Wirelessly extending Airport Extreme (via another Extreme or Netgear or Ubiquiti)

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by userjohn, Jan 17, 2015.

  1. userjohn, Jan 17, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2015

    userjohn macrumors member

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    Mar 24, 2011
    #1
    I have a wireless network using the latest Airport Extreme (ME918LL/A) with a symmetrical 500 Mbps Internet connection. I can get >400 Mbps on an iPad Air 2 in an adjacent room through a wall. I'd like to extend to another location ~200 feet away (with 20-30 feet elevation difference), with no line of sight, several intervening walls, and many other networks nearby.

    I tried extending with another Airport Extreme (FE918LL/A), via 2.4 GHz (5 GHz wasn't visible). Clients at both ends use 5 GHz, which I hope allows the Airports to connect at maximum speed via 2.4GHz. Using Ookla Speedtest app on iPad Air 2, downloads were often ~10 Mbps (sometimes ~20), and uploads were often ~5 Mbps (sometimes ~10), and pings often ~10ms.

    I thought a Netgear extender (model EX6200) might be faster. I used FastLane, so 2.4 GHz is used only for backhaul, with the clients connecting at 5 GHz. However, even with the extender claiming to be connected at >100 Mbps and a green link light, download and upload speeds were usually < 1 Mbps, at best slightly above 1 Mbps, and ping times much worse, with huge variability from second to second (with many pings timing out). I also tried two Ubiquiti Nanostation Loco M2's as a wireless bridge (testing with a MacBook Pro connected via Ethernet cable to the remote Nanostation). With all 4 link lights active, the speeds didn't go much over 1 Mbps, and often < 1 Mbps, with huge short-term variability in speeds and pings.

    Given the distance and obstacles, I was surprised the Airport Extreme even worked, but I then expected other options (especially Ubiquiti) to do even better. If configured properly, should the Netgear or Nanostations provide faster speeds than the Airport Extreme? Are there other wireless extenders or bridges (perhaps 900 MHz) that should provide better performance?
     
  2. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #2
    You're best option is to run Ethernet from a LAN port on the first Extreme to the second LAN port. Judging by the amount of interference you probably have with so many networks and the amount of obstacles in the way, you will have issues with wireless extension any way you go.
     
  3. eduardrw macrumors 6502

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    May 20, 2013
    #3
    If you don't have line of sight, Ubiquiti or other devices won't help you much, since the signal is greatly attenuated by walls etc.
    If there are other WIFI signals interfering, it multiplies the problems.
    Remember - at 2.4GHz you only have 3 non overlapping channels which share the bandwidth with other users.

    802.11N and A aggregate more than one channel to achieve higher speeds. This means you can only get high speed wifi at close range/high signal strength and with no other signals interfering.

    At 5GHz you have more channels - however your range is dramatically reduced!

    The only realistic way of getting high speed (100M and faster) WIFI is to have local WIFI repeaters (connected via ethernet) covering the areas you target.
    Realistic range is 20-40 feet unobstructed.

    BTW -> Airport Express devices only support 100Mb ethernet speeds - so there is a bottleneck right there.

    Try using 2 Time Capsule ac's connected via gigabit ethernet.

    One more thing -> you typically only get ~ 50% of WIFI indicated connection speeds as throughput.
     
  4. userjohn thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 24, 2011
    #4
    Thanks, please note I'm only using Airport Extremes (not Express).

    Did you suggest Time Capsules (which I've not tried) rather than Airport Extremes because the former would have some advantage in network performance?

    ----------

    Thanks, I realize I can get extremely high speeds with a physical Ethernet connection, but that may be too difficult or expensive.
     
  5. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #5



    The Time Capsules and Extremes are identical in performance. How would Ethernet be more expensive? It may be difficult depending on the setup of the building but far from expensive.
     
  6. userjohn thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 24, 2011
    #6
    Thanks, I wasn't aware of any performance differences between the Time Capsule and Extreme, but I asked because eduardrw suggested Time Capsules (rather than the Extremes I already have).

    Difficult and expensive are two ways of saying the same thing. Of course Ethernet cable itself is cheap, but getting access to reach the remote location by cable may cost too much. That's one reason wireless links can sometimes be more cost effective.
     
  7. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #7
    You can get a 1000 ft. spool of Cat 5e which is capable of Gigabit speeds for $50-$75. I know it is a pain to pull Ethernet sometimes (especially when you are drilling through concrete in a school building which is really fun) but it is by far the easiest and most reliable method of data transfer.
     
  8. eduardrw macrumors 6502

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    #8
    The newer Time Capsule ac have beam forming technology and therefore have better WIFI reach than the "older" Airport Extremes.
     
  9. userjohn thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 24, 2011
    #9
    Thanks, but I had no concern about the cost of the actual cable, which is so low that it may as well be free for this purpose. Getting access is what may be too expensive or perhaps impossible. That is one of the reasons that wireless bridges like Ubiquiti can be useful, despite having lower performance.
     
  10. userjohn thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 24, 2011
    #10
    Yes, of course the older Extremes are inferior in many ways, and I knew the latest generation Extremes and Time Capsules have beam forming. As I mentioned in my post, I'm using the latest generation Extremes.

    Please note that despite the two Extremes being >200 feet apart, separated by ~30 feet of elevation, multiple exterior walls, multiple interior walls, with a pillar and corner of a building intruding into the Fresnel zone in the path outside between the two locations, and multiple interfering networks at both ends, I'm seeing speeds as high as ~20 Mbps (and very commonly >10 Mbps). I thought that some higher gain directional antennas, perhaps with lower frequency (900 MHz) for better wall penetration, could do even better, and I was hoping some here might have such recommendations. However, even the performance of the Airport Extremes is usable, if there isn't a cost effective way to do better with another wireless extender or bridge. From what I'm reading about other highly rated wireless extenders, the performance I'm seeing with these Extremes seems very impressive in comparison.
     
  11. Toltepeceno, Jan 22, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2015

    Toltepeceno Suspended

    Toltepeceno

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    #11
    I don't know if this will help but I use A PLA4231 500MPS A.T distance of about 1000 feet apart and it's excellent. It has to be the same electricity feed though and I don't know if that's your case. I know this is telmex, but they sell them in the us:

    https://tienda.telmex.com/shell/af/...ctedChannels=&contentTypeId=0&contentId=18223

    I was planning on on going ubiquiti but then decided to try this. I'm glad I did. We have slow wifi but there is not loss with this and in fact everyone says it's faster than the crappy telmex wifi router. I was using a tplink router hooked to it a.t first but I went to the built in wifi, it's just as good.

    My odd setup is that I have electricity coming into a house 2 houses away and I have an electrical cable coming to this house. Both use the same electrical feed but are on different breakers over 1000 feet apart. I am a.t the second house right now posting this and the speed connection is better here, I think due to the cheap huawei telmex router.
     
  12. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #12
    The ideal way to use the Ubiquiti solutions would be to run Ethernet to each of the NanoStations and mount them on an exterior wall.
     
  13. takeshi74, Jan 22, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2015

    takeshi74 macrumors 601

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    #13
    Right but you're complaining about performance. If wireless isn't sufficient because of obstacles and other networks then you may need to go wired.

    Difficult and expensive are two entirely different things. They are not mutually inclusive. Carefully select your words.
     
  14. userjohn thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 24, 2011
    #14
    You're mistaken that I'm "complaining about performance", and I already said "the performance of the Airport Extremes is usable". However, since I expected a directional bridge could provide "even better" performance, I asked whether that was true. Perhaps the Extreme's beam forming is much more powerful than I realized. If it's the fastest wireless extension available for this purpose, it's certainly sufficient for now.

    I've always known the wired option exists. Difficult and expensive are not completely different. Most difficult tasks, including this, can be accomplished much more easily by sufficient expenditure of money. Aside from labor, property or access rights can be purchased if necessary.
     
  15. userjohn thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 24, 2011
    #15
    Thanks for the suggestion. The prior test already used Ethernet cables connected to each of the Nanostations.

    At the main location, I used the window mount to point toward the remote location. At the remote location, the exterior walls don't face toward the main location, so mounting there may not be helpful.
     
  16. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #16
    If you have a Gigabit back end connection to the network running to the Ubiquiti NanoStations then that is as good as a wireless solution is going to get. Window mounting is a good idea and I anticipate that if properly configured, you would see much better performance than wireless replication by the Extremes alone.
     
  17. userjohn thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 24, 2011
    #17
    Thanks, I assume the Ubiquiti connection would work great if I had two windows facing each other, but unfortunately I do not, as mentioned above.
     
  18. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #18
    Is there a way to get it onto a wall even if you would have to drill to run the Ethernet?
     
  19. userjohn thread starter macrumors member

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    #19
    No, not to an exterior wall at the remote location that faces toward the main location.
     
  20. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #20
    What on the remote location does face the main location? Is there a window by chance? This situation is rather hard to visualize in our heads.
     
  21. userjohn thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 24, 2011
    #21
    The area of the remote location that faces the main location is in the interior of a building. If you cross a hallway and multiple other rooms, eventually you of course reach an exterior wall facing the main location, but I don't have access rights on that path. As mentioned before, there is also some intrusion into the Fresnel zone (by a pillar and corner of another building) in the outside area between the locations. Given how difficult these conditions seem, it's fascinating how well the mere extension between the Extremes has been working (speeds as high as ~20Mbps, and I've seen a link as strong as -58dbM, although usually it's closer to -69dbM).
     
  22. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #22
    I also find it rather amazing just how well the Extreme's are performing given the circumstances.
     

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