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I have an existing ethernet 100meg LAN and I want to add a wireless capability. I have looked at some products and it is confusing. There are:

Range extenders for about 40-50 UK GBP (equiv $65 US). Eg Netgear WN3000RP or WN2000RPT. But they mention extending the range of an existing wireless network? So not appropriate for my situation? How do they work? Or could I use this?

Wireless range extenders - eg TP-Link TL-WA730RE. But unit is only UK 15 GBP (around $25 US). Is this basically a signal amplifier?

Any suggestions on what to buy would be most appreciated.

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Generic advice as provided by Bon Gart below is perfectly fine. If you're inclined to ask for specific product recommendations, do take a look at the FAQ first. – Karan Jun 15 '13 at 18:23
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Pretty much any router with wireless capability can be added to your network as a bridge, enabling wireless devices to be connected. Even the least expensive models can have the DHCP functions disabled, so that any connected device will be assigned an IP address from the same source as the wired devices.

If you extend your searches for "Wireless Access Point" and sort through the devices you find, you will see that some of them offer the ability to do this as well... namely connect them to an ethernet cable on an existing network and add wireless connectivity. However, you should find that the price of these devices will be approximately the same as an inexpensive wireless router. In some cases, you will find them to actually be more expensive than wireless routers.

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I bought a wireless access point in the end, thanks for your help. – user619818 Jun 15 '13 at 20:17

It really depends on what functionality you're hoping to obtain from your network by adding wireless capabilities.

If I'm understanding your question correctly, you're just wanting to allow network access for wireless devices on an existing wired LAN. The product you end up purchasing will depend greatly upon your needs.

Some considerations:

  • Expected range, coverage, and throughput
  • Approximate number of wireless devices anticipated
  • Expected traffic types and load
  • Impact on existing infrastructure

You mentioned that your existing network is 100meg. Depending on the amount of traffic you anticipate passing through your AP, you may want to consider running Gb AT LEAST from the AP to the WAN. Easiest method is making the logical distance between the AP and the WAN as short as possible. Use an open port on the router or the first switch. This way, if you have a lot of wireless traffic, the impact on the wired LAN would be negligible. Just cap the bandwidth on the wireless traffic to prevent bottlenecking at the WAN. Personally, I'd recommend upgrading to Gb anyway for infrastructure scalability.

Everything I've said thus far is assuming the wireless devices will have internet access. You also need to determine whether wireless clients will need access to LAN resources or not.

Two major questions that need to be answered before I can give a recommendation: how large is your existing network, and are you running managed equipment?

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To address one thing in your question: you do not need a wireless range extender, you need a wireless AP. A range extender will do you no good if you don't already have an AP. Now, if you're wanting to cover a large area, buying a cheap AP and a range extender may be more cost-effective than buying an expensive AP with larger coverage. It all comes down to what you're wanting to achieve. But to clarify: if you don't currently have wireless, a range extender will not help you. – bw. Jun 15 '13 at 19:04

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