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How do I extend my network wirelessly?

I have a home network set up where my router is connected to an access
point. That access point talks wireless to another access point on the
property. That access point is then hooked to a PC with ethernet. I have just
purchased a laptop with wireless capability. My question is how can i access
the internet at the remote location wireless? Can i somehow use the 2nd access
point? Right now they are set up to only talk to each other.

What you describe as having could be done several different ways, so it’s
difficult for me to give a specific recommendation without knowing your
situation exactly.

However, it’s not at all uncommon for people to want to extend their
wireless network somehow, or use wireless technology to extend their wired
network.

We’ll look at a couple of ways to do that, and see if we can’t solve your
problem along the way.

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First let’s look at what I believe you’ve described:

Wireless using two access points

On the left we have your router sharing connectivity to the internet between
one or more computers and an access point. On the left, we have another access
point configured to act as a bridge, into which you’ve plugged your PC using an
ethernet or wired connection.

I’m assuming that the access point on the right is configured to act as a
bridge.

This is an important point. An access point and a bridge are not the same
thing. An access point is, as its name implies, a point from which other
devices can access the wireless network. The access point acting as a bridge on
the right, in this scenario, is one of those “other devices” – it connects to
the “real” wireless access point on the left. The way the bridge is used in the
scenario you outline, it’s very much like a wireless network adapter, allowing
your single PC on the right to connect to the wireless network.

As we’ll see in a moment, it can actually do a little more than that.

“An access point and a bridge are not the same
thing.”

I also want to point out that there are wireless devices that simple
are bridges. Rather than configuring an access point to “act like” a
bridge, a dedicated bridge is typically much simpler to set up for its
purpose.

Option 1

In your case, since you’re just adding a laptop to the mix, as long as it’s
in rage, I’m tempted to suggest that you go the simple route if you can:

Wireless access using bridge and laptop

In this case the laptop simply connected to the existing wireless network
via the access point on the left. No tricks or games, no additional hardware,
it’s just the normal way to connect a laptop to an existing network.

Option 2

If that’s not acceptable – perhaps the laptop is too far away from the
access point to connect solidly, my next option is to add a hub:

Wireless access extending wired network using access point and bridge

Here you can see we’ve placed a hub between the bridge and the wired
computer on the right, and connected the laptop to that hub. In fact, you could
add several additional computers to that hub, and they’d all be able to share
the wireless connection that the bridge provides. This is a common way to
extend a network when physical wiring isn’t an option.

Option 3

Of course, the previous option didn’t enable the wireless capabilities of
your laptop. To that, we need to add a wireless access point – actually acting
as an access point:

Wireless access extending wired network using access point and bridge to create second wireless network

The creates a second wireless network which is connected to the first. It’s
one approach to extending a wireless network beyond its initial range.

This technique creates what’s called a “repeater” – a bridge connected to an
access point. And, just like the bridges themselves, there are dedicated
wireless devices which are repeaters.

Caveat as you can see this scenario is not necessarily simple, and
it’s not a scenario I’ve actually implemented. In theory it should work.

The more common, and typically more stable approach to extending a network
is to use a wired backbone:

More traditional wireless network using a wired backbone

Naturally it relies on being able to run physical wiring to the location of
each access point. When that’s not possible, the bridged approach above is a
reasonable compromise. I tend to favor the wired approach, however, as being
less error prone and easier to maintain. If there’s a way I can run wire and
use only simple access points, that’s typically the direction I’ll design
things myself.

And finally, I do want to point out that these are only examples. Depending
on your own needs, your configuration will probably be different. Switches can
be used instead of hubs, you might have the ability to wire more computers, or
place wireless access points and/or bridges in ways that would be different
than the diagrams I’ve outlined above.

But hopefully I’ve provided some ideas and a starting point.

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14 comments on “How do I extend my network wirelessly?”

  1. Leo,,

    Good work..

    I presently have a Belkin setup utilizing a Wireless Router that has 3 “wireless” Access points conected to it.. I still had a range problem, so I connected another router in a Bridge configuration, wirelessly to the original router..
    On the Second Router I hung 3 additional wireless access points..

    Hence: Two Routers connected in a bridge configuration and 6 access points all extending the range of the Routers.. Only 1 cable from the PC to the Initial Router..

    Works flawlessly and serves many boxes ..

    Reply
  2. You can also use a Linksys WRE54G Range extender (repeater) out at the edge of the first access points signal and it will simply boost and repeat everything both ways wirelessly.

    Reply
  3. Hello Leo,

    nice work!

    I’m just trying tu set up the shared internet connection. Got 1 PC with DSL modem connection and notebook with wireless function. Bought an USB wireless adapter from A-Link to set up the connection between PC and notebook. It works, but I’m not able to set up the sharinf of internet connection on my PC…

    Any idea?

    Reply
  4. Dear sir,
    I have a dlink dsl524t router+modem that is connceted thru cat6 cable to dlink3200 access point at the first floor.i have another two access points for 2nd and 3rd floors.i need 2nd and 3rd floor internet via wirelssly connection i don’t want to run cat6 cable.i tried in wireless repetor mode (wds MODE)i put the mac address of all dlink aps and i put the same ssid same chanels but at 2nd and 3rd floor internet is not coming only iam getting at 1st floor. please help me sir.

    Reply
  5. Hi
    I had gone thru the posted article and its really informative.

    Now I got an issue.
    I got an internet connection to my house thru an eternet (RJ45) cable. The provider had issued a static IP address and my pc is configured to use internet.

    Is it possible to share this conection to another PC?

    What device will be better for this purpose.
    A router or an access point or…?

    Please propose me a better solution.
    Awaiting for your response.
    Best Regards
    Shyhas

    Reply
  6. Dear Sir
    I have a wireless router (linksys WRT54G) connected to a modem at the third floor. The range only extend up to the 2nd floor. At the 2nd floor, I have a wireless access point (linksys WAP54G). How do I configure the router and the access point so that i can extend the wireless range to the first floor?
    Thanks in advance

    Reply
  7. i want to connect my computer to the internet how but i dont how to go about it.i want you to hlep me pls,give me the step.

    Reply
  8. Fortunately, I can connect my new wireless access point at one of my house to an existing wireless router at the opposite end of the house via wire. My goal is to wander throughout my house with an iPhone that doesn’t know or care which of the two devices it is talking to. Both radios are using the same band and channel, and naturally the remaining wireless settings, e.g. SSID and security protocols are the same.

    Some people suggest the devices should use different radio channels to avoid overlap but then that’s precisely what I’m trying to achieve, isn’t it? I don’t know about other smart phones but the two iPhones my wife and I use seem very fussy when it comes to switching among WiFi nets and/or a cellular network. Thanks in advance for any thoughts or referrals.

    Reply
  9. I want to setup like Option #2. I currently have a wireless network but need to add a wired network area where I can not run a cable to connect 2 devices.

    Can you help?

    Reply
  10. You mentioned the problems of adding wireless to a Home network. Here is how I did it.
    Some of your readers might want to add a wireless “router” but not use it as a router, but to expand their network to include a wireless “router.” This uses the wireless capablities as a “switch” allowing wireless connections to the network. (In my case I ame using a used Netgear Cable TV modem that my son-in-law replaced for a newer one — I don’t mind saving a few bucks by using some one elses junk–and also save our world from the accumulation of junk — works for me).
    So here goes:
    Setting up a ADSL or Cable Modem for a wireless switch:
    After a reset, you need to do three things:
    1.Turn off the DHCP server
    2.Change the IP address to the 192.168.101.x subnet, on an address that won’t collide with anything else
    3. Set the wireless router configuration (just like normal i.e. WPA2 Ten digit password)
    Now you can access the wireless router by a notebook computer using the wireless connection.
    How this is done:
    To begin with, plug a computer into one of the ethernet ports on the router, and log into the configuration panel (usually 192.168.0.1
    after a reset).
    The two special settings are both under “LAN settings” on the router.
    Uncheck the box that says “DHCP server”. WARNING — after you do this, just plugging a computer into the router won’t work anymore;
    you’ll have to manually give the computer an IP address on the appropriate network.
    Changing the IP address is a bit quirky. First, you need to select an IP address that won’t collide with the addresses handed out by your
    other DHCP server (the one connected to the ISP on the Wireless Internet router). The Wireless Internet router router in our case was
    set to give out DHCP addresses above 100, so any address under 100 (other than 1) should be OK. Secondly, even though you’ve turned off the DHCP server, it still won’t let you set the IP address that overlaps with the dynamic range. So you have to change the start range from
    ‘2’ to ‘100’.
    That’s basically all I did as far as configuration. The only other thing to note is that things didn’t seem to work right for some reason when the other network was plugged into LAN port 1 (cable modem input) on the router; plugging
    it into other LAN ports seemed to work fine.

    Reply
  11. @Donald. Or you could just turn off DHCP and enable WAN to LAN bridging most router have that feature somewhere hidden or it can be used after you upgrade the firmware with custom firmware on your router. see DDWRT, OPENWRT or TOMATO for details.

    Reply

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