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Wireless Networking Basics

Posted on 2004-09-06
Last Modified: 2013-11-09
Hi, im a little bit confused about the way wireless networks work and figure that you guys are the best people to ask.

I was under the impression that you could have a completely unwired basic wireless network. which could consist of:

1 wireless adsl router
several wireless clients (working in infrastructure mode)
and 1 or more wireless access points.

The wireless router would obviously distribute the broadband internet, but could also act as an access point to the wireless clients within its zone. But what i also thought was that it could also talk to other access points within its range (which by those access points could service any clients within their range)

so essentially, i could have a wireless adsl router, with three clients nearby it, and an access point further away in the building, which is also servicing 2 or 3 clients nearby that.  Can this be done? or do you still need some wired backbone?

i posed this following question yesterday but am now even more confused about how wireless access points and routers communicate with each other and service their nearby cleints  http://www.experts-exchange.com/Networking/Q_21119549.html

Could anyone please give me an overview of how wireless networks work, and the ins and outs of the reason and use of access points

Thanks in advance
Question by:scotlan
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Author Comment

ID: 11987605
if you take a look at the question i posted yesterday, you will see that the solution i have been given in order to service clients further away in the building was to hard wire access points.  This kind of defeats the purpose and its left me confused. i was always under the impression that you could just drop access points around a building, which would increase the network zone??!? :(

Expert Comment

ID: 11987885

I've used this site in the past to build my wireless network - http://www.vicomsoft.com/knowledge/reference/wireless1.html#1

Your right though you can use access points to boost the signal and range of your wireless routers, they do not need to be wired.

Expert Comment

ID: 11987949

There are essentially four modes the AP can work in:

1. AP mode. The AP is connected to a wired LAN and allows wireless clients to access it (normal)

2. Single Bridge. The AP connects two wired LANs together, via wireless link.

3. Multipoint bridge. The AP connects a wired LAN with several other wired LANs, via wireless Links.

4. Repeater Mode. The AP acts like an old fashioned wired hub, forwarding all the wireless signals it recieved to all points, allowing the range of a wireless network to be expanded, at the expense of total bandwidth. The repeater must be located within the range of the central AP, it forms a sort of blister of extended range.

You should be able to get the features that you want, i.e. Internet access at a remote spot by configuring the central AP in Access Point mode and all the others in Repeater mode with the MAC addresss of the central one in remote MAC address field. However, with more than one repeater you may find that the link speed for all users is very low.

Hope that helps, if it raises any more questions let me know!

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Author Comment

ID: 11991087
hey fatlad, ive read some of your posts before. you know what your talking about.

could you check out the question i posed here and maybe help with a solution?

Anyway, so i gather from what you guys have said, access points really only service their clients, but the ap's still need to be hardwired into the network.

so what about for a household network? where they may have a couple of computers and a laptop all wireless enabled. with an adsl router. but if the wireless signal cant reach some of the far ends of the house, how do we cater for those areas??

Expert Comment

ID: 11994334
You are too kind!

When access points are in access point mode you are correct they do have to be connected to a wired network, they function as a type of media converter if you like, taking the Ethernet frames from the Cat5 cable and converting them to wireless frames and vice versa.

The forth mode I mention in my previous post is slightly different and is the one you are after. I read your previous question and I think that some of the answers slightly misunderstood your requirement. You have a wireless router and a second wireless access point, you have a wireless laptop that you want to be able to use anywhere in the house. Some area are outside the range of a single access point.

Configure the router to be in Access Point mode, allowing you to connect your laptop directly to it. Find the edge of the high rate band from the router by walking with the laptop and noting where it drops from 11Meg down. Somewhere in between this point and the router place the second Access Point, this time configured in repeater mode, with the same SSID, and Channel as the router access point, with the router's MAC address in the relevant field.

If you then walk further way from the router you should see that you can now continue to access the Internet.

Let me know how you get on.


Expert Comment

ID: 12024598
Hi Scotlan

Have you had any joy with your wireless setup?



Author Comment

ID: 12060006
Are there any access points out there that can work in a sort of dual mode, being both in repeater or bridge mode at the same time as being in access point mode, basically to allow the ap to work without any lan wiring, but also being able to service any clients nearby it??

Accepted Solution

fatlad earned 125 total points
ID: 12062453
No because these are fundamentally different functions (normally):

 In bridge mode you will need some wiring it will work like this:

L    |                                                                                              | L
A  -|                                                                                              |-A
N    |-------------Bridge++++++++Wireless link+++++++Bridge---------| N
1    |                                       single channel                                  | 2

In repeater mode it will work like this

L    |                                                                                              
A  -|                                                                                              
N    |-------------AP++++++++Wireless link+++++++Repeater++++++++client(s)
1    |                                   single channel                                  

It would seem that you want the second one.


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