The enterprise version of Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA or WPA2) encryption for wireless LANs uses 802.1x authentication, which requires a RADIUS server. If you have a small business, you may find that some these RADIUS servers run up to several thousands of dollars and require expertise to configure and maintain.
However, there are other options out there, where you can still take advantage of this bullet-proof authentication and encryption for your wireless network, at a reasonable cost of time and money. Here are a few ideas:
- Use the built-in servers of access points (APs): You’ll find APs, such as the USRobotics USR5453 or ZyAIR G-2000 Plus v2, online anywhere from $140 to $200 a piece.
- Sign-up for an outsourced solution: Services such as WiTopia and BoxedWireless offer access to their RADIUS servers where you still get to create your own accounts for logging onto your network and the shared secrets required for your APs. WiTopia’s service starts at $99 per year for one AP with up to 100 users, with a $99 one-time setup fee, and $14.99 per year for each additional AP. BoxedWireless’s service is based on the amount of accounts; such as 1-10 users for $186 or 11-25 users for $257 per year, with an unlimited number of APs. Don’t forget about CoovaAAA, which provides basic features for free!
- Look into servers targeted toward small businesses: For example, Elektron is priced at $750 and ClearBox at $599, both offering 30-day fully-functional trials. Then there’s TekRADIUS that’s 100% free.
Eric Geier is an author of many wireless networking and computing books including Home Networking All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies (Wiley 2008) and 100 Things You Need to Know about Upgrading to Windows Vista (Que 2007).