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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Netgear N300 - WNR2000 Repeater mode installation

EDIT:This installation was completed, and post made when the older firmware was on the routers. A recent firmware update for these Netgear routers has changed the entire GUI that Netgear has used for the last few years. I have not played around with the wireless repeater functions under the new firmware as I only have 1 of these devices in my home and the routers that I wanted to use the repeater mode are connected as APs that I wired with CAT5. I do not know if the newer firmware solves any of the difficulties, or problems that I had when I installed these. 


Today I am installing WiFi in 3 restaurants in NYC. The customer wants 2 APs at each location, because they claim that a single AP will not be enough to cover the entire area that they want covered. While I feel that with proper placement of the APs a single AP should be enough to cover the area that they need, adding an second AP to each location should provide more than enough coverage for all of their patrons.

I choose these routers because I recently purchased one for my own LAN and have so far been satisfied with its performance (other than losing the SSID broadcast if the channel is set to AUTO), and the fact that they have a wireless repeater function. Unfortunately the wireless repeater function is not well documented in the manual, so it took nearly 5 hours, including over an hour on the phone with tech support (from India) just to get the first set programmed as BASE and REPEATER. Then another 2 hours or so to get the other 2 pairs set up as BASE and REPEATER.

Setting routers up as BASE and REPEATER in the home office.

Several hundred dollars worth WNR2000v3 routers ready to go.

N300 - WNR2000v3 programmed and ready to install. 
Now all that is left is to install them at the locations. Some settings are going to have to wait until the devices are on site, such as setting up the WAN side of things.

These routers have a wireless isolation feature, which is great for a hotspot router, because it will prevent wireless devices from accessing the LAN devices, as well as other wireless devices, preventing anyone from attempting to hack the LAN or other wireless devices connected to the network.

I will update this post once everything is installed.

UPDATE 8.7.11 9pm:
Completed 1 of 3 installations.
Everything worked fine, until the customer decided that he wanted to secure the wireless. This was installed for customers, so was designed with WiFi being open, and wireless isolation turned on, so that wireless devices could not access any devices on the LAN including the APs web configuration. The documentation states that WEP is the only security option that is compatible, enabling WEP does not allow me to access the SSID that the repeater has been assigned.

I would not recommend setting this up as a wireless repeater unless you want to run your WiFi open. You CAN set MAC filtering if you have a list of devices you want to allow, but that is not a good security policy in general, especially not for a restaurant where you do not know the MAC addresses of the devices that are going to connect ahead of time.

I will be returning to the location that I completed, and will be moving the "repeater" router from the main floor where the base router has sufficient coverage, and pulling a CAT5 from the main floor, to the basement where there is an office, and changing the settings on the router. I will likely be setting the SSID to the same as on the main floor, with the same WEP key, so that anyone who has a device that connects to the 1st floor AP can access the device in the basement AP.

I will likely set up the other 2 locations the same way, and forget about this whole repeater mode that I spent so much time configuring..

UPDATE:
All 3 locations have been installed. I had to use them as regular APs and do away with the whole repeater mode feature of the routers. Once WEP (which is the only security supported in repeater mode) was enabled I was unable to see both SSIDs, so each router is wired to a CAT5 and is set up as a regular AP.

I will probably not ever use Netgear APs again for a commercial installation. 

2 comments:

  1. I would probably use a WNR2000 as the router and get one of their dedicated repeater devices like the WN2000RPT to repeat the base signal. I'm not sure why they would advertise the WNR2000 which is a router model as having repeating mode if it was going to be such a drag to install though.

    I'm not too happy with NETGEAR's newer devices either - though I've heard recent firmware updates they've released were a good improvement.

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  2. Wait... why on earth would it only support WEP in repeater mode? I'm going to assume they patched that out in the later firmware editions or I'll lose my faith in Netgear.

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