Thursday, February 4, 2010

How to extend your wireless network

A lot of people have asked me about this subject - either at their homes or in their offices.
They are running a wireless network and as soon as they move into a certain room, or beyond a certain distance from the access point, their wireless signal becomes weak or is lost completely.

The obvious solution is to move your access point around, but this is not always possible if the access point is also an ADSL modem, and therefore limited in positioning by Telkom wall jacks etc.

There is another option, but only if your existing Wireless access point supports something called "WDS". WDS (courtesy of Wikipedia), is defined as follows:

"A Wireless Distribution System (WDS) is a system that enables the wireless interconnection of access points in an IEEE 802.11 network. It allows a wireless network to be expanded using multiple access points without the need for a wired backbone to link them, as is traditionally required."

So in plain English, you can extend your wireless network by placing another access point somewhere else in your home / office, and your 2 access points can then be configured to form one virtual access point, i.e. your laptop / PC will see them as one access point, just a whole lot larger than before.

In order to achieve this though, the following conditions need to be met:

- both access points must support WDS / Wireless Bridging
- both access points must have the same SSID
- both access points must be broadcasting on the same wireless channel
- both access points must be on the same IP subnet
- WDS / Wireless Bridging must be enabled on both access points, and the respective MAC addresses of each access point needs to be associated with the other access point.

Wow what a mouthful! I must say that I had quite a time getting this right initially, but if you meet all of the above conditions then you should be good to go.
If you are not sure what Access Point you can use to get this right, the Netgear WG602 is a great device that supports Wireless Bridging (provided that your existing access point is up to the task).

Want one? Drop me a mail now - the Netgear WG602 is currently available for R 700.
As always, T&C's apply.


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