Confused by how to extend wireless range. (LONG)

I have a D-Link DWL-800AP+ sitting on my desk right now that Newegg sent me instead of a DI-614 on accident. I can't believe this thing goes for $85 on their site, it's tiny. The reviews are not that good either, check

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Michael Shaffer
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Sorry for the long-winded post, but really didn't know how to ask particular questions in a short form. :/

I've had a wireless network for a couple years now, however I am currently looking how to extend the range of my network and must admit that I have a mental block!

My network consists of primarily D-Link's "AirPro" (now discontinued, unfortunetly) family that incorporates 802.11a / 802.11b. When I started putting my network together, 802.11g was just about to emerge. After doing a lot of reading, I decided to just go ahead with 802.11a instead of waiting for 802.11g. During the last couple years, I have been extremely satisified with my 802.11a (and 802.11b) WLAN, which has proven itself to be rock solid. One of my main applications I use 802.11a for is to access a file server that I use for various video applications such as storing captured video, editing, etc. The file server is simply just an old P3 tower that I stripped down, threw an 802.11a card into, and then hid in a closet. Over the course of the last couple years, I've added additional HDD space on a regular basis. (It currently has 1.2 Terabytes of HDD.) I primarily use my new laptop to do the actual video work and, as can imagined, such application requires the transfer of enormous amount of data.

802.11a has proved itself to be seamless and I've been more than pleased with it's performance. (All of my 802.11a is D-Link, taking advantage of it's 108 MBS "Turbo Mode". Of course, actual throughput is not 108 MBS, but its efficient enough that it seamless for what I do.)

In addition to 802.11a, I'm also using several 802.11b clients -- primarily with just stuff that only needs to talk on the internet such as a PDA, a bridge being used for game consoles, etc. They have all been working wonderfully as well.

My router/AP is the D-Link DI-764 Multiband/Multimode (802.11a, 802.11b, 4 hard ethernet ports). No complaints with it, it has worked wonderfully over the last couple years. One of many folk's complaints about 802.11a is that it's range is limited, as compared to 802.11b/g. Having used 802.11a for a couple years now, I can attest that is a valid concern -- however, I believe that operating in 5 Ghz (cleaner spectrum) has been an advantage for transfering massive amounts of data around on WLAN -- as on occassion, I do sometimes get RFI with my 802.11b from my cordless phones. I haven't done any range comparison between the two, but I do know that my neighbor does see a faint (5 percent) 802.11b signal coming from my house (I also see a faint 802.11b signal from him), however he does not see my 802.11a signal. Both my 802.11a and 802.11b saturate almost my entire house, however, with the exception of one area (recently remodeled). I'm now wanting to extend my wireless into this section of the house and have been looking at these so-called "repeaters" and "wireless extenders" -- which is causing some head scratching.

It appears that the word "repeater" is being thrown around by manufacturers to define different functionality. Even the same manufacture seems to throw the word around carelessly to define "repeating" functionality with different pieces of hardware.

When I think of a "repeater", I think of network transparent, stand-alone, device that simply just re-transmits and receives for a remote AP. In essence, I think of a "repeater" as being a "remote antenna" for an AP. Some of the manufacturer descriptions that I have been reading, however, seem to state otherwise (i.e., a "repeater" connects two seperate AP's. I'm assuming that, in this scenerio, the second AP is configured identically like the first -- i.e., same SSID/channel/encryption.) Am I in error by thinking that I could use a "repeater" without having to add another AP? Can't clients just simply connect to the "repeater", which in turns relays back to the remote AP to do all that is needed to get it talking (i.e., assigning an IP through DHCP)?

In other words, would this not work? Cable Modem --> Router/AP --> Repeater --> Clients

I was hoping that a "repeater" was something relatively simple. I.e., you just figure out where your signal begins to drop off at, configure a "repeater", and put it in that location. I was under the impression that the ethernet port on the "repeater" was simply so you could just connect it to a PC in order to configure it. Once configured, it was just a stand-alone device that simply was just RF in - RF out. If that was the case, then I also assumed that you could even link multiple repeaters in order to take your signal out even further.

The more I have been reading product descriptions, the more blurry this has become. I see there are many devices that also act in various modes (AP, repeater, bridge, etc). I'm at a lost as to which is my best option. I would like to stay within the D-Link family, in order to continues to take advantage of their "Turbo Modes" (802.11a being 108MBS, and 802.11b being

22MBS) as I am doing so with everything else.

Devices I have my eyes on (so far) include:

  • D-Link DWL-800AP+ Wireless Extender This guy, from what I have read, does seem to be the type of "repeater" that I'm thinking off. Its also the only one I have encountered that uses the term "Wireless Extender". (Is that different than a "repeater"?) This is an 802.11b (also does D-Link's "Turbo Mode"). Its looking the most attractive of all I have been eyeballing, but if possible I would prefer to get something that can repeat both 802.11a and 802.11b. From the FAQ's on their website, it is stated to be compatible with my DI-764 router/AP.

  • D-Link DWL-900AP+ Wireless Access Point This is one of those animals that has various "modes" (AP, bridge, repeater). Its also 802.11b only, but does incorporate D-Link's "Turbo Mode" (which seems to be the only difference between it and DWL-700AP). For all it's functionality, I would prefer it over the DWL-800AP+, however its unclear if the "repeater" works in the fashion that I have in mind. It uses the term "repeater" and not "wireless extender". From the description, I can't determine if by "repeater" it means my "remote antenna" analogy or a "AP to AP bridge" analogy. From the FAQ's on their website, it is also stated to be compatible with my DI-764 router/AP.

  • D-Link DWL-7000AP (or DWL-7100AP) Not to be confused with DWL-700AP mentioned above. (Why does D-Link love giving products ID's so similiar with one another? LOL). If I knew, with full certainty, that either ones of these would work with my DI-764, I would not hesitate to jump on it. They are the most expensive choice, however are capable of 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g. They are both capable of repeating 802.11a and 802.11g, however don't repeat 802.11b. I could easily also just pick up a DWL-800AP to repeat. The DWL-7000AP, oddly, is more expensive than the DWL-7100AP. The DWL-7000AP belongs to D-Link's "Air Xpert" family, while the DWL-7100AP belongs to D-Link's "Xtreme G" family. Not really sure of what the differences in "families" are, have to read up on that. I am leaning more towards the DWL-7000AP, as my initial feeling is that if either works with the DI-764 it will be this one. The DWL-7100AP doesn't list the DI-764 as one of the routers it can repeat, while the DWL-7000AP makes subtle mention that it will repeat any D-Link 802.11a/g router/AP. The DWL-7100AP also makes mention (and defines) "WDS" (Wireless Distribution System) that basically, from what I can, is used to link and coordinate AP's together. This "WDS" also seems to find itself, on other devices, labeled as "repeating" through market-speech. Perhaps this is what led to my confusion of the defition of "repeater". The DWL-7000AP looks very attractive, but I would like to confirm if it works with the DI-764. Emails to D-Link's customer service have never been answered. I'll probably have to telephone. Seems, on the surface, to be the peg I'm looking for. It's capability for 802.11g is also a strong selling point, as while I won't be using 802.11g in the near future, down the road the now-emerging "wireless devices" (media players, cameras, etc) may be looking attractive -- and they all seem to be gear towards 802.11g. This DWL-7000AP, if compatible to repeat my DI-764's 802.11a, seems like the perfect choice for now and future expandibility. The core of my WLAN is
802.11a and I have far too much (money and time) invested to make any migration to 802.11g. Plus, I've been more than pleased with 802.11a. Down the road, however, I would most likely begin using it as an AP rather than a repeater, which leads me to another question. If my thinking is right, I wouldn't have to get another router at that time since the DI-764 would still take care of all the routing? I.e., I wouldn't want to use the DWL-7000AP to create a new 192.168.x.x network, but to simply just expand on the existing one.

Advise and comments are much appreciated!



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Your assumption is correct. The Ethernet port is just for configuring. Once configured it acts as a standalone unit to "repeat" the signal. I use a DWL-700AP as a repeater and it works fine. I believe the throughput is halved (i.e. to 11mbs) as half is used for the receive signal and the other half to transmit but for webserving and normal use it doesn't really notice. Just set it up with the network SSID and WEP. Also remember to change the IP address from if it is already used by your other D-Link kit.

Cable Modem --> Router/AP --> Repeater --> Clients is exactly how it is set-up

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Yeah, I actually have a DWL-810+ (Wireless-Ethernet Bridge), which is very similiar to this "DWL-800AP+ Wireless Extender". (Its physically appearance is, at least, almost identical.) There really isn't a whole lot to the DWL-810+ either. I picked it up a little while back for $60, simply to bridge a game console into the wireless loop. Agreed that $85 is quite a lot for the DWL-800AP+, which is pretty much just a simple device. I've actually been eyeballing the DWL-800AP+ on Ebay, which several people are hawking for ~$20 each (although they are also hedging off $16 shipping and handling). These are refurbs, which normally I would shun away from -- but thinking for such a simple device a refurb may not be something to worry over. (There must be a refurb supply of these things going on, as several people are hawking them on Ebay.) Anyway, my plan (if I chose to play around with these things) was to get one, ensure that it does work, and then possibly go back for another (or two). For just $35, it didn't seem too risky.

After writing everything out in previous post, everything started making more sense. Earlier today, I think I was "reading too far into it" and driving myself into circles. (Had like 14 windows open, reading specs/reviews/etc. LOL). Now, with things making sense again, leaning very strongly towards the DWL-7100AP. Figure, I'll use it simply just a repeater for a while and then later, if I want to start bringing in 802.11g, I can switch it's mode to an access point. Thinking I'll continue to use

802.11a for my big WLAN pipes, 802.11b for internet access, and later 802.11g for the "cool internet-enabled stuff" such as media players, broadband phones, etc. :^)

Thanks for the comment!

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"Tony" wrote

Awesome! Thats great to know that it is that simple. I was "reading to far into everything" and had myself totally confused! :^)

I just looked at this DWL-700AP that you mentioned (this is the "2.4 Ghz Wireless Access Point"?) and it appears to be very similiar to both the DWL-7000AP and DWL-7100AP (both are tri-band, 802.11a/b/g) and they are very similiar in "mode features". (Why DLink insists on model numbers that are so similiar, I don't know. Maybe just to cause confusion. LOL) Also looked at the "emulator" for the DWL-700AP setup on Dlink's website and its structured very similiar to the two I'm considering. The DWL-7100AP

802.11a/b/g is a newer model (and includes the "turbo modes"), but strangly the DWL-7000AP 802.11a/b/g is still being retailed for $90 more even though it doesn't do the "turbo modes". The only difference in the product description is that the DWL-7000AP 802.11a/b/g makes mention of an embedded DHCP server, however the DWL-7100AP 802.11a/b/g also has an embedded DHCP server as well. I played around with both of the "emulators" and read both of their manuals, and they both do DHCP. The only difference (outside of "turbo") I can see is that the 7000 allows about 6 more MAC filters to be entered than the 7100. Strange. (Maybe DLink manufactured more 7100's, allowing them to retail for less?) Anyway, this looks exactly like what I'm looking for (DWL-7100AP) now.

I'll initially be using the DWL-7100AP as a repeater, but down the road probably will switch it's mode an "access point" to take advantage of

802.11g later. Thinking of keeping 802.11a for large WLAN pipes, 802.11b for internet, and 802.11g down the road for "internet-enabled" devices like media players and broadband phones. I'll be confused again then, I'm sure. Main thing I'm confused about (adding a an "access point" to an already existing network) is if you can use it to "extend" the same network. I.e. can the second AP be used to put clients on, say, the same 192.168.x.y net that the Router/AP (connected to cable modem) has put together? If so, I'm assuming the "second AP" is assigning IP's by it's DHCP and would, somehow, have to coordinate itself with the Gateway's Router/AP's DHCP. Are they "smart enough" to do this? This might be that "WDS" (Wireless Distribution System) that I was reading about, that "synchronizes" AP's together. (?) Since my DWL-764 doesn't have this "WDS" feature, I wonder if when I choose to use the second AP that it'll have to be set for a whole new net (i.e., say, 192.169.x.y). Now, if my thinking is right, in order to get a 192.169.x.y talking with a 192.168.x.y, you'd have to throw another router into the mix? My (perhaps flawed) understanding of the definition of a "router" is something that is used to connect two seperate networks. (?). I.e., the router I'm using now is connecting my 192.168.x.y to the internet. Well, maybe "router" isn't the right word for these things anyway. I bet CNCE certified folks would rather see them called "Gateways" than "Routers". Sorry, for throwing out even more questions. :/ I'm probably "reading too much into" it again. Probably should just get it and not try to make it more complicated than it needs be. LOL.

Thanks for the info! Looking forward to just getting one of these multi-mode AP, repeater, bridge, thingies. :^)

Reply to

As far as I am aware the DWL-700AP is 802.11b compatible only (not 11g) so you will have to go for one of the other models.

I like to keep things simple and use a DWL-700AP in client mode plugged into a switch to link a wired network to the wireless one. I've just looked at the D-Link website and it appears that they have discontinued the DWL-700AP much to my dismay!! It seemed to solve any wireless networking problem I had!!

I would of thought the AP to AP bridging option would work in the same way. Just set up and plug into a switch/hub to joint the networks together. They would all receive IP addresses from the one DHCP server (router/AP).

I don't think you will see any advantage using 802.11g for internet use as the speed will be restricted by the speed of the internet connection (ADSL for home is usually 1mbps to 2mbps max) so a 802.11b at 11mbps (its not

22mbps as I previously mentioned - it was late at night!) is more than enough to handle it.
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