What is better for a small network? 1 WAP + 2 Extenders or 2WAP's?

We have a NetGear Nighthawk X6 and purchased two EX6200 extenders to extend our wifi.

My boss has been less than impressed with the ability of the extenders and he is looking to try something a little different but I am wondering how it all works, exactly. Perhaps someone with more in-depth knowledge of this type of configuration could school me a little bit. Because to be completely honest, I think he is making assumptions the same way I am, but they are conflicting.

My boss seems to think the extenders are crap, because they take an already degraded signal and just re-broadcast it, which to me, seems perfectly acceptable. This is what your mobile phone provider does all over the planet. Their networks are a vast network of "extenders" which are termed "repeaters" in that industry, that do exactly this. He is convinced that if I am connected through an extender, that is then talking back to the router, I am getting a doubly-crap signal. He wants the two extenders to be hardwired back to the NightHawk and basically transmitting a "brand new" wireless signal from both locations at which the Extenders are positioned. This is not an option with our Extenders (or any that I have seen), they only grab an existing wifi connection and re-broadcast.

His idea is to get a second NightHawk X6 and place them at opposing ends of our building to cover everywhere. He want's to run Cat6 all the way back to our switch for each router. So basically if you are on the East end of the building, and walk to the west end while doing something via wifi, you don't just hop along the extenders, you drop off the router completely and get an entirely new IP address from the other WAP. Instead of one WAP hard-wired to the switch, with two strategically placed extenders, he wants two WAP's hardwired back to the switch, negotiating their entirely separate conditions and address ranges. To confuse, he wants it to ACT like an extender in that he wants them to both have the same SSID & security settings, so devices can connect to either one without changing anything.

This is really frustrating me because I can't find a definitive answer saying "this can't be done" but I really feel like the extenders are the right way to go.

Any help that might be available through this community would be greatly appreciated!
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Craig BeckCommented:
'Repeaters' are crap - your boss is correct.

WiFi is half-duplex, so for every hop (or repeater) you lose half your bandwidth at each hop in the chain.  So if the main AP is 54Mbps, the repeater will achieve 27Mbps at best, then the repeater connected to that repeater will achieve 13Mbps....

That's just the physical data rate.  The actual throughput is halved too.  So, the first repeater connects at 54Mbps but its available throughput is halved instantly, but then a client connects to the repeater so his throughput is 13Mbps max too.

The absolute best way to go is to cable all of the APs back to a switch.  That provides the maximum available throughput for clients at each AP.  Extenders (not repeaters) will do this.  They just act as access points.

The boss' idea of adding another router, cabled back to the original router, is a good plan.  He is also right to use the same SSID, encryption and authentication settings.  Just use different channels.

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I definitely agree with CraigBeck.  My only other addition would be to say that it probably better to not put the AP's at each end of your building.  Depending upon your building size, of course, you might want to bring them each to a halfway point on each side.  This maximizes signal strength.
andreasSystem AdminCommented:
Another point is, each AP can only support a certain amount of clients without degrading performance too much, thus is due to the above mentioned half duplex issue.

If you use repeaters you will have the problem as stated above.

If you use 2 APs then you should configure them on 2 dirrerent non overlapping channels, which ones to use depends also on other w-lans around and should be found out on site looking at the w-lan frequency usage there. There are some free andoid apps which can be used for that.


So afterwards you have 2 APs on non conflicting channels so you actually have doubled the number of clients your wlan can carry (given the clients are evenly distributed within the coverage area of the APs and not most of them want to connect to a specific AP as its closer and gives a better field strength)
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BrianK007Author Commented:
Thank you guys. We have returned the extenders and purchased to R6700 AP's to replace them. I think this will work well for our purposes.  

We still have one debate between my boss and I, but we are going to go with my suggestion until we see problems, which I am convinced we won't.

He suggests we hardwire each of the three AP's back to the small switch provided to us by Comcast. Run them all as full blown WAP's giving out their own IP's, but set reservations on each one so that WAP 1 gives 50 - 100, WAP 2 gives 101-150 and WAP 3 gives 151-200. To me that seems overly busy and definitely the wrong approach.

My suggestion was to wire the 2 6700's straight to the NightHawk R8000 and run the two 6700's in bridged mode. Use the same SSID for both the 5GHz and 2.4, with them using different channels. I think that is the proper way to do this. They should be arriving today. Thanks so much for the feedback!
Craig BeckCommented:
Run them all as full blown WAP's giving out their own IP's
Generally if you do this they won't act as a DHCP server.

In any case, you should only use one as a DHCP server in this scenario (the one acting as the router) as they'll all give out their own IP address as the default-gateway and that will cause the clients getting their IP addresses from the APs to get no internet access.
andreasSystem AdminCommented:
Set one In router mode, or use the current router/gateway and let this device do all the DHCP and gateway stuff, and configure the 2 new devices in AP only mode with same SSIP and KEY as the original WLAN.
Connect them on the LAN sind of the current router, this way all APs are in the same net and clients can move smooth from ony AP to another without any disruption.
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