I have purchased three Airport Extreme routers. I have a cable modem in one room that currently feeds into our primary router (which I want to replace with an Extreme), which feeds into a switch, which then distributes Internet and LAN services over ethernet via CAT5 to an office upstairs and another office a few rooms over. (The walls in our building are thick, so I can't do a purely wireless mesh.)

What I want is basically for one Extreme (the one next to the cable modem) to be my primary router and DHCP server, and the other two to be access points extending the primary network.

I tried using the Airport Utility to set it up following their instructions to extend a network, however, it seems that it was trying to do so wirelessly, not through the ethernet cables I had plugged into the Extremes. As a result, the two access point Extremes kept losing their connections to the primary Extreme.

How can I get this setup to work the way I want it to?

  • 6
    Is there a reason that you're using a piece of home equipment in a business instead of buying proper business-grade wifi APs?
    – MDMarra
    Nov 13, 2013 at 22:39
  • 1
    @MDMarra: At my previous position I had exactly the same preconception, until I was basically forced to choose two Apple Airport Extremes over Ruckus and some really cheap Netgear option I never really believed in for reasons of budget. However, the Apple units turned out to work flawlessly for such a small deployment and I just had to accept that my preconceptions were utterly and happily smashed to bits on that one.
    – ErikE
    Nov 13, 2013 at 23:21
  • Can't believe the way this very clear question is being downvoted btw. Did you never have to pick the cheaper rather than the better option at your work?
    – ErikE
    Nov 13, 2013 at 23:34
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    @ErikE I didn't downvote. As for Airport Extreme vs. something proper like a Cisco AP - the Airport extreme may work well in a small office, but when you start talking about roaming and interference and auto-radio power and band select, there are features that enterprise APs have that Apple just can't compete with. I have a .11ac time capsule at my apartment. It's the best SOHO router/AP that I've ever owned. I'd never ever use it in a business though.
    – MDMarra
    Nov 14, 2013 at 0:19
  • @MDMarra: It was fairly clear that it was not you but others downvoting. I tried editing my comment but it had locked and I should have deleted it and started over to avoid the ambiguity. I agree with your opinion completely. However, sometimes we are forced to work with non-professional grade equipment in a professional capacity. That's what happened to me at least. On an interesting note, where I work now we have big brand wifi and I was surprised to see it actually has more problems (though I haven't analyzed them as it is "owned" by another admin).
    – ErikE
    Nov 14, 2013 at 7:55

1 Answer 1


I believe the "extend wireless" option is for extending the wireless using wireless :-)

When extending over cable, Apple seem instead to call it "Roaming type network". So reset your units and start over.

Connect each unit using cable and create a wireless network on each one using exactly the same SSID, encryption, password etc. The only special one would be the to-be router, with which you should start. Proceed when it is working exactly as planned.

This is where I looked to realize this: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4799778

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