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Settings for laptop to switch to strongest wireless signal

Posted on 2014-10-02
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Last Modified: 2014-10-14
I am working with someone who has a 4 story, 5,000 sq ft house built in the 1930's.

We are using R7000 Nighthawk router and a EX6200 WIFI Range Extender.

The SSID of the NIghthawk is Albany.  The SSID of the extender is Albany-EXT.

The 4 users all have laptops and roam about the house. What is happening is that they may have a very strong signal in one part of the house from Albany... but as they move to another part of the house, that signal fades... and Albany-EXT increases... but the laptop does not switch to the stronger SSID.

What settings (either router/extender or PC) should I be looking at to facilitate their devices switching to the strongest signal?

Should I make all the SSIDs the same?

The PCs are W7, W8, MS Surface.

Thanks for any suggestions.
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Question by:Tomster2
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choward16980 earned 167 total points
ID: 40357354
Here's a good write up on the topic.  To answer shortly, yes, same SSID's.

http://www.labnol.org/software/add-router-to-wireless-network/19716/
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by:Joshua Grantom
ID: 40357361
Changing them to the same SSID could cause issues because the wireless devices cannot tell the difference and will jump back and forth between the two. This will cause an unreliable browsing experience.
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by:choward16980
ID: 40357412
He is having an unreliable browsing experience.  I've set up a 30+ node WAP network using 40$ routers, setting every device the same SSID, following that link I provided.  This is the way to do it.
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by:Joshua Grantom
ID: 40357442
As long as they are all on the same IP subnet yes, That is also assuming they can be connected with network cable. Using an extender usually means they do not have access to a network jack or cable in that area.
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by:t_hungate
t_hungate earned 167 total points
ID: 40357545
This is a pretty standard issue, and unless you are using AP that have some sort of a controller or an application of the device to handle the AP switching when a specified signal strength is reached it is difficult.

The situation depends on do you have the ability to connect the router and the AP via a cable or do they need to be wirelessly connected? This would use a standard repeater bridge in one of 2 configurations.  Your either wire the router and AP then connect hosts via wire or wireless, or you connect the router to the AP wireless and you will only be able to connect devices to the AP via cable as your wireless capability in the AP are being used to sustain the link to the router.

Instructions for these can be found on the DD-WRT site.  The issue is still how and when to switch between the AP and the router.  This normally occurs only when the signal is so low that the connection drops and forces the device to search for nearby networks again.  Provided you are using the same SSID and credentials the device would connect to the stronger of the two network sources.
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Assisted Solution

by:Craig Beck
Craig Beck earned 166 total points
ID: 40358477
Set the APs to use the same SSID.  If the APs are connected wirelessly, they must use the same channel also.  If both APs are wired together, use different channels or you'll cause co-channel interference and that will upset your connection.

Roaming is determined based on a set of thresholds.  If you move between APs you won't connect to the other AP until the thresholds have been reached.

Let's say the thresholds used are RSSI and SNR.  The NIC might not want to roam until the signal strength (RSSI) falls below -75dBm, and the SNR falls below 20dB.  If you move to an area where another AP is stronger you won't necessarily connect to that AP automatically if you still have a signal from the original AP which is still within the thresholds.

Now, when you move from an AP and the thresholds are reached, you may not be in sight of an AP with a better signal.  In this case, again the connection would not move to the other AP.

If, however, you move to an AP with a better signal strength and SNR once the threshold has been reached you would move to that AP.  That automatically means though that you won't bounce between the two APs because you haven't passed the thresholds (otherwise you wouldn't have roamed in the first place).

Clear as mud?? :-)
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Expert Comment

by:nattygreg
ID: 40358690
To make the hand off seamless, you have to make both sids the and the same password, then it will switch over to the stronger signal.
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by:choward16980
ID: 40359950
Above is great information that Natty posted.  I will tell you, the DD-wrt wireless bridging to each other and then rebroadcasting a second SSID was a disaster.  It would work, but when 1000+ users would saturate the network, the devices would crawl...  I was told you need a device with at least a 1GHz proc and 16MB memory for that function to work as desired.  The wrt54g's I used only had 8MB.
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by:Craig Beck
ID: 40360237
To make the hand off seamless, you have to make both sids the and the same password, then it will switch over to the stronger signal.
...but only if the thresholds have been reached.
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Author Comment

by:Tomster2
ID: 40360249
Thanks for the comments.  Right now the Extender connection to the router is wireless.

When the computers are in the area of the Extender, they can get an excellent connection to the extender.

So not sure what the comment "you connect the router to the AP wireless and you will only be able to connect devices to the AP via cable as your wireless capability in the AP are being used to sustain the link to the router."  We are definitely wireless with both.

We only have four users + visitors... so I am going to try to set the extender to the same SSID and see what happens. Will report back. Thanks for all the comments so far.

One other question... are their options I can set on the NIC to facilitate the switching to the stronger access point?
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Author Comment

by:Tomster2
ID: 40381099
I was not able to set the extender to the same SSID. On the R7000 I had previously set the 2 and 5 Ghz SSIDs to the same name. When I tried to set the extender the same way...  it would not accept it. Odd that I could do it on the router, but not the extender.

In any case, I advised the client that for now, when things look slow... check the access point that they are connected to and change if necessary.
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