This is a question I'm curious about and I don't seem to be able to find the answers through research.

Lets assume the following situation:

In a large building, internet access enters the building. This point is far away from where the users are. For the sake of this question, using network cables from the internet accesspoint to where the users are is not possible.

Now, normally you could use a powerline adapter to bridge the area from where the main internet connection is to where the users are.

But would it be possible to use 2 access points to do the same?

So basically, make 2 accesspoints communicate with eachother relaying all traffic back and forth?

If so, is there specific hardware required (not looking for a hardware recommendation)?

The final situation could look something like this:

modem > router > wifi accesspoint > wifi accesspoint > switch > user

I am aware that one could use a laptop with wifi to do the same, but I'm looking for a solution that could be permanent.


Yes if they support it. There's easier ways and devices that are specifically designed to do this.

The 'simplest' devices that do this is, oddly enough a wireless range extender. They connect to one network, and act as an AP with the same or different SSID to improve range. The average extender will have a ethernet port you can plug into a switch this way. That said, you need to be in range of the first AP (and decent signal strength is required), and you can't exactly daisy chain these things for better range in a large space. Its perfect though for filling gaps in coverage or connecting a non wifi device to wifi without cabling.

Not all devices let you turn off the extender/repeater function so if you don't need that, you may need to do a little comparison shopping. My netgear won't. Apparently asus will.

You'd have something like this with a extender.

CPE+-------------->AP ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Extender~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Other wifiish things
                                                           +----------> Switch

Otherwise, APs can do this with firmware support. Assuming it works - since I've never gotten this to work on a router that allegedly supports it.

There's also a new wave of mesh networking gear which work pretty similarly, and some of them have ethernet ports you may be able to use the same way. They're pricy, though good if you need to cover an extended area with no wired backhaul it seems. You'd get a kit of 2-3 APs designed to work together, with minimal configuration.

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  • I assume "range extenders" are the new marketing name for what used to be APs and/or repeaters? – user1686 Dec 19 '16 at 12:58
  • Also, recently I've seen various new products specifically built for this – Amplifi, Eero, Google Wi-Fi Something-or-Other. They might perform better than regular repeaters, though still not as good as wired APs. – user1686 Dec 19 '16 at 13:00
  • Repeaters I suppose. Amplifi, eero and wifi are mesh networking devices. Which I totally forgot about, and need to educate myself about shortly. – Journeyman Geek Dec 19 '16 at 13:01
  • Range extenders and repeaters cut the throughput in half. A wireless bridge, such as those sold by the various consumer-grade companies are simple, usually have four ethernet interfaces, and avoid the throughput problem. – Ron Maupin Dec 19 '16 at 13:08
  • I thought that was WDS - and speeds halved after the first hop . You wouldn't/shouldn't see that with a single unit, mainly acting as a bridge – Journeyman Geek Dec 19 '16 at 13:43

I actually do that with pretty cheap TP-Link routers running the Gargoyle Router firmware, with both routers set to establish WiFi bridges using WDS.

I use Gargoyle because of the easy interfaces (there is a prêt-a-porte version for most needed scenarios and you don't need to hunt for and analyze plugins), but you can do that with OpenWrt too, and by that you increase dramatically the range of supported routers.

Just be advised that this is not incredibly efficient (you double the traffic over WiFi) and the second "leg" of the network only gets the bandwidth available where the second WAP is installed.

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Some routers can do the same functions as a range booster, but have the ability to limit traffic, so you could have 2 entirely different sets of network rules with one AP if you go this route.

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