Gigaom | How-To: Setup an Airport Extreme in Bridge Mode

AirPort Extreme Join a wireless Network


Wi–Fi base station - Any variety of AirPort Extreme Base Station, AirPort Express, or Time Capsule.

Extending a wireless network - Using multiple Wi-Fi base stations wirelessly to extend the range of an AirPort network over a wider physical area, when the range of a single base station is insufficient.

Multi Wi-Fi base station network - A network that utilizes more than one Wi-Fi base station to extend the range of a network, or to extend features such as Internet access, music streaming, printing, storage, etc. The Wi-Fi base stations may be connected together via Ethernet or wirelessly.

Wi-Fi Client - A Wi-Fi client is any device that uses Wi-Fi (access to the Internet, printing, storage, or music streaming). Client examples include computers, iPad, iPhone, game console, digital video recorder, and/or other Wi-Fi devices.

Primary base station - This is typically the base station that connects to the modem and has the gateway address to the Internet. It is common for the primary Wi-Fi base station to provide the DHCP service for the Wi-Fi network.

Extended Wi-Fi base station - Any Wi-Fi base station that connects to a primary Wi-Fi base station to extend the range of the network. Unless otherwise indicated, extended Wi-Fi base stations should be set to use bridge mode.

Throughput - The amount of data that is transmitted or received each second, measured in megabits per second (Mbps).

Choosing between single versus multiple Wi-Fi base stations

Before you add additional Wi-fi base stations to your network, you should consider whether or not you really need to.

Adding Wi-Fi base stations when it is unnecessary can reduce Wi-Fi throughput because the Wi-Fi network will require more data management overhead. The network configuration also becomes more complex. In the case of a wirelessly extended network, throughput may be reduced to less than 60 percent of that of a single device. The general rule is to keep the Wi-Fi network as simple as possible. You can accomplish this by using the minimum number of Wi-Fi base stations required to service the physical network area and by using Ethernet wherever possible.

Extending the range of your Wi-Fi network by connecting Wi-Fi base stations together using Ethernet is always the best option, and will provide the best throughput. Ethernet offers up to one gigabit rate, which is much faster than wireless (for wireless, the maximum rate is 450 Mbps on 802.11n @ 5 GHz). Ethernet is also resistant to radio frequency interference and is easier to troubleshoot. Additionally, as there is virtually no management overhead over Ethernet, more data will move from one point to another in the same space of time.