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Thread: Wifi Repeating and LAN connection

  1. #1
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    Wifi Repeating and LAN connection

    New to this forum, but been lurking for a while.

    I work in major industry as a Process Automation tech. I am trying to build a wireless network that will transmit a working automation project out for operator access in various areas via tablets. Due to coverage area this will require several AP's to be set up in various places. I know that by giving all AP's the same SSID and PW they can all be seen as one. My question is, do ALL of the AP's need to be connected via Ethernet back to the main switch/network in order to have smooth transition from location to location? or can only one be physically connected to the network via Ethernet, and all the others repeat or extend that transmission but not be physically connected to the network?

    All similar setups I have seen require that physical connection back to the LAN in order to be seen as one and have smooth transition. Full wireless from AP to AP or Routers out to AP's Ive seen may can connect to the same network but require logging into each separate AP.

    I appreciate any input.

    Mike

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    Administrator Philip's Avatar
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    AP by definition means that the device connects to the parent/gateway via Ethernet, and only uses WiFi to communicate with clients (not other APs). Yes, it is a star topology generally, so each AP would have to connect back to the main router, or to a switch connecting back to the main router.
    Note only some APs offer "seamless handoff" between them. Most will drop the connection before the client connects to another for a second, also the signal would have to become very weak for a client to move to another AP. You may have a small interruption in connectivity when the client connects to the new one, even when they are all using the same SSID/key. That is not an issue in many cases, just thought I'd mention it.

    Repeaters/Extenders can work without any Ethernet connection, however each hop halves the speed, and they repeat alot of WiFi noise, creating issues.

    There are some commercial setups that have devices/repeaters use a different "wireless backhaul" frequency to reduce the clutter on the WiFi network.
    There are also some newer "Mesh WiFi" setups that work quite well for a few devices, look at the Linksys Velop (you can have both wired/ethernet or wifi backhaul, all devices communicate with each other, you get seamless handoff, not necessary to have all connected via Ethernet).

    It would depend on the number of APs, if you have more than 5 I would look at Ubiquiti devices. For up to 5 devices, I'd just use Linksys Velop with Ethernet backhaul only where feasible.

    I hope this helps.

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    Thanks for the input. and your reply is sort of the way I figured it had to be to make it work. We presently have all the AP's connected via Ethernet back to the main network and accomplishing the task. We were hoping that as we branched out and grew the wireless network larger we might could do it seamlessly without all the Ethernet connections. We have used Cisco AP's in the past but never in a repeater setup. The units we are trying now are ELPRO, which is a more industrialized radio and I do think have the mesh capability but not very familiar with how to make it work yet. I appreciate your input.

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    Administrator Philip's Avatar
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    Yeah, I would stay with commercial APs for larger setups. You may still want to check out Ubiquiti, they have some newer mesh APs that work quite well and have centralized management.

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    We were finally able to get the system going all wireless, but as you mentioned with quite a bit of loss. I'll do some research into the Ubiquiti brand. Ultimately I don't have the final say here on the hardware, but do have major input on what to try. We were given the ELPRO's as loaners for testing and hence why we are using them. Prior to that all Cisco's but this will be the first of many setups that will incorporate more than just one radio.

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    Administrator Philip's Avatar
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    For new setups, I would try to get some newer 802.11ac compatible hardware, and possibly something that uses different "backhaul" frequency than that used to serve clients. Traditional repeater setups can be quite messy/noisy as you've found.

    Good luck with it, let us know what works out good for you.

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