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WDS/repeater vs Range Extender

Posted on 2007-10-01
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I'd like to extend the range of my no-brand access point (without laying other cables). There seem to be 2 possibilities for this: either using another AP configured in WDS/repeater mode or using a Range Extender such as the dlink DWL G710.
Do you know what are the technical difference between these 2 kinds of repeating? I mean, which AP handles the association? what frames gets repeated? are they repeated exactly in the same way?
The Range Extender seems both simpler and more general (doesn't require the main AP to support WDS, supports WPA), but I guess there must be something worse in using a range extender wrt WDS otherwise I don't see why WDS should have been created/defined at all by 802.11.

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Question by:lbertacco
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by:jekl2000
ID: 20005961
WDS also provides bridging functions, bridging two wired networks together. There are no specs for bridging but WDS kindof laid the framework. WDS also provides a repeater function. A range extender is basically  a repeater but you can't use it as a bridge. Either one works..
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by:lbertacco
ID: 20006928
Thanks, however I was curious about the technical differences between a "Range Extender" and WDS in repeater mode. I don't need the bridge funcionality.
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by:jekl2000
ID: 20008710
The function is the same. The technical differences will vary among different manufacturers. These may include such things as transmission power (dbm), receive sensitivity (rated in dbm) the antenna (rated in dbi) and other things such as support for WPA or WPA2. The basic radio is the same in both and they both receive a signal and then re-transmit it.

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by:lbertacco
ID: 20009026
Ok those are hardware details of the AP. I'm referring to repeater protocol differences. For example WDS requires you to configure the MAC address of the repeater on the main AP and viceversa, while the "Range extender" doesn't need it. How is this MAC information used by WDS? And, as the range extender doesn't use it, does this mean that it repeats stupidly every frame, while WDS can be smarter?
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by:jekl2000
ID: 20009658
They both use the MAC address, it is just a little less obvious on range extenders.
Most I have seen, you enter the SSID of the existing network. In the 802.11 protocol, the BSSID which is =  to the MAC is transmitted in the beacon information. The range extender should only communicate with the SSID that you configure. This was done basically to make it easier on non-technical people who go "What's a MAC address"
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by:lbertacco
ID: 20012018
MAC and SSID are not the same thing. Also while I agree that the Range Extender can derive the MAC of the main AP from the SSID, with WDS the main AP must be configured with the MAC address of the repeater, while for range extenders, the main AP doesn't even know that a repeater is present.

One possible consequence is: suppose that client A is in range of the main AP and that a packet arrives for it. With WDS, the repeater is smart enough to know that it doesn't need to repeat that packet (so all clients in the range of the main AP don't get any performance degradation), but if the "Range Extender" repeats everything stupidly, it repeats even this packet, causing a bandwidth halving even for clients in the range of the main AP.
Another thing: is the "range extender" just repeats everything as is, why do we need to configure encryption details in its web config page? Does it decrypt and re-encrypt frames? Why? If so, then it doesn't just repeat everything. So it seems that both (WDS/range extenders) are not just stupid repeaters and both do something different. Do you know what are these differences or not?
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by:jekl2000
ID: 20017736
>>>MAC and SSID are not the same thing.

MAC and BSSID are the same in an Infrastructure environment. In Ad Hoc this does not apply. But as I said the range extender can derive the MAC, so  it has the SSID and it has the MAC so this makes it "not stupid".

The only thing I can think of on the security side, is that unless you have the key, it does not repeat it but that is just a guess.

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by:lbertacco
ID: 20021625
Yes thanks for your comments, anyway these don't answer my question at all. What I asked is technical differences between repeating with wds and repeating with range extenders. I already know that from a user point of view it may be pretty much the same.
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lbertacco earned 0 total points
ID: 20021631
I've found this few hints on WDS workings: http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/wireless/2003/08/28/wireless_bridging.html
Still not very technical and anyway nothing on the Range Extenders.
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by:jekl2000
ID: 20024833
Yes, that was worth a read. Thanks
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