WDS : Use it to Extend WiFi Coverage at Home

Surely many have seen it in the web menu of your router, but they do not know what the function is. As we are used to doing, we will take you out of doubt. We will explain everything related to the WDS function and how you can expand the Wi-Fi coverage in your home with this function. Yes, with this function you can put an end to one of the problems that affect many users, since the installed routers, in most of the cases, do not have a good performance in terms of the wireless interface.

WDS – Wireless Distribution System

WDS ( Wireless Distribution System ) we could say that it is a way to connect two devices, without going into technical details for the moment. In this case, routers or access points. This allows us to carry out two mutually exclusive actions:

  • Expand the coverage of an SSID issued by a router
  • Connect two devices to interconnect different subnets.

Surely the first option is the one that most interests the users. The second not so much, since, the wireless interface is reserved in its entirety for the link between the devices. That is, no wireless client can connect.

WDS - Wireless Distribution System

Going into a little more technical details. The two options mentioned above are known as:

  • WDS or Wireless Repeater
  • WDS-AP

It is convenient not to confuse with WPS. It is true that the similarity is enough, but the purpose is not. This allows the management of the connections to a wireless network in a simple way, avoiding resorting to the keys that in many occasions were long and difficult to remember.

Positive and Negative Aspects of WDS

Like everything, it is necessary to talk about the good and the shortcomings.

The main advantage is related to the treatment of the packages. To be precise, the original MAC address of the packets is maintained.

The other advantage is that it allows, in a relatively simple way, to extend the Wi-Fi coverage of our home.

However, the disadvantages are important, and you have to take them into account.

To operate the WDS in the home, we need the two devices to be compatible. But this does not guarantee the correct operation unless they are equipment of the same manufacturer. What we want to say is that we do not have an IEEE standard. This means that interoperability between equipment is not guaranteed. Hence, problems may appear, or the pairing simply does not work.

The other disadvantage is that the wireless performance is reduced by half with each jump. What we mean is that, if we connect three routers / APs using WDS, the loss of performance of the third with respect to the first will be 50%.

Operating modes of the devices

When a device has the WDS option, it can work in three different ways:

  • As an access point for clients to connect.
  • As a “bridge”, 100% dedicated to this function and not available for other devices to connect.
  • A dual operation, offering a client access point and a bridge to connect another device.

The purpose of the last point is simply to create a wireless network in which the routers / APs connect to each other wirelessly, allowing the connection of clients through the wireless interface or network ports.

Where can I find this option on my router / AP

In this case, we can only make an approximation of where this function is. Each router / AP has a different configuration menu, and it is complicated to match them all.

In our case, in the router Observe facilitated by the operator Movistar, we can find this option in the Advanced option of the menu, which can be selected at the top. It will be in the Wireless section where you place this option.

As a general rule, this option can be found in the section related to the Wi-Fi options of the router / AP.

Set up two computers using WDS to extend Wi-Fi home coverage

Before detailing the process, a series of considerations should be taken into account.

The first and we could consider basic, is that the devices must be compatible with WDS. That is, they must have this option on the web menu. Otherwise, the configuration cannot be performed.

Another aspect to keep in mind is that the routers / APs must be configured on the same channel. This is not an obligation, it can be configured and operated more or less correctly in different channels.

If the equipment to be used is very old, it is not advisable to use WPA security, having to comply with WEP or even MAC filtering.

Once we have taken these into account, we can start with the configuration of both devices.

Depends on what type of security we choose, the process will vary. For example, in the case of the previous capture we have made of the observer, we have to indicate the MAC of the other device that will be used to repeat the signal. Meanwhile, in which we want to connect, we must offer the MAC address of the router or AP to which we are going to connect and the wireless security. That is, the WEP or WPA password that the SSID has.

NOTE: To avoid problems accessing the equipment, we must modify the address of one of them, since, in most cases, it will be 192.168.1.1. It is also convenient to deactivate the DHCP server in which you are going to connect to the other, leaving this task to which we could consider router or main AP.

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