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AirPort 5 GHz Network Questions

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by Xian Zhu Xuande, Jul 19, 2011.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Xian Zhu Xuande

    Hello everyone,

    I have an AirPort Extreme downstairs and another upstairs. Both are the new 5th generation models. I've noticed that wireless Time Machine can bog down the network bandwidth when I'm working over a 2.4 GHz network so I've been trying to get 5 GHz to work in certain areas, especially my patio.

    The upstairs AirPort Extreme extends my network nicely to the patio, but due to the brick wall, the 5 GHz network runs at about 35–40%, and my laptop will consistently choose to join the 2.4 GHz network instead. I have found no way to extend a configuration with different names for the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks (all I can do is pick one and the second AirPort Extreme will simply extend that in two new flavors). I have found no way to specifically tell my laptop to join the 5 GHz network over the 2.4 GHz network. It seems like it will join the 5 GHz network only when it has a strong signal, otherwise it will prefer the 2.4 GHz network as its signal is stronger.

    What I would like to do:

    1) Create an extended network with named 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks so I can have my laptop connect to the 5 GHz network even when it is weaker.


    2) Find some way to have my laptop prefer the 5 GHz network at a wider signal range so it will select it at slightly weaker signals, or force it to operate exclusively on the 5 GHz network range. (Maybe a tweak applied through Terminal? I don’t know).

    Thanks to anyone who has some knowledge on this subject.
  2. macrumors P6


    1: When you give the main Airport two network names, 5Ghz is named Apple and 2.4Ghz is named Google, you can tell the extension Airport to extend one of those names. The extender Airport will then make a 2.4 and 5Ghz network with the name you choose. There is no way to have the extender Airport name both networks different things.

    2: I don't know of any settings that can be changed to force your Mac to use the 5Ghz network at all times.
  3. macrumors member

    Why are you using a second Airport Extreme to extend your wireless network/signal? My understanding is that an Airport Express is the best option for that purpose.
  4. macrumors P6


    The Extreme is actually better. It has more system resources, can do both 2.4 and 5Ghz at the same time, and has a higher throughput.
  5. macrumors member

    I wasn't aware the Extreme could do them "together". Do you mean simultaneously?
  6. macrumors P6


    Yes, it can extend both the 2.4Ghz and the 5Ghz networks at the same time. Where as the Express can only do one at a time.
  7. macrumors member

    So, when using the Extreme, if you set up and select 5Ghz frequency you will also on the 2.4Ghz frequency too? An also 802.11G frequency too?
  8. macrumors P6


    If you setup the main Extreme to call the 2.4Ghz network Apple and the 5Ghz network Google. You can setup the an extender Extreme to extend Apple, it'll then send out Apple in the 2.4 and the 5Ghz band. Or you could set it up to extend Google into the 2.4 and 5Ghz band. But, it cannot extend both Apple and Google at the same time.

    If the main Extreme is setup for only one network, named Microsoft, but runs on both 2.4 and 5Ghz. Then the extender Extreme will extend Microsoft into the 2.4 and 5ghz band.

    WiFi G runs only on 2.4Ghz. N can run on both 2.4 and 5Ghz.

    Note: My examples above where made with early 2009 or later Extreme models in mind. It can also be done on the early 2009 or later Time Capsule.
  9. macrumors member

    Thanks Intell

    Thanks Intell,

    Just to close this out, I was able to really significantly improve my wireless range problem by replacing my Actiontec "G" router and replacing it with an Apple Airport Extreme 802.11n (set to 2.4Ghz) and then using an Apple Airport Express 802.11n as an extender to get the signal to the farthest reaches of my home (which is of course where I needed it.)
    Oh and the best part is I did it myself . . . Scary!!!
  10. macrumors 6502a


    Is there an easy way to tell what generation APE one has?

    Mine has no easily readable markings. I know it has N but not sure which gneration it has. Based on the fact I cannot seem to get dual band mode, I am thinking its not the last 2 versions.

    Same with my Time Capsule.

    Also, is there any thought on which device should be the base? My set up has the FIOS modem connected to the Airport and the TC extends the network. That seems to work other than TC backups are slow in some parts of the house.

    This thread got me thinking on ways to improve throughput.

    Thanks in advance for the help.
  11. macrumors 6502a

    Xian Zhu Xuande

    So here's my next question. When the second AirPort Extreme extends the first AirPort Extreme's 5 GHz signal ("Apple") and, through this signal, projects a 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz "Apple" signal, does the connection of, say, a 'G' device to the extended "Apple" 2.4 GHz network adversely impact the 5 GHz signal projected by the base station? Or is it cool, because, perhaps, the extension base station receives the data and transmits it through the original 5 GHz signal back to the primary base station?

    I wonder if that made any sense...
    I'm describing what I illustrated below:

    Primary APE
    - 5 GHz
    --- Second APE
    ----- 5 GHz
    ----- 2.4 GHz
    ------- 'G' Device
    - 2.4 GHz

    It works, but it is nowhere near as good as a second Extreme.
    What works best depends on the type of coverage you need.

    You can flip it over and find the model number, then look that up on the internet. One of the AirPort Extremes has two versions which share one model number so some extra effort is required to determine which it is. You can also check it in the AirPort Utility. In the overview screen when you select the device on the left-hand side it will describe it. For example, the AirPort Extreme released last month is called 'AirPort Extreme 802.11n (5th Generation)'.

    The best base station is, generally speaking, the newest model. The two primary features are N (sounds like you've got that) and simultaneous transmission of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz (available on the 4th/5th generation gigabit AirPort Extremes). The later is a great feature to have around because it allows your 5 GHz N devices to function smoothly on the network along with the G devices floating around the house.

    Wireless Time Machine backups seem to use a lot of network bandwidth. That's actually the reason why I recently updated my network. AirPlay, for example, starts to cut out when it is being used, and another computer is performing a wireless Time Machine backup, through the same router on a 2.4 GHz signal. I had similar problems with Netflix and VOIP. Now that most of this is taking place on a 5 GHz signal for me I haven't had a single hiccup.
  12. macrumors P6


    If a G device connects to "Apple"'s 2.4Ghz network, it does not effect the performance of the 5Ghz half.

    I think the 3rd, 4th, and 5th gen are all simultaneous. The first was the early 2009, late 2009, and mid 2011.
  13. macrumors 6502a

    Xian Zhu Xuande

    I'm curious about the impact of connecting a G device to the 2.4 GHz extension of a 5 GHz network. But as I write this, I'm realizing that I may have set this up before and then torn it back down because the rebroadcasted networks were actually both 2.4 GHz networks (as shown in iStumbler). I'll mess around with it and see how things work.

    You're correct.
  14. macrumors P6


    iStumbler for me shows a 2.4Ghz and a 5Ghz network from my 2.4Ghz extended. Putting a G device on the 2.4Ghz half of your network will not effect the speed of the 5Ghz network.

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