I need to extend wireless range of Netgear DG834GT router

I have been asked to improve the range of a Netgear DG834GT wireless network to other parts of the building (hotel).  I had previously installed a Hawking high gain antenna which has improved the wireless coverage from no network to poor network, and now am looking at wireless range extenders to improve the situation.

I first purchased a US Robotics 5441 Range Extender but could not successfully configure it to repeat wirelessly from my DG834N. It could see the wireless signal, and reported that the router was WDS compliant,  but despite connecting wirelessly from the client to the USR5441,  I could not achieve wireless bridging and connect to the internet.

If I activated WDS support on the Netgear, the USR5441 no longer reported the router as being WDS compliant!

I then spoke to Netgear support, who assured me that a WPN802 (as reported on numerous other forum entries) would do the job, so I replaced the USR device with a WPN802 Access Point only to find that this would not communicate wirelessly either.  

Further Netgear support conversations stipulated that I now need TWO WPN802 APs to achieve the wireless bridge between different rooms, with one of them 'wired' to the Netgear router and WDS not involved/configured.    
 
Before I present the hotel with a equipment bill for £150 (two new WPN802 APs) I would appreciate some clarification on the following points:

a) Am I misunderstanding what WDS does? Does it not provide support for wireless bridging and alleviate the need for a additional, wired AP base station that would traditionally be used with a modem /router having no wireless facility?      

If my own DG834N supports point to multipoint WDS, why can't I just use a remote/wireless  WPN802 to extend the signal. Does Netgear do it differently from others? (I'm not clear on whether or not the DG834GT in the hotel is point to point or multipoint WDS but point to point would suffice for the moment).      

b) If what Netgear are saying is true, I need two WPN802 APs for every direction that I want to extend the signal into, since the APs must be 'serially' chained together. Potentially, to extend the range outward from a central point in the hotel I might need up to eight APs (base & remote for each compass direction) at a cost of £70 per AP (£560)

The USR 5441 seemed to be a single device solution at £40 (£320 using the above scenario). Have I misunderstood what the USR5441 range extender is for?

c) In your professional opinion(s), should I abandon Netgear DG834GT and WPN802 and purchase a different brand of WDS modem/router and 'single' range extender that will provide the same functionality, or perhaps even with WPA security (Netgear stipulate WEP only)?        


   
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Adrian BowdenAsked:
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Adrian BowdenAuthor Commented:
WelI, I managed to get it working by finding two Netgear WDS capable devices but the performance was so bad my customer decided to stick with what they had.

You can provide a wireless to wireless link to extend your network range but you have to hunt for the right equipment and it isnt very good when you get it working.
a) DG834GT began to support WDS as of firmware 1.02.14, but this has gone from later releases
b) Other routers support WDS on a random basis
c) Business APs support WDS but SOHOs do not.
d) Netgear business support is a lot better than SOHO and is permanent - not just 1yr from purchase. (Hi - I'd like to but some more kit to connect to my existing router - "I'm sorry; I can't help you").
 
I eventually got the DG834N router and WG102 AP to talk but you have to drop from 270/108mbps to standard 54G with WEP only, so any advantage gained by extending the coverage is spoiled by loss of 'extended'  features/range available in the DG834N.

In summary, don't bother. If you want to create a large wireless network, position your (business class) APs at strategic points to achieve the desired coverage and CONNECT EACH AP VIA CABLE to your modem router.
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amprantiCommented:
c) Abandon your current setup, buy Linksys or cisco (depending on your budget). Use separate cable until each point you will put the AP (repeaters will chop your bandwidth).
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Adrian BowdenAuthor Commented:
ampranti

Thanks for replying. Can you give me more detail?

a) I believe that Linksys are owned by Cisco - does that make them better/more robust?
b)  The whole point was to create a wireless bridge rather than cable across three rooms. Are you    saying that no wireless bridge setup will be adequate (even with reduced bandwidth)?

c) What sort of budget would you suggest as a minimum/usual for a router and wired acess point?    
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amprantiCommented:
a) Linksys is a cisco department now... :) Linksys network equipment are generally good
b) I dont like that kind of solutions. But if there is no other way, i would buy two cisco 1242 (both 802.11a and 802.11g interface on the same AP), create the backbone on 802.11a and configure clients on 802.11b/g

c) Minimum is defined based on your needs: area, distance, minimum requied bandwidth etc

Cisco equipemtn are costly (1242 cost around 700-800$ each - maybe you can find each ones to ebay)
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amprantiCommented:
Exactly what i post to my first post :)
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Adrian BowdenAuthor Commented:
ampranti

You did indeed state that the network setup should be router -> wire-> AP ->wireless -> client.
Thank you. I have absorbed your wisdom!

However, I needed to provide WDS support for the existing Netgear DG834GT to extend the wireless signal to one particular area of the hotel with a minimum cost outlay. The Linksys/Cisco costs you outlined above would have sent my customer running for the hills, and it was not feasible to run ethernet cable from the router to the AP, so Netgear WDS wireless extension, an "officially" supported solution, was what I needed specific help for.
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