By Jimmy@smalldog.com

During some of my consulting appointments, people have asked me about how they can extend their wireless networks. Most people just purchase a second or third Airport Express and create entirely new wireless networks. It sounds like a good idea, and it can be, but there is actually a better way to get the job done.

Airport Extreme and Express come with a really neat feature called WDS or Wireless Distribution System. This allows you to add Airport base stations into an already existing wireless network without having to create something entirely separate. You’re essentially expanding you’re network, making it bigger, all while maintaining the same, single wireless network.

Let’s say for example you use a new Airport Extreme on the first floor of your house, but also have an office over the garage, too far away for the signal to reach. You can simply purchase an Airport Express, plug it in either closer to the office or in the office itself. From there, use the Airport Admin Utility (included in every OS X install) and use the built-in setup tool to set up the new Express. The first screen that you will see when you start the setup tool is one that asks you if you want to:

A) Create a new wireless network OR
B) Join an existing wireless network

Choose the second option, to join an existing wireless network. From there it’ll walk you through the rest of the setup which is very simple. Once completed you’ll have a larger unified wireless network.

This is a great solution for people with large houses or concrete walls or other interferences and also for office buildings. It allows you to have a single wireless network instead of multiple individual ones. It makes it easier to secure, manage and maintain.

The following articles might prove useful:

http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=107454
http://www.vonwentzel.net/ABS/Configuration/OSXExtreme/WDS/index.html

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