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I have an Arris modem-router combo I use for my Xfinity home WiFi. It's the only one that works with Xfinity that supports VoIP which I have. There are parts of my house that I don't get good WiFi coverage for so I bought a NETGEAR WiFi Ranger Extender. I noticed the range extender requires me to create a secondary WiFi network off it and does not simply extend my existing signal with the same network ID. The documentation for my range extender says in WiFi mode it will generate a another network but I can use a hard wire to make it an Access Point. I would really like to extend/repeater my WiFi signal with the following requirements:

  1. Does not create a secondary network, so I can roam about the house and my devices will seamlessly be on the same network.
  2. Does not require a hard wire connection from the extender/repeater to my source modem-router.

How can I accomplish this? Do I need another type of extender? Someone suggested to me that if my modem-router combo supports WDS (wireless distribution system) and the extender does then its simply a configuration issue.

  • You understand that the process of extending the network and extending the network and just giving that network a difference name is the same result, you have two networks the only difference is they are called the same thing. – Ramhound Jan 19 '16 at 15:34
  • Yes. Think of a corporate environment. WiFi APs all around. You connect to a "single" network e.g. My Company's WiFi and you bounce between APs as you roam around the office, but you don't need to connect to different SSIDs. That said these are all hard wired together as APs. I simply want to same thing but not hard-wired together. Does that make sense? – Mark Jan 19 '16 at 15:38
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    That would require hardware with firmware that supported more customization and you don't have that. – Ramhound Jan 19 '16 at 15:41
  • Ok, that's an acceptable answer, which is why I was asking the question. So based on your comments, it sounds like its not possible with an off the shelf repeater/extender to extend the range of a WiFi network without creating a separate network SSID and forcing devices to manually switch over between networks? – Mark Jan 19 '16 at 15:44
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Yes, Apple's AirPort Express can join an arbitrary wireless network and extend it wirelessly with the same network name, and have it all act as a single bridged [W]LAN.

I seem to recall that some older "flat square" 802.11n AirPort Extremes and Time Capsules had a hidden way to do this as well, but that feature didn't make it into the current "tower" shaped 802.11ac models. But the current AirPort Express still does it.

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Hopefully one of these can help point you in the right direction...

If your WiFi Extender only has an option for creating a new network, you could try setting this Extender's SSID / Password / Security to the exact same settings as the main router. This is typically how you setup a second Access Point in bridge mode when they are connected by LAN, so this may or may not work for you.

As mentioned by others, certain brands of routers and extenders just don't play well together, meaning their firmwares do not support certain configurations. I too had the Arris combo modem/router, but quickly replaced it with a separate modem & router once I found the Arris incompatible with many of Apple's AirPort features.

Someone mentioned WDS, which is an option if both devices support it, just keep in mind wireless extenders will typically cut the bandwidth in about half (since it has overhead from 2 way traffic).

Some devices, like Apple's AirPort Expresses (not the Extremes or Time Capsules) support a "client mode", which lets the AP/extender join your main network as if it were another wireless client. Other manufacturers (like Netgear) use a different name than "client mode", so you would need to look that up. The problem with client mode, however, is that some extenders (like the AirPort Expresses) will connect to the network wirelessly, but only pass the network on through its LAN port(s).

All AirPort Devices offer a better way of extending a network wirelessly using Apple's own proprietary protocol (WDS has been outdated completely by a better method on newer models). The catch is both the main router and extender have to be any of Apple's AirPort models. If not, you can still extend the network (without having to create a new SSID), you just have to connect the 1 Apple device and 1 other Brand device using a wired LAN connection.

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They now make a product that is hardwired using your existing house's power wiring (meaning you don't need to run new wiring from point to point). This would be called a powerline ethernet kit and one is made by Zylex ((PLA5206KIT)). You could implement this and then add a second wireless router at the location of the "plug" system and set that up as an AP (access point) in which it would be the same wireless network (vs. a second one). At least this is my understanding of this approach (and I am by zero means an expert on this)!

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