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)?