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In my office, the network administrator has configured two separate 802.11g/n APs with the same SSID on the same channel (6) but about 50 metres apart*. The two APs are not configured as a WDS as far as I know.

I notice that when my (HP Pavilion dv6 Windows 7 Professional) laptop searches for wifi networks, it displays the shared SSID as one and the signal strength of the stronger of the two APs (which is 2 feet behind me) but when it associates to a network, it always chooses the other AP, whose signal is so low that the connection sometimes drops.

I was told that there is an issue with Windows 7 associating to APs with the same SSID, that it does so somewhat arbitrarily. I was further told that there was no available solution on the AP side (such as creating two SSIDs for each AP).

So, is there a tool or a configuration option I can use to force my laptop to associate with a specific AP (say, by MAC address)?

Edit: I'm relatively new to specific workings of Windows 7 (linux / Apple guy).

(*Our building is several hundred years old and made with two-foot-thick stone, so this is presumably the easiest way to allow wifi access around the corner.)

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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The biggest thing that you should do is put both of the APs on different non-overlapping channels: 1, 6, and 11. Interference between the two APs is probably contributing to your issues, particularly if they the APs are being heavily used. 50 meters is rather close together for APs on the same channel.

Also, how are you sure that your computer is connecting to the AP that is farther away? Your computer might be connecting to the closer AP, but you're seeing heavy interference so the signal strength is lower.

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I had this issue at my job until I made sure all the AP's were on different channels. –  WinOutreach4 Jan 31 '12 at 21:56
    
It's a bit quick and dirty, but I simply started pinging a WAN-side host continually and walked from my desk to the other AP. The signal strength grew to full with no interruption in host pinging. From the behaviour of the signal strength increasing without ping interruption, I infer that I am associated to that AP (normally there would be a small hiccough in pinging while I associated to the other AP). –  msanford Feb 1 '12 at 0:10
    
I completely agree with your comments @cmorse. I, however, have no control over the network, which is why I was looking for another solution. Maybe I'll see if I can get the admin to move to channel 11 tomorrow… For now, I'm walking down the hall to do my svn commits :P –  msanford Feb 1 '12 at 0:13
    
The network administrator and I tried switching the AP's channels, among other things. No joy. I may just brig in a wired router tomorrow (as actually having wireless access is not at all necessary for me.) Thanks guys! –  msanford Feb 1 '12 at 20:00
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I know HP has their Connection Manager software that may do this for you. I have a Lenovo and their tool allows more granular management North America HP download Link

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thanks for your suggestion. I had a similar powerful tool with my Toshiba. However, the HP Connection Manager provides very little control over connections -- it's simply a unified power control panel like you'd find on an Android phone. –  msanford Jan 31 '12 at 18:18
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