How to Connect Multiple Wireless Base Stations

If you need to increase the range of your network, it is possible to do so by connecting wireless base stations to one another. Don’t be surprised if the range you actually get from your wireless router is less than advertised on the box. Instead, just buy another one and connect them into a wireless distribution system (WDS).

The box your wireless router came in probably said that your wireless router has a range of 300 feet. Perhaps that’s true on the moon, but obstacles on this planet easily interfere with a wireless network signal — obstacles such as wood and brick and especially metal. If you look around right now, you can probably see lots of wood and brick or metal. That stuff is hindering the wireless signal.

If all your wireless computers are in one room, a single wireless base station works just fine. But when you have dreams of darting around your house using a laptop or having that game machine in the den access the wireless network, you’re probably better served by using a second wireless base station.

The secret to using multiple base stations is to bridge the connections so that all your wireless hubs are part of the same network.

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To make WDS happen, the wireless router must have WDS capability. You can confirm it by reading it on the box or by checking the router’s configuration program for a WDS settings page.

With both WDS-capable wireless routers in range, you configure the first router (the one connected to the Internet) as the WDS main router, and the second as a WDS remote. Activating WDS for both routers spreads out the wireless network, giving you more access points but keeping all wireless connections on the same network.

You can even add a third WDS access point by setting up a third router as another WDS remote. It all depends on the router’s signal strength and the area being covered.

  • Creating a WDS depends on the abilities of the wireless routers. All routers involved must be able to be configured for a WDS. When there’s no WDS setup page for the router’s configuration, you cannot create a WDS.

  • The wireless router’s WDS configuration may require you to manually enter the other router’s MAC address. Find the MAC address by contacting the router, using your PC’s web browser; or, sometimes the manufacturer prints the MAC address on the bottom of the router.

  • You might have to configure all wireless routers in a WDS to use the same network channel, such as Channel 1 or Channel 11.

  • Some wireless routers can bridge to only one other router, and some can do “multipoint” bridging to create a larger WDS.

  • Setting up a WDS for multiple wireless routers isn’t the same thing as using the Bridge Connections command in Windows. By bridging a wired and wireless network connection on a laptop, for example, you allow network access to both networks.

  • By using WDS, you can have one wireless router connected to the Internet and then other wireless routers around your home or office that help distribute the connection to all the computers.

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