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Recommend a wireless router/LAN setup?

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Grafter
Posts: 55
Registered: 13-08-2007

Recommend a wireless router/LAN setup?

Does anyone have any experience setting up a wireless LAN for use as a home system?

I am hoping to go ADSL in 6-8 weeks and wanted to connect a Win2K desktop, a Linux box and 2 laptops via a wireless network so they all have web access as well as p2p sharing.

Has anyone got any experience with wireless and any recommendations of kit - I am looking for a single box to do the adsl, lan and wireless duties as well as PC and PCMCIA cards.

Also, what about range and security? The WAP will be in a stone built detached house if it helps...
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Phil Reed
[re-create] | www.re-create-it.co.uk
5 REPLIES
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RE: Recommend a wireless router/LAN setup?

> Does anyone have any experience setting up a wireless LAN for use as a home system?
>
> I am hoping to go ADSL in 6-8 weeks and wanted to connect a Win2K desktop, a Linux box and 2 laptops via a wireless network so they all have web access as well as p2p sharing.
>
> Has anyone got any experience with wireless and any recommendations of kit - I am looking for a single box to do the adsl, lan and wireless duties as well as PC and PCMCIA cards.
>
> Also, what about range and security? The WAP will be in a stone built detached house if it helps...
>
> --
> Phil Reed
> [re-create] | www.re-create-it.co.uk
>

Hi Phil,
Although I dont have any direct experience of wireless setup's myself (I did do my MCSE on windows200 though), I do know that one way you could achieve this design would be to purchase an ADSL wireless access point (probably with a router built in) this is then connected to your Win2K desktop machine but would offer wirless internet access to your other laptops & linux box.

Wireless PCMCIA cards should be fairly straight forwards as there are a number of makers offering them. Also have a look at Dlinks website as they do many high quality wireless (802.11b)products also ADSL products URL: www.dlink.com or dlink.co.uk

**Becareful of WEP the default settings are about as secure as a chocolate fireguard, you MUST change these settings if your going to have any reasonable degree of data security.

Hope this helps abit

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N/A

RE: Recommend a wireless router/LAN setup?

> Does anyone have any experience setting up a wireless LAN for use as a home system?

My machines are all provided with ADSL access through the Netgear DG814 router/modem, which is very good with a nice web interface to set it up and a hardware firewall. I've also got a separate Netgear wireless access point on the same network for the laptop.

I notice now that Netgear do an all-in-one ADSL router/firewall/modem and wireless access point with a built in 4-port switch (DG824M). This would be just what you need, but I think it's about £170, and you'd probably have to buy the PC & PCMCIA cards separately.

The range of my WAP is very good - it works anywhere in the house with a strong signal. It also offers 128-bit WEP encryption for strong security, using a key which you can set.

Hope this helps in some way.
N/A

RE: Recommend a wireless router/LAN setup?

OK, excuse the long reply! I've been doing some research in this area recently!!

There are now quite a few router devices on the market that offer multi-functions. Typical combinations include some of the following:

- Router ADSL modem and Ethernet interfaces
(typically provides DHCP (automatic IP address assignment), DNS proxy, NAT (Network Address Translation))
- ISDN or PSTN backup if ADSL fails
- Ethernet hub or switch (typically 4 port)
- firewall
- Wireless Access Point
- Printer server
- VPN pass through
- VPN server
- UPnP - Universal Plug and Play - automatic support for Instant Messaging and other applications

On the WAP front, there are various current standards and some new (yet to be ratified by the IEEE 802.11 committee) standards.

The May issue of Personal Computer World has several useful articles on Wireless networking. The range information descried below is drawn from there.

Note: All ranges listed below are approximate for 'full speed' working - your mileage will vary depending on obstacles - further distances can be achieved with different antennas or by speed reduction.

The most usual standard is 802.11b, which operates in the 2.4GHz waveband and provides for 11Mbits/sec at a range of approx 60m indoors and 120m outdoors.

802.11b+ (plus) is a Texas Instruments enhancement (so not a ratified standard), that operates exactly like 802.11b but at twice the speed (22Mbits) - it is interoperable with 802.11b devices which operate at 11Mbits (max) whiles the 802.11b+ devices can still operate upto 22MBits.

802.11a operates in the 5GHz waveband and provides 54Mbits/sec with ranges of 30m outdoors and 12m indoors. It is not interoperable with 802.11b (although some manufacturers are providing dual-mode devices).

802.11g has not yet been ratified by IEEE yet, but will operate in the 2,4GHz waveband with an outdoor full speed range of 50m and indoors of 20m. It is expected to be fully compatible with 802.11b, supporting 802.11g devices at upto full speed (54Mbit) and 802.11b devices at 11Mbit.

Broadcom is promoting 54G, which is an implementation of a draft of 802.11g (and therefore uses the same waveband and has similar ranges) - it does interoperate with 802.11b, but only by slowing all devices down to the 802.11b standard.

The actual network speed will never be the full quoted speed - it is using the Ethernet protocols! - On a wired Ethernet, you generally don't get any better than about 50% of the rated speed and the same is true of wireless speeds. In the 2.4GHz waveband, you can also get interference from Bluetooth and DECT (digital cordless phone) devices and even microwave ovens, but for the small number of devices in a detached residential building, you should not see much degradation.

A separate internal or external antenna can be used with most WAPs to get a better range (but if you want this you should check that there is a suitable connector before ordering!), but these tend to be more 'directional' antennas. Solwise have some good pages on the wireless and antennas at http://www.solwise.co.uk/networkingwireless.htm.

A stone building is likely to absorb the wireless signals, so something that operates in the 2.4GHz waveband will be better than 5GHz (so we can probably rule out 802.11a, which tends to be a bit more expensive anyway).

On the WAP security front, you should only allow wireless adaptors for which you have registered MAC addresses (although MAC addresses can be spoofed, it deters the casual connection attempts), don't use an obvious network ID (SSID) and look to use at least 128bit WEP and change the key fairly regularly, say every 30 - 60 days. To be 'extra' secure, you could look at running an encrypted VPN tunnel over the wireless connection, but this would reduce performance a bit and increase complexity, besides that would start to limit you to the WAP/router that can act a VPN servers (Draytek and Solwise) unless you want to run a VPN server on a 'wired' server. You should also change the default administration user name and password!

On the firewall front, to be secure, then you'd probably want to have a filtering and stateful packet inspection firewall that supports NAT and port redirection.

I suggest you make a 'shopping list' of functions, then look at products from the likes of:

Draytek (the Vigor 2600 series) http://www.draytek.co.uk/products/vigor2600.html
SMC (Barricade 74xx series) http://www.smc-europe.com
DLink (DSL-50x / DSL-504) http://www.dlink.co.uk
NetGear (DG 8xx) http://www.netgear.co.uk
ZyXEL (Prestige 650H Series) http://www.zyxel.co.uk
Solwise (SAR715 series) http://www.solwise.co.uk/modems.htm

What do I use? you might ask - well in truth, I don't at the moment (waiting for ADSL activation in early May), but I would like either a Draytek Vigor 2600We or Solwise SAR715PV-W (both wireless ADSL routers, 4 port switch, Wireless access point, VPN server, firewall) - unfortunately, neither yet the new wireless 802.11g / 54g non-standard standard!

Regards

Neil
NormanB
Dabbler
Posts: 21
Registered: 30-07-2007

RE: Recommend a wireless router/LAN setup?

Phil

You have a fullsome set of replies and Neil has given you lots of techie info.

As a humble ADSL newbie - I am using a DLink DSL604+ which is an ADSL router (with 4 ports) and wireless. I have 2 PCs on Cat 5 in 2 of the ports and 1 PC on the WLan at the moment. When I was setting up signal strength was 100% ( coz the machines were less than 1 metre apart!!) Now that machine is in my daughters bedroom which from the router is about 30 metres and at an angle of 45 degrees (if that makes sense) - the signal strength is around the 85% mark but it seems happy at 22Mbs (I may have used the wrong units there). Not been very technical I tested the speed by transferring a 13MB file over the WLAN - didn't time it -it was damn quick though and normal internet browsing just does not appear any different on the wireless machine to the hard wired ones.

My set up has not been cheap but I wanted flexibility as I am soon to add a laptop to my geekie kit and my son who already has a rather sleek laptop visits regularly and he will access the net via the WLan too.

I paid £156 for the DSL 604+ and £ 46 for the DWL 520+ PCI Card ( Dreaded VAT on top though!) The PCMIA cards are similarly priced.

I found the setting up procedure fairly straightforward, although I must admit the firewall aspects and to a lesser extent wireless security went over my head a tadge.

DLink customer support is a bit flakey, they never reply to emails - even though it is an offered service. Telephone support is patchy and largely depends on who you get to speak to - in the main there is a language barrier and I think there customer support may be patched through to the Indian sub continent - onothing wrong with that per se - but I have had probs!

One irritating problem I experience was upgrading the firmware - the utility just not seem to work I tied 3 or 4 times - then it did miraculously - but the help line was rrubbish!

Overall though I am pleased with the kit, it works, looks good and I have 2 spare ports for when I can afford a couple of printer servers!!

NormanB
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Grafter
Posts: 55
Registered: 13-08-2007

RE: Recommend a wireless router/LAN setup?

> Does anyone have any experience setting up a wireless LAN for use as a home system?
>

After all the helpfull replies I thought the PC thing to do was reply to myself and thank you all :-)

Obvisouly there are some emerging standards and lots of chage going on. I am not looking to get this setup for 2-3 months now so hopefully 'g' will be fully sorted by the time we get setup. The extra network speed will be handy for what I ultimately plan to do with a small home server.

The general feeling I am getting is that this is a neat solution and the only real drawback to the lack of wires is the security - which is obvious. Since I will be basing my kit in a stone built detatched house in a residential area, I think this could be less of an issue that for a company, for example.

Hopefully things will be clearer and the prices dropped in 2-3 months - but this is the way I am going! Thanks.
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Phil Reed
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