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I wish to set up two networks using my router. If I create two SSIDs, can I assign them to two different channels, to keep them "physically" separate? If I cant do this, does this mean the two networks are treated the same as a single network?

EDIT: If both the SSIDs used the same encryption technique, would this affect whether they are viewed as one single network? Or is it just the channel which matters?

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What's your router? –  dnbrv Dec 30 '11 at 23:54
    
Yes. If you have two separate SSID's you can have two separate networks. I believe you can also have them on the same network, as well. It depends on the router's features, however. –  iglvzx Dec 30 '11 at 23:54
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This is all dependent on the functionality of the access point. What make/model router is it? –  Paul Dec 30 '11 at 23:54
    
I havent bought the router yet, I am just planning what I am able to do. So is it JUST the SSID name being different which prevents the networks being treated as one? –  William Dec 30 '11 at 23:58
    
Different SSIDs do not automatically mean separate networks - they could be different to provide different authentication methods to provide access to the same network. What do you actually want to achieve? –  Paul Dec 31 '11 at 0:33
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5 Answers

You can only have a different SSID on a different channel if you have multiple radios in the WAP.

Channels come under the responsibility of a physical transceiver which can only transmit on one channel at a time. Dual radio WAPs are not usually within the realm of consumer grade equipment, unless it's dual band A/B or G/N units.

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Ok, so if I had two SSIDs, on the same channel, would that work on a basic level? If I was a client on one of the networks I would not be on the same network as a client on the other SSID? (Obviously it'd be better if they were both VPNed) –  William Dec 31 '11 at 0:06
    
@Levy Yes, multiple SSIDs can exist on the same radio / channel and each network is separate, not allowing clients on one to talk to clients on the other. That is a common behavior of corporate wireless networks. At one place of work, we maintained about three to five separate wireless networks all on the same WAPs for our point of sale system. –  Wesley Dec 31 '11 at 0:16
    
@WesleyDavid: Sorry misread your answer. Deleted comment. –  haimg Dec 31 '11 at 0:23
    
@haimg You are a gentleman and a scholar. –  Wesley Dec 31 '11 at 0:24
    
@WesleyDavid Just a fyi there are plenty of dual radio consumer grade wireless devices (ok, so most of them are AP's but it still shows that they exist) –  Scott Chamberlain Sep 9 '12 at 19:46
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Different routers have different functions. However, generally speaking, the following applies to all routers:

  • In order to work on two different channels at the same time, the router have to have two separate radios. I'm not aware of any consumer-grade equipment that have 2 same-technology radios (e.g. two 802.11g radios). However, many routers exist that have 2.4GHz Band radio for 802.11g and 5Ghz radio for 802.11n.

  • In order to have two SSIDs, the router's firmware has to support it. For example, D-Link DIR-825 has a "guest zone", which is essentially a separate SSID that you can use. You can choose whether you want the routing between zones enabled or not. This feature is created in order to give your house guests Internet access without letting them into your home's network, and without giving them your "main" SSID's password.

To sum up, getting a router that can work on two same-technology channels independently is not possible unless you're paying a premium to get an enterprise-level equipment, in which case buying 2 consumer-level routers will be cheaper. However, getting two SSIDs is possible, but depends on firmware a specific router has, you need to research a specific model you wish to buy to know for sure.

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Some routers now give you the option of hosting two separate SSID's, though I am not aware of any that let you use separate channels for each SSID. (If there were, they'd probably be more expensive than just buying two cheap routers anyway!)

Routers that can host two different SSID's typically let you decide how you want these two "networks" to interact. They typically have web-based configuration panels that let you control the level of interaction between SSID's. You can completely firewall off the two networks from eachother, or let them fully interact.

I was able to setup completely different encryption schemes for each SSID on my Netgear N300 router (WNR2000v3), though I was -not- able to select different channels for each one - they share the same channel.

Wireless devices consider the SSID as the unique identifier for a network. If you have two different SSID's, your device assumes that each one is for a separate network. On the other hand, if you have one SSID at home, and find that same SSID somewhere else, your device will consider these two hotspots THE SAME, and can not differentiate between them.

You CAN NOT have different encryption settings for two different routers that use a common SSID, and connect to both of them with one device - unless you manually intervene. This might change as more and more devices come to contain GPS units - it is conceivable that SSID + location might eventually become a differentiator.

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Most of the other users have answered if you can or your can't, and the technical backgrounds into why. So I'll answer with something else equally useful, how to do it. I haven't found a stock firmware that allows this, so I'll point you to DDWRT (http://www.dd-wrt.com/site/index), if you're able to load DDWRT onto your router, it's super easy to create two "networks" with two different SSID's.

Not sure why you want to do this, but that's up to you.

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I set mine up with two separate routers and the same SSID and separate channels. http://www.hanselman.com/blog/ConfiguringTwoWirelessRoutersWithOneSSIDNetworkNameAtHomeForFreeRoaming.aspx

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