Monday, June 9, 2008

Extend Coverage of Your Wi-Fi Hotspot (WDS)

The most frequently asked question by Hotspot Operators is: How can i extend my Hotspot's coverage?

There are several methods for that.

The best way is to set up another internet source if you can, away from the first source (order one more ADSL line for example) and connect another router to that source. This is good for busy venues.

But you can extend your existing coverage by setting up repeaters. You can connect 2 routers by cable, but you can also connect 2 or more routers via WDS (Wireless Distribution System).
You can find a well written tutorial here about setting up WDS.

There are 2 methods to get WDS routers working with Hotspot System:

1) You can set the first router's LAN port to get through the Hotspot login page as well. The second router will receive paid internet so the same start page will be displayed to anyone who connect to the second router. With this method you can use any repeaters. The disadvantage is that the Router Alert function will not work so you will not know when the WDS router is down.

2) You give free internet to the second router (by leaving the LAN ports to have FREE internet access), and run the same setup command on the second router. For busy venues, this is the suggested method because it will reduce the system load on the first router (there will be 2 routers who will handle Hotspot accesses).

Alternatively you can add a new location to your account and run the command for this location to track which routers were used by your customers.

If you're using the same location's command on both routers, don't forget to add '_wds' to the Radius NAS ID to get Router Alerts from the WDS router too (on the Chillispot page of the router's admin panel). If you're using more WDS routers, you can add '_wds_2', '_wds_3', etc, AND turn off SPI Firewalls on the routers (Security tab).

Now you can get a LinkSys WRT54GL from Amazon with a $10 rebate from LinkSys (Offer valid through June 30).