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What's needed to wirelessly connect two offices 100 feet apart?

My client has a home office with a cable modem and wireless router. About 100 feet from the house will be another office with a wireless print server. The router in the house will not reach the new office in the metal building, hence no internet and no printing. We don't mind running a cable between the two offices, but I don't know what hardware to use in the new office as a "repeater" to receive signals to run the print server and give everyone Internet access. Any suggestions?
I assume that the cable modem is wired directly to the WAN port of the wireless router. On the LAN side of the wireless router, I assume you have at least one Ethernet port, in addition to wireless connectivity. Most wireless routers have built-in 4-port hubs or switches, if for no other reason than to allow router setup and management.

If you have a free Ethernet port on the LAN side of your wireless router, that's where you'll start your cable...

run to the office 100 feet away. (If all your existing router's LAN ports are occupied, "add" ports by dropping another small switch from an existing LAN port.) Since part of that Ethernet cable is going outside, use outdoor-grade bridging cable instead of "regular" indoor Cat5 cable. Consider whether you need to lay conduit as well.

What goes at the far end of that cable run? If all the users in the new office are wireless, you could simply place an AP in that office, connecting the Ethernet port of the AP to the long cable run from the home office. This configuration is simple, but makes those new users depend on the wireless router in the home office for DHCP services. Alternatively, you could place another wireless router in that office, connecting the WAN port of the new router to the long cable run from the home office. This catch here is that print services are easier to share in a single LAN (AP) than across subnets (routers). Finally, if one or more users in the new office will be wired devices, use an AP or router with a few built-in LAN ports.

Your new AP/router and your existing router form two separate wireless LANs, with wired connectivity between them. If you go with a simple AP, you can give the new AP the same network name (ESSID) as your existing router so that stations can roam between them without reconfiguration. If you use a wireless router in the new building, it may be best to give the new device a different ESSID, since each building will have its own subnet with its own IP addresses, and roaming is likely to cause application interruption.

This was last published in June 2005

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