How to bridge wireless routers

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Adding a second wireless router to a network can greatly increase the range and signal strength of the overall network. Bridging routers can also join two or more computers to a Local Area Network (LAN), allowing them to communicate with one another. The second router is a "bridge" that is there to extend the range of the primary router.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Two or more wireless routers
  • DSL or cable Internet access

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Determine the coverage area. When using two or more routers, the coverage area should be divided, and each router should be placed in a location central to each subdivision. If you're adding a wireless router to an existing network, this might mean moving the first router.

  2. 2

    Decide which router is the primary router. The primary router is connected to the Internet, a wired LAN or other networks. It should be the one closest to the wired network connections or the one with the best line of sight to another wireless network. Also, the primary router should be a high-end router, allowing for larger state tables and more users.

  3. 3

    Buy an after-market antenna, as the antennas that come with most routers don't have very good range. Getting quality omni-directional antennas can boost the range and signal strength of each of the routers, which, in turn, will reduce the overall cost by allowing fewer routers to cover more area.

  4. 4

    Deploy the primary router carefully. This router is the most important and requires the most setup time and options. Set the Service Set Identifier (SSID) and Wireless Encryption Protocol (WEP) key, configure the Internet connection and test the router with some clients (computers). Once you get the primary router deployed, deploying the other routers should be easy.

  5. 5

    Deploy the secondary routers, which should be configured to work in "bridging mode." Secondary routers should be deployed around the perimeter of a large area or at "hot spots" where placed users will gather--for example, at a park bench or table.

Tips and warnings

  • Since secondary routers only bridge traffic and do not actually rout it, they can be of lesser quality than the primary router. However, lesser quality routers often have lower signal strength, so a balance between quality and economy has to be met.
  • You can also connect physically inaccessible networks when you bridge routers. This is helpful in schools or small offices where you don't want to run wires through the ceilings or drill holes in the walls.

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