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What is the best method to extend my wifi range?

Posted on 2014-10-07
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Last Modified: 2014-10-21
Hello,
I recently moved into a 2700 sq ft. condominium. I ordered 25/10 vDSL service through an ISP and am using a SmartRG SR505n as a modem/wireless router. Unfortunately, the signal does not reach my desktop in my room (desktop is using a Linksys  Wireless-N Extreme PCI Adapter).

I must extend the range of the WiFi to reach my desktop. Hard wiring is not an option (too messy / cluttered looking).

I looked at WiFi range extenders (the ones that plug into your wall) and realized this concept probably wont work well because of the shared circuitry design inherent in a condominium. My idea is to purchase an AP (Access Point) or router and use it to extend the range of my existing network. I believe the correct way to do this would be to configure the router/AP in BRIDGING mode.

I purchased a D-Link DIR-850L Wireless AC1200 Dual Band Router but once I plugged it in I quickly discovered I was unable to even set bridging mode on this router! (Or maybe I am wrong?)

Curious to hear suggestions from other EE users, as I am no expert in networking :) Thanks in advance for your time
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Question by:Sir Learnalot
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by:Sean Jackson
Sean Jackson earned 25 total points
ID: 40365931
You're on the right path, you need an extendor/bridge.  As to being able to set your D-Link as a bridge I can't speak to.  Check for firmware updates, google your exact model and "bridge" and you should find how to set your device up as a bridge.
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by:carlmd
carlmd earned 75 total points
ID: 40365987
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by:Sir Learnalot
ID: 40366163
@Sean Jackson

Apparently there is no official way to set my router into bridged mode...  cant even find any custom firmware or workaround for it... very unfortunate.

@carlmd

Those are both range extenders that plug into the wall.... My post explains how I cannot use those.
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Expert Comment

by:Don Johnston
ID: 40366213
shared circuitry design inherent in a condominium

Huh?  You mean that you don't have your own breaker box?  Even so, the power line extenders that I've used implement security so only traffic between the paired devices is permitted.
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by:carlmd
carlmd earned 75 total points
ID: 40366254
Please note that the range extenders (ID: 40365987 above) are not Power Lines Adapters, and do not use AC circuits for transmission, they just plug into an outlet. For Power LIne Adapters see:
               http://us.dlink.com/product-category/home-solutions/connect/powerline/

Also, the typical issue with power line adapters is they cannot cross a transformer (no physical connection). In the typical condo all circuits are fed from a circuit breaker panel in your unit. Hence, no transformer.
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Fred Marshall earned 400 total points
ID: 40366389
I would strongly suggest you pursue the power line adapter approach.  For one thing, it's inexpensive to try out and very easy to set up.  And, as others have pointed out, will likely work fine.  If others in the building share the same electrical "circuit" then be aware that the power line adapters operate with some number of "channels" and interference would be avoided because of that.  If security is a great concern then you'd have to assume a worst-case where the neighbor(s) would buy a similar unit to "connect" to your network.

Then, you can plug your new router into the Ethernet port on the remote adapter.
Like this:
Plug the near adapter with Ethernet into your existing router or modem/router and into a power outlet.
Plug the far/remote adapter into a power outlet and get them working.  Most now have lights to tell you this.
Plug the remote adapter with Ethernet into a LAN port on your new router.  Turn off DHCP on this router.

The new router will provide some number of Ethernet ports in the remote room and will provide wireless coverage as well.
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by:Sir Learnalot
ID: 40366654
Thank you all for your input. I'm going to try out some of the suggestions and let you guys know what works best within the next week. Thanks again everyone and enjoy the rest of your week!
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Author Closing Comment

by:Sir Learnalot
ID: 40393009
Thank you all for your feedback. I ended up going with the powerline approach. Although, I noticed my speed is literally cut in half! So at the router I get 25/10 (25 MB/s download and 10 upload) whereas at the other end of the powerline adapter I get max 10/10. I might as well have gone wireless... I'm considering getting a wireless AC PCI card for my desktop and getting a wireless AC router... I may end up getting better speeds at this rate. Any comments?
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Expert Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 40393372
The modern powerline extenders claim 500Mbps.  Perhaps that's half of what one would get on a GB Ethernet link.
So, perhaps 25 is "half sorta" of what one would get on a 100Mbps link.
Indeed, it appears that the 500Mbps claim is a bit of "specsmanship" as it counts data in *both* directions.  It is full duplex so that means "500" is "250" in either direction or 1/4 of full GB Ethernet for whatever reasons.
[Note: Even GB Ethernet can be less than 1,000Gbps depending on whether the cable is using 4 wires like Fast Ethernet or all 8 wires.]

If your router were GB capable on the LAN and then you used one of these faster extenders, I'd be surprised if your internet speeds were reduced over the link in any noticeable way.  

The benefit of the powerline adapter is less variability in your ability to connect with some reliability.  
It appears that being on the other "phase" or leg of the wiring can make a difference.  Many of the extenders have lights to indicate how it's working.  So, some selective use of outlets is often recommended.
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Expert Comment

by:Don Johnston
ID: 40393452
Interesting.  I have the Netgear Powerline 500 WiFi product.  I have a 50mbp/s internet connection and I see no loss of speed over the wired connection.  WiFi is only slightly slower.

Maybe try to tweak the settings?
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Expert Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 40393516
It appears that the Netgear Powerline 500 series of products would support 250Mbps in each direction.  So a 50Mbps link should not be affected per its spec's.

SirLearnalot didn't say that they were using extenders from the 500 series.  So, my assumption was that they were not doing so and, rather, an extender intended for 100Mbps Fast Ethernet links.

Perhaps the particular location of the extenders (i.e. AC outlet selection) wasn't optimum or even very good as in the "other" leg.
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Author Comment

by:Sir Learnalot
ID: 40394614
Hm, interesting. The lights on my unit are all solid green; indicating an optimal connection. This is the unit I got, which as far as I can tell is also a 500 series:
http://www.futureshop.ca/en-CA/product/id/10237456.aspx
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Expert Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 40395066
As I believe I mentioned, if you feed it with a 100Mbps Ethernet connection then that's going to be the max limit.

My assumption is that a good router and maybe even a switch with Gigabit capability can "bridge" between a 100Mbps and a 1,000Mbps connection by buffering.  This does *not* increase the overall data rate but *may* assure that the interim Gigabit link, with the D-Link included, would not be a limiting item.

So it might look like this:
100Mbps source <> 1Gbps link <> DLink <> 1Gbps link <> 100Mbps destination.

If this is actually the case then the speed would be limited to 100Mbps (best case, never seen) and the DLink would not further limit it.  Just a theory.  I've not investigated this at all!
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