Small businesses that want to move from standalone wireless networks to fully cloud-managed ones will love Linksys’ LAPAC2600C as it doesn’t get any easier. This Wave 2 wireless AP takes everything we like about the standard LAPAC2600 model and teams it up with Linksys’ Cloud Manager web portal. Its price even includes a 5-year subscription.
Signing up for a Cloud Manager account is easy: provide an email address for the designated owner, add a password, choose a domain name and create networks for each geographical location. Adding APs is equally swift. You provide their MAC address and serial number, which are found on the box, under the AP and, if you login to its local web interface, can be copied and pasted from its system status page.
Before going further, we recommend visiting the portal’s main settings page and changing the default local admin password for all managed APs. Most AP settings aren’t available locally, but you can still login and disable cloud management or change the AP’s LAN configuration.
Each AP takes 10 seconds to link up with Cloud Manager and you can change their names to more meaningful ones. The portal’s overview page for the selected network provides a real-time graph of upload and download traffic for all clients or the number of connections and can be swapped to the last hour, day or week.
You can see the busiest clients and APs, wireless channel usage and a Google map showing the AP’s physical location. You can create an unlimited number of SSID profiles and up to eight can be assigned to each AP as ‘slots’.
Along with enabling encryption and SSID masking, you can decide which APs will broadcast the SSID and apply a single limit in Mbits/sec to overall upstream and downstream bandwidth usage. Client isolation stops users on the same SSID from seeing each other, you can restrict the number of clients that can associate and enable 802.1lk for fast roaming as users move around.
Zero-touch provisioning is achieved by creating a new network for the remote site, entering the AP’s details from the box, pre-assigning SSIDs to it and sending it to the remote location. All the user needs do is unbox the AP, connect it to power and the internet and it’ll do the rest.
The LAPAC2600C is a good performer, with real world file copies using a 5GHz 11ac connection on a Windows 10 Pro desktop averaging 56MB/sec at close range dropping to 53MB/sec at 10 metres. Coverage is also good as the SweetSpots app on our iPad only registered a loss of signal after we got 44 metres down the main building corridor.
Each network in your account can have additional members added and allowed to manage all settings or merely view them. There are no options to permit access to specific functions but the account owner can add more users and grant them full portal access to all networks.
Guest wireless networks are swiftly created by enabling a captive portal (or ‘splash page’) on selected SSIDs, which is presented to users when they load a browser after associating. The page can be customised with a small company logo and AUP (acceptable use policy) of up to 1,024 characters, set to request a global password and used to redirect guests to a landing web page – possibly with a promotional message.
The LAPAC2600C delivers good wireless performance and features at a very reasonable price. Linksys’ cloud portal is basic but its extreme ease of use makes it ideal for small businesses that want hassle-free cloud managed wireless networks.