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Creating a wireless bridge to connect clients distant from APs

Learn how to use one Wi-Fi module for creating a wireless bridge in order to connect clients that are distant from your access points (APs), in this expert response.

I have a number of Wi-Fi clients that are distant from my AP, so I would like to develop a wireless bridge to connect those clients to my AP. I also want to use only one Wi-Fi module to realize the bridge. Could you give me some ideas? Thank you.
The scenario that you're describing can easily be realized by deploying a Wi-Fi access point (WAP) in repeater mode. An 802.11 repeater listens for client transmissions and then immediately repeats (echoes) them. Assuming that the repeater is closer to your root AP, this has the effect of amplifying client transmissions. However, it also consumes twice as much air time since each frame must be transmitted twice, cutting maximum throughput in half. To learn more about repeaters, see this Wi-Fi Planet tutorial on how to extend WLAN ranges with repeaters.

Another way to accomplish your goal is to deploy a second wireless AP closer to your distant clients, using the same service set identifier (SSID) as your existing AP. Both APs should be connected to the same backhaul network -- for example, plug both AP Ethernet ports into the same LAN hub or switch. If the location of your new AP makes Ethernet a challenge, consider using a wire-free alternative like HomePlug to connect your new AP to the same hub/switch as your existing AP. HomePlug adapters use the electrical wiring inside a home to carry Ethernet transmissions without requiring Cat5 cables. Simply insert your new AP's Ethernet output into a HomePlug adapter, plugged into a nearby electrical socket. Plug a second HomePlug adapter into an electrical socket near your existing AP, connected to that AP's hub/switch. Now you have two APs serving your Wi-Fi clients, connected to the same backhaul LAN, that together offer twice as much bandwidth and operate more efficiently than the wireless repeater solution described above. See this overview to learn more about HomePlug technology.

This was last published in January 2009

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