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Ask the Wi-Fi Guru: Extending Range, Upgrading to Linux Firmware

Aug 14, 2009, 17:01 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Aaron Weiss)

"A: To recap, it sounds like what you want is a wireless network which supports roaming between floors, but does not cost bandwidth for devices connected to the secondary router.

"In a network that supports roaming, your wireless device (such as your laptop) will connect to the strongest signal, and hopefully switch as necessary seamlessly as you move around the space. For this to work, there needs to be at least two wireless access points, each configured with the same SSID, identical security parameters (protocol and password), but different broadcast channels.

"Indeed, you could set up a roaming network either using WDS or a wireless repeater, but both come with a cost. The secondary router will be doing double duty as both a wireless client—to receive a signal from the primary router—and a wireless AP—broadcasting signal to associated devices. Because the secondary router has only one internal radio it must operate at half-duplex, meaning it switches between receiving and broadcasting. The effect of this is that the available LAN bandwidth is cut in half for devices connected to this secondary router. So neither (a) nor (c) of your options will solve this problem.

"Option (b), the wireless bridge, gets us closer to the solution—but with a twist. What you need is a third router!"

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