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Proper Setup for Multiple Access Points

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rmiller1959

Regular Contributor
I have three Linksys WAP54G access points, one on each floor of my house. I've set each of them up using the exact same configuration - the same SSID, WPA2-Personal security setting, the same network key, even the same channel. Everything appears to be working fine but I wanted to be sure that I've optimized my configuration. Is it best to have them broadcasting on the same channel or should I set them for different channels? Is there anything else I should know about configuring and operating multiple access points?

Also, would my wireless coverage noticeably improve if I replaced the stock antennas with the Linksys HGA7T high gain antennas? They're two-thirds the price of the individual access points themselves and not worth the investment unless they offer dramatic performance improvements. I'd greatly appreciate any help!
 
Same SSID, unique IPs for each one of course, and do different channels. 1,6,11. Some models do fine with channels set to "Auto". You can also get them working better by flashing with DD-WRT.
The hi gains can help a bit. Here's a good source for higher performance wireless peripherals
http://www.fab-corp.com/home.php
 
You might consider assigning different SSIDs to each AP. Normally, you would assign the same SSID. But most wireless clients are set to be very "sticky" and don't switch to another AP until they lose the signal from the one they originally associated with. This means they will stay connected with low throughput instead of switching to an AP that would provide higher throughput.

With different SSID's you will probably need to switch manually, but at least you'll be able to select the AP you want to connect to.
 
"Stickiness" might not be a problem

Hi, Tim,

I was hoping that by using the same SSID and WPA2-Personal network key, my two technophobe laptop users could roam from floor to floor without having to manually switch APs. As an experiment, I connected with the AP on the first floor and got a "Very Good" signal (it was in the next room over), then carried the laptop to the basement where the second AP is located and got an "Excellent" signal without having to do any manual switching. My assumption is that it automatically picked up the signal from the basement AP and that it was stronger because I was in the same room as the AP. Am I incorrect in assuming that?

If this setup is indeed working as I'd hoped and allows roaming, should I change the channels to be unique to each AP or just leave well enough alone? Unfortunately, none of the APs have the option to set the channel to Auto.
 
Move between the two locations again and watch to see if the connection momentarily drops, then reattaches. If it doesn't, then you are probably not switching APs.

Another way to tell is to shut off the basement AP, then repeat the experiment.

You should have your APs on separate channels. Otherwise they are just competing with each other. Set them to Channel 1, 5 and 11 as YeOldeStoneCat suggested.
 
Different wireless NICs behave differently...some will "let go and re-attach" to another AP fairly quickly, others....have a hard time letting go and switching.

Keeping the SSIDs the same allows you to not have to go to each laptops network config and attach to the "other" SSID that you just roamed closer too.

Now..the laptop users who are roaming..what are they running? If it's just internet stuff...that quick "let go/reconnect" usually doesn't affect most things. However, some online stuff is very IP session based, usually very secure online web based apps, so if you even briefly disconnect, it will balk at you. However, I'm guessing "roaming" laptop users won't be doing that. Some locally hosted software applications may not like it either..having that brief disconnect. So....looking towards WDS may be a better solution for you, however..it can come with difficulties too.
 
Well for me I use the same SSID and same channel an they switch correctly the WAPs. Those wireless laptops nearby WAP #2 use that one. At times they use the WAP #1 which is on my second floor. Adding WCB (wireless client bridge) will use WAP #1 if it's use on that floor. The 2 WAP and the 1 WCB are using DD-WRT. Frankly I never have to do anything with those and DIR-655.
 

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