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I'd like to add wireless to my network, and I need multiple access points to cover the whole area. I'd like to set them up so that there's only one "wireless network" that the clients see, and it switches them as seamlessly as possible between access points as they wander around (if that's not possible, then at least have it so that they don't need to set up the security by hand on each one the first time, if possible).

I've searched online, and there are quite a few sets of mixed instructions (same vs different SSID, frequency, does the security need to match exactly, etc.). Can somebody who has some experience doing this please let me know what they did? I imagine it's pretty simple, but there seems to be no clear cut "yes, you can do this" online, even though I know you can.

I have a mid-size LAN with about 20 workstations and two Domain Controllers on it. Also, I'll be doing this with consumer wireless components, if it makes a difference, not enterprise-level components (ie. Linksys rather than Cisco).

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migrated from Sep 9 '09 at 21:21

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

The last time I did this, I setup the same SSID and WPA keys on two access points and set them to different channels. I've been told that due to overlapping frequencies, the channels 1, 6, and 11 are the best ones to use. I set mine up on 1 and 6. So far everything seems to be working well. My Windows-based clients connect to either one seamlessly, and the software will normally choose the one with the strongest signal automatically.

The only hitch is if a client connects to one access point, and then moves to a place where the other access point is stronger the client won't automatically switch to the new access point. To accomplish that the client needs to disconnect and reconnect. Of course, if the signal becomes too weak, that will happen automatically when the weaker signal is lost.

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If you use WEP, switching between the two becomes seamless. The security is laughable, but I find that the increased stability is worth it. – Daniel Spiewak Sep 29 '08 at 0:10
What's the best practice for 4+ WAPs? Sprinkle the channels around? – Earls Feb 3 '13 at 2:14

You should check out the Ruckus mesh WLAN products, they provide a true mesh WLAN for SMB without the enterprise cost.

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