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Enhance your home wireless network using wireless bridging

Small Business and Home wireless networking has come a long way over the past several years. There are still some issues that need to be resolved by the wireless equipment providers, most specifically automatically resolving conflicts with default IP addresses. This post however relates to a little more advanced issue that we believe will be more and more prevalent now that home users are more dependant on networking and more small businesses operate out of the home. Specifically we are referring to the need to expand wireless access to parts of the home/office that the signal does not reach.

There are several range extenders available from Linksys, D-Link and others, that will take your wireless signal and repeat it just as if the router was in that location. Let’s say you have a wireless connection in your home office and it works fine to the Living Room, but does not reach to the Kitchen table where you like to read the morning paper. You could place a Range Booster (Repeater) in the Living Room and it will extend the distance of the signal on to your Kitchen.

One of our customers recently had a problem where the husband and wife both had home offices, however one was in the basement and the other was in the third floor, where the DSL and Router resided. To add to the problem they really needed wired access between computers in the basement and only needed internet access through the 3rd floor router. Finally compounding the problem, wireless access in the basement was unacceptable on some of the computers due to ventilation pipes disrupting the signal.

There are a couple of options to solving this problem and they are listed below in order of preference. before we begin, let’s summarize our problem:

  • Connect to the internet from the basement level to the router on the 3rd floor.
  • Allow wired connections in the basement level office so that file transfers and office software will operate at speeds up to 100MB
  • Provide more reliable connections to internet than has currently been the experience due to distance from existing router and most likely physical obstructions (ventilation system piping).
  • Keep costs within a home/office budget and use readily available equipment.

Options in order of preference

  • Hard Wire Second floor to garage.
    While this is the best speed and reliability option, there may be cost and/or physical (how will wires be run in pre-existing structure) reasons why this may not be practical. If it was practical, buying either a 4/8 port switch or another wireless router with additional ethernet ports would be the best option for wired and wireless connectivity.
  • Use a Wireless Router/Bridge/Repeater

Having passed all of the constraints to our design department the preferred option was to implement a wired connection to the basement since this provided far more benefit than the wireless alternative however due to physical building limitations it was not feasible in keeping with the limited budget which was available so it was ultimately decided to opt for a wireless repeater. If you have any questions on the detail of the implementation please post them below and we will endeavour to answer them.

Terms used

  • Router – routes connections from one network over a new network. this is typically a WAN (Wide Area Network such as Internet) to a LAN (Local Area Network such as your office). The WAN might have an address such as 71.53.116.62 and the LAN might be 192.168.2.1. You might also route one LAN 192.168.2.1 to another 192.168.2.1
  • Repeater – ability to take pick up a signal (such as wireless networks) and repeat it thereby extending the distance. Typical repeater only devices have no additional wired ports and simply boost the signal.
  • Bridging – a device that connects to an existing network to make it look like it is transparent to the user. It may also have repeating capability.
  • Access Point – a device that typically is wired to another network and provides an access point (no routing) to the existing network. Similar to a bridge.
  • WDS – A Wireless Distribution System is a system that enables the interconnection of access points wirelessly. As described in IEEE 802.11, 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.

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