How to get wireless to a distant room?
January 6, 2011 4:38 PM   Subscribe

We need help extending a wired network via wireless to a distant office room. Which devices should we use to get this done?

We have a wired network in office but need to extend network to a room where Ethernet wiring is not available. We presently use a Linksys BEFSR41 router with 4-port switch that has all ports filled. To get a wireless connection to the distant room, we are thinking of doing the following: connect a Linksys EZXS55W 5-Port Workgroup Switch to router; connect a Linksys Wireless-G Access Point to the 5-Port Workgroup switch; place in distant room a Linksys WET200 Wireless-G Business Ethernet Bridge; and, then connect 4 Ethernet wire devices to bridge.

Will the above scenario work? If not, what devices (compatible Linksys brands would be fine) should we use to deliver the wireless connection to the distant room (less than 100' away), recognizing that BEFSR41 router will remain?
posted by kartguy to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is the "distant office" within wireless range of the nearest ethernet port?
posted by HuronBob at 4:50 PM on January 6, 2011

Have you looked into Powerline adapters?
posted by meowzilla at 4:52 PM on January 6, 2011

General comments on home/small business networking;
  • Only buy gigabit switches. Buy the ones that are cheap/onsale at Newegg/Amazon from major brands. I personally buy the metal cased Netgears.
  • Only buy wireless gear with 802.11 N, network gear (not clients like laptops/phones) should preferably be able to do dual band simultaneous transmission (meaning it can speak at both 2.4 and 5ghz at the same time).
  • Consumer routers acting as access points can be annoying to manage. Access points that are just access points are simpler, but often more expensive as they are usually marketed to businesses.
  • Quality (mostly talking of speed here) of wireless access points varies pretty wildly. See places like Smallnetbuilder for recommendations on that front. Don't obsess over getting the highest speed, just avoid the below average performers.
A solution;

The ISP connection plugs into the WAN port of the router.

An Airport Extreme Dual Band Simultaneous plugs into the router. Do not use the four switch ports on the airport extreme for clients. This airport will broadcast a 2.4ghz G/N and a 5ghz N signal.

A gigabit switch plugs into the router and provides ports for all the equipment in the first office.

An Airport Extreme Dual Band Simultaneous is in the far office and is acts as a wireless client to the wireless network created by the the airport in the first office. It should connect to whichever of the two wireless networks (the 2.4 vs 5ghz) network is stronger.

A gigabit switch plugs into this second Airport Extreme and provides ports for machines in the far office. Once again, do not use the ports in the back of the airport extreme for additional clients.

Notes: It may have changed since I last used Airport Extremes (a year ago), but performance for the wireless network (throughput and latency) suffered when more than one port was used. Yes, I got better performance hanging a switch off the airport and plugging multiple clients into that switch than to plug those same clients into the Airport directly.

You could also use Airport Express Wireless N devices, but they operate at only 2.4ghz and I think the option to be able to use which ever band is better for your building makes the Airport Extremes worthwhile.

Airports are configured using the Airport Utility which is available on Windows and OSX. There is no web interface for configuration.

I almost always suggest solutions that offer flexibility in the future. As such, I rarely recommend the cheapest options as whenever I do that, equipment gets thrown out or goes unused (or worse is forced into use inappropriately) not to long into the future when the needs change a little.
posted by fief at 5:44 PM on January 6, 2011

HomePlug Powerline Networking is pretty neat if it works acceptably in your building.

I was impressed with the Netgear Powerline AV 500 Kit I experimented with a few months ago.

A solution;

The ISP connection plugs into the WAN port of the router.

A gigabit switch plugs in to the router and provides connections for what is currently plugged into the router.

A powerline adapter plugs into the wall and plugs into the router.

In the far office, another powerline adapter is plugged into the wall.

A gigabit switch is plugged into this powerline adapter and provides ports for the client devices.

Notes: Do not mix different versions of the standard. Performance will go down if you do.

Do NOT mix other types of powerline signaling on the same powerlines.

The performance of the powerline networking varies wildly based on all sorts of things. In general, they should not be plugged into power strips or anything with surge/spike suppression/protection.

Like wireless, you will never get anything close to the speed advertised.
posted by fief at 5:50 PM on January 6, 2011

I do this for my home office. I took an old Linsys WRT54G router and turned it into an access point with DD-WRT.
posted by yerfatma at 6:09 PM on January 6, 2011

Second yerfatma - used a leftover Linksys wireless router, connected to a wired router but I turned off DHCP and let the wired router handle dishing out IP addresses. It's been working for 2 years, no problems at all.
posted by brownrd at 6:13 PM on January 6, 2011

Thirding, but maybe you should consider losing the current router.

Replace your BEFSR41 with a WRT54G with DD-WRT (it has 4 ethernet ports plus the WAN port). Put another WRT54G DD-WRT in your unwired room and configure it as a bridge. Plug your 4 remote hosts into the bridge and you're happy.

The fewer devices connecting your network, the better. Makes for easier troubleshooting.
posted by Mountain Goatse at 7:54 PM on January 6, 2011

Seriously reconsider using wireless. Really look into what it'd cost to install wire. By using a wired connection you eliminate a whole range of hassles. It just works and generally stays working. The money spent now to get it wired will very likely be a lot cheaper than never-ending debugging hassles with wireless.

If you insist upon bridging your solution is generally the right way to approach it. Wireless devices on each end, separate from any other local wireless, lets you treat the connection as just a link between the locations. This is a lot less trouble than fiddling with other sorts of wireless extending that attempt to share an existing wireless network.

Personally, I've had bad luck with powerline devices. Their performance was terrible, they were rather expensive and they tended to die unexpectedly. Perhaps they're less worse lately.

But I still say running wire is usually a lot less trouble in the long run.
posted by wkearney99 at 5:18 AM on January 7, 2011

Response by poster: Great information, thanks. It's good to get confirmed that our hypothetical wired-wireless scenario would work. I've also had good experiences with wireless implementation and bad experiences.

I too would prefer doing Ethernet wired as some have recommended. We will re-visit the wiring issue with the landlord again - she would have to okay it. With that said, our office now has a potential wireless solution if we can't convince her to provide Ethernet wired connections.
posted by kartguy at 4:12 PM on January 7, 2011

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