Welcome to the MacNN Forums.

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed. To start viewing messages, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

You are here: MacNN Forums > Enthusiast Zone > Networking > Wireless network extension with g and n

Wireless network extension with g and n
Thread Tools
Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: San Jose, CA
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 31, 2009, 11:14 AM
 
I'm finally upgrading my crappy AT&T DSL to (unfortunately) Comcast cable (I have no choice for anything faster). Unfortunately, the cable connection is at the other end of the house, so I was thinking of using the free 802.11g router (D-Link) I got with the new connection and extend the wireless to the existing Airport Extreme so I don't have to move it:

cable -> cable modem -> 802.11g router -> AEBS -> printers and hard drive

I also thought that with this setup, my b and g devices could access the g router on their own network, and my n devices could access the AEBS (it's the older AEBS without the dual antennae) so I could finally turn on the wireless security that everybody here says I need to have!

However, looking at Apple help for extending a wireless network in Airport Utility, it looks like I would simply be extending through WDS the g network with the same SSID, not bridging to my existing n network, unless I'm not understanding it correctly. I thought the AEBS would connect to the Internet through the g network and then be able to create its own n network with a separate SSID. Am I missing something here?

Thanks,
Steve
Celebrating 10 years and 4000 posts on MacNN!
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 31, 2009, 11:34 AM
 
No, it doesn't work that way.

You should connect the two AP devices through Ethernet or at least powerline networking.
     
Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: San Jose, CA
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 31, 2009, 11:43 AM
 
Crap. Then does that mean that if I did simple WDS, my n devices would still get slowed down to g speed?

Steve
Celebrating 10 years and 4000 posts on MacNN!
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 31, 2009, 01:34 PM
 
Yes. And even if WDS turns out to be reliable for you, its performance is nothing to write home about.
     
Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: San Jose, CA
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 31, 2009, 01:55 PM
 
I assume you mean LAN performance, not Internet, right?

Could there be any other solution besides powerline, including the purchase of extra hardware? The printer is in the office, and I seriously doubt my wife would appreciate a laser printer sitting on the floor of the living room.

Steve
Celebrating 10 years and 4000 posts on MacNN!
     
Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: San Jose, CA
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 31, 2009, 02:53 PM
 
Well, now here's another issue that makes no sense. Wireless shouldn't affect speed as long as you have a good connection, right? When my MBP is right next to the new g router with the cable modem, I get my rated 15-20 Mbps on Speedtest and DSLreports. But when I go up to the office, I'm still getting 4 bars of wireless, but my speed drops to 4-5 Mbps! Is that possible? I didn't think LAN speed (even if my signal strength was lower upstairs) would affect Internet speed.

Steve
Celebrating 10 years and 4000 posts on MacNN!
     
Administrator
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: San Antonio TX USA
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 31, 2009, 04:17 PM
 
Signal strength does not equal bandwidth. While you may be getting plenty of RF signal, the ability of that signal to pass data could easily be effected by interference and/or the materials used to build the wall separating you from the base station. There could be a metal structure or piece (maybe some pipes or cables?) in a crucial wall that cause data errors through multipath interference (the signal bouncing around and across those metal structures) and dealing with that requires a LOT of packet retransmissions and lowers your throughput.

However, there are things you could do to mitigate whatever is lowering your throughput. First, move the base station higher off the floor; most movable signal obstructions are below shoulder height, so put the base on a tall shelf of bookcase. And get someone to help you monitor your AirPort signal strength while you turn the base station, because antenna performance from any home WiFi unit is never truly "circular," and your base WILL produce more signal in one direction than others. Improving signal strength should also help your throughput speed.

I think the two best things for WiFi coverage in a home are open floor plans and an ability to drop Cat5 where you really need it. My floor plan minimizes walls that obstruct signals, so throughout just about the whole 1800 sq/ft house I get really decent speeds. If I needed to, I would crawl through my attic (in the winter-it's freakin' HOT up there right now!) and drop the needed Cat5 into the appropriate walls so I could extend my wireless network by wiring another base where it was needed.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: San Jose, CA
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 31, 2009, 05:14 PM
 
Hmm. I'll try lifting it tonight. The router's on the floor right now, so that would make sense. Can anybody comment on the powerline networking? I don't think I'd be able pull cable, so I may have to go this route if I can't improve things.

Steve
Celebrating 10 years and 4000 posts on MacNN!
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 1, 2009, 02:07 AM
 
I was thinking about LAN speed, but you could also easily be affected in terms of "internet" or WAN speed if your cable connection is really fast. My ISP supplies me with roughly 50 Mbps downstream. If you take g you're already cutting into that (because in my experience real world g is never better than 30 Mbps).

If you're then on a client connected to a WDS remote/relay the max available bandwidth is halved. So you'd be down to below 15 Mbps. This is important to remember. Each WDS stage reduces bandwidth by 1/2 so cascading WDS relays is a really bad idea unless at the end of this cascade all you have is a simple printer or something like AirTunes. But you wouldn't want to surf on a client connected through two WDS stations.

If you're mainly worried about having to put the printer in the living room, you could indeed use WDS for it. It's just a printer. I suggest you give it the old AP station and run it as a WDS remote in g mode. Use you g router to host that WDS (assuming the g router can host a WDS the AP can connect to - these things tend to not always work across manufacturers). Then connect an n AP Extreme through Ethernet or powerline networking to the g router and set it up at an ideal location in your house. Use it to host an n network with WPA2. That should then give you speed and security. Keep in mind that powerline networking is often quoted as offering 200 Mbps. That's a somewhat theoretical peak value. If really good LAN performance is required at the n base station, you will need to connect it via Ethernet to the cable router.
     
Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: San Jose, CA
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 1, 2009, 02:38 AM
 
Thanks for the tips Simon.

I think I've just proved that WDS does not work between the D-Link g router and the AEBS. I think that leaves powerline networking as my best option, since I seriously don't think I can snake ethernet through the walls (though I may try it tomorrow).

Any recommendations on powerline hardware? I saw 85 Mbps and the 200 Mbps you mentioned at Newegg.

Steve
Celebrating 10 years and 4000 posts on MacNN!
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 1, 2009, 02:41 AM
 
I'd get the fastest you can. I don't use it regularly myself, but I installed a 200 Mbps powerline network for a friend. She's not had any trouble over time (Mac and Linux clients). She seems quite ok with its performance too. She's a geek, but not as bad as I am. Personally, I think the theoretical 200 Mbps max would be just barely enough.
     
Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: San Jose, CA
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 1, 2009, 04:01 AM
 
Well, what do you know: I tried replacing the new g router with my AEBS and the bottleneck going up to the office is gone! I'm back at 15-20 Mbps where I should be, at least with my n-based MBP. My older 12" PB is still down around 5 Mbps, which I think is acceptable.

So now the question becomes how do I connect to the printers and hard drive in the office? Airport Express through the extended network feature perhaps? This seems like it is different from WDS, according to Apple help. Is staying all n better than using WDS?

Steve
Celebrating 10 years and 4000 posts on MacNN!
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 1, 2009, 07:07 AM
 
Aren't extended network and WDS two different names for essentially the same thing?

How about you attach your AEBS to the cable modem and set it to n-only. Then run inexpensive powerline networking from your AEBS to an AP Express. Connect that Express to the remote printer. Also, have it host a g network for your PB. Advantages: you'd have an n-only network for your n devices and you wouldn't be relying on WDS.
     
Administrator
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: San Antonio TX USA
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 1, 2009, 07:52 AM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Aren't extended network and WDS two different names for essentially the same thing?
It's my understanding that WDS and "extended/roaming" networks are fundamentally different. Whereas in WDS every access point must be on the same channel and use the same encryption method and key, an extended network MUST have each access point on different channels, and may (AFAIK) have any combination of encryption configurations. WDS uses wireless connections to distribute the network while extended networks use Ethernet to connect all access points to a single common router.

To me, an extended network is simpler in concept; put in as many access points as are needed for overlapping coverage of the area, set them all to the same SSID (now an ESSID) but different channels, connect them all to the same wired router and you're done-as a mobile client moves from one coverage area to another it chooses the stronger channel and pretty much seamlessly shifts from one access point to another.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 2, 2009, 02:51 AM
 
Yeah right, roaming. I had forgotten about connecting base stations through Ethernet. I got the impression Steve wanted to avoid wired connections as much as possible.

The roaming approach will be more stable and offers better performance than WDS. I guess if Steve doesn't want to run Ethernet cables through his house he could still do a roaming setup if he uses powerline networking. I'm no big fan of it, but roaming with powerline will still be a better solution than having to rely on WDS.

Steve, how about this idea:

cable modem -> powerline -> AEBS -> n wifi -> MBP and other n devices
AEBS LAN port -> Ethernet -> old g router -> g wifi -> old PB
AEBS USB port -> printer and HDs

You're WAN speed will be limited by the powerline networking which should be good enough. Your LAN speed should be as good as the devices allow (so real n speeds for newer devices, g speeds for g devices).
     
Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: San Jose, CA
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 3, 2009, 11:38 AM
 
Simon,

Your setup was what I was thinking. I'm reading mixed reports on powerline. Tom's hardware did a big shootout between some of the available options, and the results are not great, though they seem good enough for the WAN connection: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/Powerlin...view-1333.html

WAN is my big concern; I don't do much local sharing. I think I'm going to try this out. I'll let you know how it goes.

Steve
Celebrating 10 years and 4000 posts on MacNN!
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 3, 2009, 12:19 PM
 
If WAN performance is your main concern a pair of decent 200 Mbps powerline adapters should work ok if the wiring in your house is in good shape.

Obviously CAT5 would be the better choice in terms of raw performance.

No matter what you end up choosing, keep us posted.
     
Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: San Jose, CA
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 4, 2009, 01:14 AM
 
Darn. I got the Netgear Powerline 200 Mbps kit. The setup was stupid simple. I hooked it up between the cable modem in the living room and the AEBS in the office upstairs. It connected perfectly. However, Speedtest and DSLreports tests drop to about 8-9 Mbps, compared to the 15-20 I was getting before. Darn it.

So that means that I must have my AEBS next to the cable modem and some other router with USB (Airport Express perhaps) upstairs connected to the printers and central hard drive. Anybody know any g routers (cheaper than an AE) that have USB?

I think I'm going to keep the Powerline network adapters anyway. They will still be handy.

Steve
Celebrating 10 years and 4000 posts on MacNN!
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 4, 2009, 03:04 AM
 
Steve, I'm sorry to hear you only saw 8-9 Mbps. That's a real bummer. I guess the wiring is quite a big factor. I actually saw 50 Mbps using the 200 Mbps powerline adapters I got for my friend, but her house was pretty new and the electrical wiring was top notch too. Disk sharing will hardly be better than ~3MB/s real-world, so you should be aiming for no less than ~30 Mbps actual throughput. Speaking of which, what's your cable speed?

Are you sure pulling some Ethernet cable is not an option at all? That would likely cost as much as an AP Express (or more depending on the distance), but it would solve your issues and make your LAN more future-proof at the same time.

Regarding cheap options, I doubt there's any AP Express competitor that offers both the same disk AND printer sharing capabilities in the same (pretty much) reliable way. The Express is no speed daemon (disk sharing - consumer NAS is always slow), but it does work and it's surprisingly easy to set up. In that sense it's a true Apple product. How about going refurb? A refurb Express (the new n model) is going for $85 right now, that's $14 off the regular price.
( Last edited by Simon; Aug 4, 2009 at 03:11 AM. )
     
Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: San Jose, CA
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 4, 2009, 04:52 PM
 
As much as I'd like to pull cable, and I do have a "puller," I think it would be really difficult. The attic (really only a crawlspace) is two floors above the living room, so I'd have to find an "intermediate" hole in the wall in the 2nd floor bedroom (or get a longer cable puller). Then, in the office, I'd have to cut a new hole in the wall, which I'm pretty sure would not meet the WAF (Wife Approval Factor).

I'll just get an AE (more hardware, ugh), and be done with it.

Steve

Edit: Crap. The refurbs ran out.
( Last edited by ibook_steve; Aug 4, 2009 at 05:01 PM. )
Celebrating 10 years and 4000 posts on MacNN!
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 4, 2009, 06:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by ibook_steve View Post
Edit: Crap. The refurbs ran out.
They'll be back.
     
Administrator
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: San Antonio TX USA
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 4, 2009, 09:47 PM
 
Steve, what's the basement like? Crawl space or full basement? Either way you can run Cat5 easily UNDERNEATH the house (much easier in a basement than a crawl space) and manage to get the cable from point to point.

Cutting holes in walls for outlet boxes should receive WAF because it will be easy, quick, cheap and best of all, look good. You want "old work" outlet boxes and RJ45 wallplates and jacks-all available at my local Home Depot and Lowes...for fairly cheap too.

One word of caution: make sure you don't go any deeper through the wallboard than needed-I once used a keyhole saw to go through a piece of wiring I didn't know was behind the wall I was putting a phone jack in... Not fun! Better to use a hobby knife or box cutter and make the cutout very gradually.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: San Jose, CA
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 5, 2009, 02:08 AM
 
No basement or crawlspace. This is California.

Steve
Celebrating 10 years and 4000 posts on MacNN!
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 5, 2009, 04:26 AM
 
Hey, I grew up in a house with a huge crawl space and that was in California too!

San Jose on the other hand...
     
Administrator
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: San Antonio TX USA
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 5, 2009, 07:58 AM
 
Originally Posted by ibook_steve View Post
No basement or crawlspace. This is California.

Steve
Just a slab foundation, eh? Crap. An option would be to do what the cable TV installers do and run cable AROUND the outside of the house, but that not only looks cheesy, it technically requires outdoor-rated cable and penetrating your walls in a way that could impair the weather seal AND the insulation...

FWIW, in Central Texas it's not really feasible to have a basement-there's usually less than 12" of soil over the limestone. And this time of year SUCKS for doing anything in an attic, since the outside temp is going to be around 100º, so the attic temp is going to be something like supernova-like.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
JTh
Fresh-Faced Recruit
Join Date: Sep 2007
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 5, 2009, 12:11 PM
 
I greatly apologize if I missed it...
1 - Your house doesn't have any other cable outlets?
2 - Does an AExpress allow itself to be the "main" router? (cable --> AE -- (wireless WDS) --> AEBS with the printer and hard drive(s) )? I would think you'd get decent speed through that.
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 5, 2009, 02:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by JTh View Post
2 - Does an AExpress allow itself to be the "main" router? (cable --> AE -- (wireless WDS) --> AEBS with the printer and hard drive(s) )? I would think you'd get decent speed through that.
Yes IIRC it does.

The problem is however again WDS. WDS will always decrease overall wifi performance. On top of that the Express has fewer and weaker antennas than the Extreme. Its range is more limited. For that reason you want to make sure the base station furthest away from most clients is the Extreme, not the Express.
( Last edited by Simon; Aug 5, 2009 at 04:42 PM. Reason: typo)
     
Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: San Jose, CA
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 5, 2009, 03:40 PM
 
My house does have cable outlets upstairs. However, they are for the satellite TV and the coax is all separate from the outlet downstairs in the living room. I will never have cable TV in my house. I feel dirty enough giving money to Comcast for Internet.

As for adding an Express into the mix, here's my plan now:

cable modem -> Extreme -> powerline to office -> Express (in g mode) -> printers & drive

In this way, my main machine can go n to the Extreme and get the best WAN performance (15-20 Mbps). My other devices, all g or b, connect to the Express. Then I can finally turn on WPA2 on both routers and have separate n and g networks that can talk to each other. This also avoids the WDS issues.

Steve
Celebrating 10 years and 4000 posts on MacNN!
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 5, 2009, 04:43 PM
 
Steve, sounds like a decent plan. Let us know how that works out for you.
     
   
Thread Tools
Forum Links
Forum Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On
Top
Privacy Policy
All times are GMT -4. The time now is 01:38 AM.
All contents of these forums © 1995-2014 MacNN. All rights reserved.
Branding + Design: www.gesamtbild.com
vBulletin v.3.8.8 © 2000-2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd., Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.3.2