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couple of questions about new airport and extending using old airport

268 Views 6 Replies Latest reply: Jan 29, 2013 11:19 AM by iinami RSS
iinami Level 4 Level 4 (1,400 points)
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Jan 26, 2013 1:23 PM

Greetings. I purchased a new airport express and set it all up fine. Then i decided to use my older 802.11n single channel airport express to extend my network and plugged it in near my daughter's room and got it set up as well. questions i'm asking for help with are:


i'm running a macbook pro with snow leopard and airport utility 5.6.1, so how can i know if my new airport express is really broadcasting on both channels? we are using iphone 5's which can use both channels so i want to take full advantage of that.


what are the optimum settings that i can do with 5.6.1 to make this airport work as well as possible?


since the older airport express is single channel will it degrade the performance of my new dual channel airport express? for example, if i'm near the new airport express will my iphone 5 take advantage of the dual channels but if i'm near the old airport express it won't?


should the old airport express disappeared from the available networks when i click on airport in the top menu of my macbook pro?


my house is only 1300 square feet, do i even need to extend the network? my daughter's macbook pro and iphone 4 in her room had full bars without the extension.


i would surely appreciate any help with this, i'm looking for optimum performance, thanks.

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.8), iPhone 5 iOS 6.0.2
  • edex67 Level 4 Level 4 (3,235 points)

    The fact your network is listed twice indicates that they are on the 2.4 and 5GHz band. Check in AirPort Utility under Airport Extreme > Edit > Wireless > Wireless Options. Do you see the 5GHz band checked?

  • Bob Timmons Level 9 Level 9 (75,400 points)
    i'm running a macbook pro with snow leopard and airport utility 5.6.1, so how can i know if my new airport express is really broadcasting on both channels?


    I do not have a few spare AirPorts here to test out the same setup, but suggest that you spend a few dollars on a good utility like WiFi Explorer to learn more about your network. There may be a few free utilities available as well, but I use WiFi Explorer out of habit.


    Mac App Store - WiFi Explorer


    Open up Wifi Explorer. If things are configured correctly, and you are using the default settings for the "new" AirPort Express and the "extending" Express,  you will see your wireless network name listed 3 times.


    Look for the BSSIDs that match up very closely. There will only be a slight difference in the IDs. These are the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands from the "new" dual band AirPort Express


    By looking over to the right to see which channel that each BSSID is using, you will know which BSSID is associated wtih 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz signals.


    The "other" BSSID that you see is the AirPort Express that is extending the signal. It is likely extending the 2.4 GHz band, but it might be extending the 5 GHz band if is in close proximity to the new Express and it has a line-of-sight relationshp with new Express, or close to it.


    You can learn a lot about the overall signal quality of any connection by looking at the SNR column. This displays the Signal to Noise Ratio of the signal, which is the best way to evaluate signal quality


    You can walk your MacBook Pro around and watch the SNR numbers change at different locations


    Use this SNR Chart as a guide to evaluate the signal quality at any given point. You current connection will be displayed in Bold.


    SNR Signal Quality Chart


    40+          Superior

    35            Excellent

    30            Very Good

    25            Good

    20            Fair

    15            Low

    10            Very Low

    5              Not reliable


    The AirPorts are set pretty much for optimum performance in the default settings. If you don't have any older "g" or "n" devices, you could adjust the Radio Mode to only use "n" wireless for both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. Otherwise, I would leave well enough alone. I run my AirPorts using the standard default settings.


    There is a slight loss of bandwidth when you use an AirPort to extend using wireless, but the improved signal strenth from the Express might override the effect of any loss in bandwidth. If you have an Express, you might as well use it, as the signal will be stronger in the area near the extending Express.


    Experiment by powering off the Express and noting the SNR readings in the bedroom. Then power up the Express and check again. If the SNR figures are better with the Express "on", then leave it on.


    When you "extend" a wireless network and click on the AirPort icon at the top of the Mac's screen, you will only see your network displayed one time.  If you want to see which AirPort you are connected to at any given time, hold down the option key on your Mac and click on the AirPort icon. The BSSID will be displayed along with the band and current channel that is in use.


    The "bars" at the top of the screen tend to look better than the actual connection quality, as you will see if spend a few minutes looking at SNR. For that reason, the "bars" are nice to look at, and might give a very general indication of signal strength...but they tell you nothing about noise. In other words, they are pretty much useless as far as accurately evaluating signal quality

  • edex67 Level 4 Level 4 (3,235 points)

    I would agree with Bob Timmons (but just wanted to check the 5GHz band was actually being used). Use iStumbler (easily the best WiFi app out there in my opinion and it's free) although I can't speak for WiFi Explorer as I am remarkably stingy when it comes to utility software.


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