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Extend wireless network - have FIOS and AP Express

3296 Views 7 Replies Latest reply: Oct 6, 2010 5:24 PM by mjkoop RSS
mjkoop Calculating status...
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Sep 21, 2010 12:35 PM
Hi all,

I've found bits and pieces of answers in various posts, but I'm not 100% sure I understand if it will work for me, so I figured I would explain my setup in detail and see what the best options are as far as hookups, equipment, etc.

I have FIOS with the Actiontec router. The Actiontec is in a media closet under a staircase (not ideal for signal strength I know) in the family room on the 1st floor of my house. I only use the Actiontec for DHCP. I have an AirPort Extreme (b/g/n) bridged to the Actiontec that creates my wireless network.

I use Airtunes on the Extreme to stream music (iTunes and other web content like Last.fm) to my home theater, which is also in the media closet. I would like to keep that functionality.

I would like to extend the coverage of my wireless network as the signal isn't so great on the second floor. My preference would be to not run ethernet if I can avoid it, but it is certainly an option. (NOTE: The FIOS line comes into a control panel in a bedroom in the 2nd floor of my house, and there's a phone matrix panel in there as well. Not sure if I could convert some of the phone lines to ethernet and put the router up there, but that is not something I would be proficient at.)

My questions:

Can I use another Express to extend my existing Express? (I don't think so...)

I might be able to get an AirPort Extreme on the cheap - I assume I could put this in the media closet with the Actiontec and use that as my primary wireless and then take my existing Express and put that upstairs and use it to extend the Extreme? But I would lose the ability to stream music with AirTunes, which is a deal breaker. Would I need another Express in the media closet just for AirTunes?

Does the AppleTV provide AirTunes and would that be an option for the streaming music portion?

Any suggestions appreciated!
  • Tesserax Level 8 Level 8 (47,520 points)
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    Sep 21, 2010 1:35 PM (in response to mjkoop)
    I use Airtunes on the Extreme to stream music (iTunes and other web content like Last.fm) to my home theater, which is also in the media closet. I would like to keep that functionality.


    I assume that you meant to say "Express" and not Extreme here ... correct?

    Not sure if I could convert some of the phone lines to ethernet and put the router up there, but that is not something I would be proficient at.


    Some homes that are pre-wired with Ethernet, use the CAT-5 or CAT-6 cable for both computer data and phone service. Those that do, will not be able to support Gigabit Ethernet as all four pairs of wires in the Ethernet cable are used.

    The other option is to consider Powerline adapter. These take advantage of your home's electrical circuit to create a pseudo Ethernet one. In this case you would place an adapter at each router location, and then, connect the routers to the adapters by an Ethernet cable.

    Can I use another Express to extend my existing Express? (I don't think so...)


    Actually yes. You can use another AXn to extend the wireless range of the first one. However, distance & building materials (walls, ceilings, etc.) may prevent this from working properly ... especially if your goal also includes HD video streaming.

    I might be able to get an AirPort Extreme on the cheap - I assume I could put this in the media closet with the Actiontec and use that as my primary wireless and then take my existing Express and put that upstairs and use it to extend the Extreme? But I would lose the ability to stream music with AirTunes, which is a deal breaker. Would I need another Express in the media closet just for AirTunes?


    Any wireless router can pass the iTunes stream. Only the AX or Apple TV can use it to actually provide the stream to speakers or audio receiver for playback. That is because the Extreme does not have any type of audio circuity.

    Does the AppleTV provide AirTunes and would that be an option for the streaming music portion?


    The current Apple TV does support AirTunes and can be a destination for iTunes streaming. The new Apple TV introduces a "upgraded" version of AirTunes, called AirPlay which allows for video streaming as well.
     Macmini3,1, Mac OS X (10.6.4),  Macmini1,1  MacBook5,2  PowerMac3,5
  • Tesserax Level 8 Level 8 (47,520 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 22, 2010 12:06 PM (in response to mjkoop)
    I'll need to check what I actually have. The whole house was pre-wired for phone obviously, but in one room there is also an ethernet port, and there's an ethernet port in the control panel. So I don't know if that one is different or not.


    If, at the wall, you have a single outlet that has both a phone and an Ethernet jack, most likely, a single Ethernet cable is wired to both. Temporarily removing the panel should reveal how it is wired.

    So in my scenario where my Actiontec router is in a closet, I would connect that to a Powerline and then in another room upstairs I would have a second Powerline and would connect that to an AXn or AE?


    Correct!

    And then on this upstairs AXx or AE router extend (or duplicate) my existing wireless network?


    Only if the current AXn or AEBSn does not provide enough coverage upstairs by itself. Adding additional AirPorts can be done to extend this range, but it will "cost" a bit in overall bandwidth.

    FWIW, I currently have a home with Ethernet pre-build in. I have a pair of AEBSns, one on each floor, connected by Ethernet back to my main wired Internet router. Each AEBSn is capable (in my case) of providing adequate wireless coverage for that floor of the house. However, for example, if I wanted to extend my downstairs coverage to include part of the backyard patio, I could add an AXn to extend it.

    Is this done by setting up a WDS?


    Yes. There are actually two "flavors" of WDS ... at least, as far as Apple AirPorts are concerned. With all 802.11n equipment, you would be configuring them for a "dynamic" WDS.

    I need the stream to my audio receiver, so I would need the AX or ATV in he media closet.


    Yes, that is correct. The "final leg" of the stream would be the audio output from the AX (or ATV) to this audio receiver, and thus, one of these would need to nearby to make the physical connection.

    So even if I used the ATV for AirTunes/Airplay, I'd still need a wireless router in the media closet downstairs and another AXn upstairs to extend the network, which is probably more equipment than I need.


    Yes, as the ATV is not a router and cannot extend an existing wireless network. Instead, it is a wireless network client, just like any other wireless client (laptop, desktop, printer, etc.). If you didn't have a need to have Internet connectivity upstairs then the ATV alone would provide for the streaming needs.
     Macmini3,1, Mac OS X (10.6.4),  Macmini1,1  MacBook5,2  PowerMac3,5
  • Tesserax Level 8 Level 8 (47,520 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 22, 2010 7:33 PM (in response to mjkoop)
    But if I add a Powerline upstairs and connect the AXn to that - which would give me two AXns, one upstairs one downstairs, each connected to ethernet via Powerline - does that not suffer the bandwidth hit since both AXns are powered by Ethernet?


    It would, but you can configure the AXn upstairs as a bridge as well. This would (again) allow the Actiontec to provide both NAT & DHCP services for the entire network. Also, you would set both AXns to use the same Network Name. This would be known as a "roaming" network. You could literally walk a laptop throughout the house and still be on the same network.

    Connected by Ethernet the bandwidth between the AirPorts would be better than if you had them connected by wireless. FYI, the AXns will not be powered by Ethernet only get their data through it. Power is still by connecting both AXns to a power source.

    Wouldn't I in essence be creating a separate wireless network with the upstairs AXn but give it the same name/login as the downstairs wireless network to "extend" the range?


    Yes, that is correct. You would have two physical networks, but both would appear as one from any wireless client and have the same Network Name.

    Is there value in the AEBSn over the AXn as far as range? Or are they both about the same?


    Both have the same RF output power rating, and have the same advertised range. I elected to use AEBSns as I also had a requirement to support wired clients throughout the house as well.
     Macmini3,1, Mac OS X (10.6.4),  Macmini1,1  MacBook5,2  PowerMac3,5

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