11 Replies Latest reply: Jan 20, 2012 9:59 AM by SuperSizeIt
105437 Level 1 (0 points)

I'm confused, if I have an AirPort Extreme base station running in dual-band mode and two AirPort Express, what's the difference in selecting the Wireless Mode as "Extend a Wireless Network" and "Participate in a WDS Network"? I'm looking for the best way to repeat the dual-band signal from the base station to other areas in my house.


Thanks for your help!

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.7.1)
  • WindyCityDave Level 1 (25 points)

    I have 3 Airport Extremes in my house.  I initially tried using a wireless signal between the routers to extend the signal, but couldn't stand the poor network performance.  Eventually I used CAT5 to connect the routers and that has been working great.  Fortunately, the telephone jacks in our house had be wired using CAT5 and since our home phone is wireless and we didn't need all those jacks, I simply rewired some of the RJ45's with CAT5 connectors. 


    Router 1 is in the basement where the cable/internet and telephone wires terminate.  From there, Routers 2 and 3 connect via CAT5 (repurposed telephone wires).  Set Router 1 up first --- DNS, Wireless networks, port mappings, etc.  During the setup on 2 and 3, select connect via ethernet and extend my wireless network.  You'll then be asked to select the router that 2/3 will connect to, choose Router 1.  Due to a flaw in the Airport Utility, routers 2/3 will be amber after setup.  You have to manually set your ethernet connect sharing to off (Bridge Mode).  After that change, 2/3 will reboot green.

  • 105437 Level 1 (0 points)

    Good to know but I'm not sure it applies to my question.

  • rlangle Level 1 (0 points)

    I would also be intersted in this difference.  I initially was thought it was different terminology for the same thing, but now I'm not so sure.   Tx  Rob

  • WindyCityDave Level 1 (25 points)



    See http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4262 .  It says that WDS is for G networks and shouldn't be used for N. 


    "Extending" will propigate both frequencies.



  • Bob Timmons Level 10 (98,201 points)

    WDS and "extend a wireless network" are two different technologies that do the same thing......allow wireless devices to connect to each other to provide more wireless coverage.


    WDS is the older technology and it runs only at "g" wireless speeds. So, if you have older "g" wireless routers, or a mix of newer "n" and "g" routers, you must use the WDS setup for the network.


    An "n" device could be configured for WDS, but it would drop down to "g" level performance, losing all of the advantages of faster "n" speeds. For that reason, if all of the devices are newer "n" AirtPorts, you would want to use the "extend a wireless network" setup to allow maximum speeds on the network.


    WDS is a difficult and complicated set up for users as well, and it imposes a very stiff 50% bandwidth penalty on the entire network for each "remote" device on the network. So, with 2 AirPorts configured in a WDS setup, you would have a "g" wireless network running at half speed. Add another AirPort to the configuration and the network will be running at only 25% of "g" speeds. That is a tremendous penalty.


    "Extend a wireless network" runs at full "n" wireless speeds with much less bandwidth loss on the network. It is also much easier to configure. The only requirement to run the "extend" setup is that all of the AirPorts must be newer "n" wireless devices. If they are, this is by far the best setup to use.


    The link in the previous post above provides information about the WDS setup. A better reference might the support article below which explains in good detail all the various ways to provide more wireless coverage, including connecting the AirPorts together using an Ethernet cable....which is the "best" way to do this.



  • 105437 Level 1 (0 points)

    Bob, thanks so much for the insightful reply.


    So, with my setup and selecting "extend a wireless network" on both of my AirPort Expresses... should I select the n band wireless from the Wireless Network Name drop down menu? Is that just a name only and the fact that I selected "extend a wireless network" bring both n and g to the Express?

  • Bob Timmons Level 10 (98,201 points)
    should I select the n band wireless from the Wireless Network Name drop down menu?

    Both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands produce an "n" signal, so I'm not sure what you are asking here.


    Are you trying to extend both bands to a certain area, or are you trying to extend the wireless signal to two separate areas using the 2 Express devices?

  • 105437 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hi Bob, yes... I'm trying to extend both bands to two other locations in my home.


    Sorry my question wasn't clear... What I'm asking is that when I select the Wireless Network Name drop down menu under the Wireless tab in the AirPort utility of the AirPort Express, I have a choice to select either my 2.4GHz or 5GHz SSID from the AirPort Extreme. I thought by selecting one or the other I was choosing to extend only that band to the Express.

  • Bob Timmons Level 10 (98,201 points)
    I'm trying to extend both bands to two other locations in my home.


    The Express is a single band device, it can extend the 2.4 GHz band or the 5 GHz band, but not both at once.


    You would need two AirPort Extremes to extend dual bands to two separate areas.


    If you want to extend both bands to one area using two AirPort Express devices, you will need to configure one Express to associate with the 2.4 GHz network and the other Express to associate with the 5 GHz network.


    The only way that I know how to do this is enable the option to assign a different wireless network name to the 5 GHz network. So the 5 GHz network has one name and the 2.4 GHz has another.


    If you do not assign a separate wireless network name to the 5 Ghz network, then the AirPort Extreme broadcasts both bands using the same wireless network name. In that case, the Express will extend the band with the stronger signal....probably the 2.4 GHz band since those signals penetrate walls and other obstructions more effectively.

  • 105437 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks Bob, exactly what I needed to know. I'll just extend the 2.4 GHz band since it will be for devices connecting to the internet for typical use and not streaming video etc.

  • SuperSizeIt Level 3 (575 points)

    This method works great. Use one Express for N and assign a name. For streaming video using devices like ATV 2, assign just that speceific channel.  The second Express can then extend the G for all others. Works great, my entire home, front yard and back yard have full coverage. I rarely lose one Airport bar on all devices now.