in Wi-Fi protocols, from 802.11a to 802.11ac and what the differences are between them. The first, launched back in 1997 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), was 802.11a. Unfortunately, 802.11 only supported a maximum network bandwidth of 2Mbps, which was too slow for most applications. For this reason, first generation 802.11 wireless products are no longer manufactured.

The newest generation of Wi-Fi signaling in popular use, 802.11 ac, utilises dual band wireless technology, supporting simultaneous connections on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi bands. 802.11ac offers backward compatibility to 802.11b/g/n, with bandwidth rated up to 1300Mbps on the 5 GHz band and up to 450Mbps on 2.4 GHz.

One key topic featured in the course is the management of wireless security, specifically the prevention of unauthorized access or damage to computers using wireless networks. The most common types of wireless security are Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) and Wi-fi Protected Access (WPA). The former is a notoriously weak security standard, and should not be used. WPA was a quick alternative to improve security over WEP. The current preferred standard is WPA2. This uses an encryption device, which encrypts the network with a 256-bit key; the longer key length greatly improves security over WEP.


Before you know it, information is coming thick and fast. The discussion moves to signal strength and what you should be achieving. The goal is -70 dBm, the typical connection should be between -50 dBm and -70dBm. It's important to get a good signal, as you don't want your devices disconnecting randomly. One way to monitor this, we're told, is to use a piece of software called inSSIDer. The inSSIDer Wi-Fi helper guides you to better Wi-Fi by analyzing the network and signal strength in each room, recommending the best router settings and then measuring the actual performance of the network in each location to see what Internet services you can expect to perform well.

Another important software package for installers is Chanalzer. This will allow you to see all the surrounding networks in your environment and will help you eliminate the first two causes of interference (co-channel and overlapping). With the addition of Wi-Spy, Chanalyzer visualizes the 2.4 GHz and 5GHz RF spectrum, so you can see interference caused by baby monitors, microwaves, wireless security cameras, games consoles and any other nearby device transmitting in the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz spectrum - all of which are invisible to most regular Wi-Fi tools.

One great element of this course are the opportunities it offers for hands-on. We got to explore the configuration of routers and access points via XenSmart, which is a web-based management interface available for use with all Luxul Xen Access Points, Smart Switches and Router solutions. XenSmart provides a simple and intuitive interface for enabling and managing advanced features such as QoS, VLANs, Network Security and VPN. The course provides lots of great tips and tools that you can use to test your Wi-Fi. Lance ran his delegates through Iperf, a commonly used network testing tool which can create Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP) data streams and measure the throughput of a network that is carrying them. Iperf is a tool for network performance measurement written in C.

Ah, now to the juicy bit! Getting our hands on the latest Luxul kit to configure the router. The group was split into teams of four and had to put all the theory learnt to the test, to set up the routers for a live demonstration.



Overall, I rate this training package as perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to install a genuinely robust network and, if you are buying the Luxul range of products, it is well worth enrolling. Our instructor clearly has a wealth of knowledge and openly encouraged questions all the way through the training. Personally, I came away from the training course with a much broader understanding of all aspects of Wi-Fi and networking, not  to mention a memory stick full of little goodies, as well as a free Luxul XWR-1750 dual band wireless AC1750 Gigabit router. Highly recommended.

David Slater

David Slater started his writing career with SVI writing a popular column, he has also guested on publications like Home Cinema Choice and
Living North

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