Q

How can I link buildings for wifi using a wireless router?

I am attempting to use wireless to connect five different buildings to the Internet.

I am attempting to use wireless to connect five different buildings to the Internet. Buildings are spaced 100 to 500 meters from the main office, with five or so PCs per building. Wiring is not an option because the ground is too rocky to lay cable, and there are too many trees to hang cable.

We tried putting a Linksys wireless router in bridge mode at each building, running wired network connections to the router from the local PCs, and using the router to bridge the distance to the main office. Whatever the cause, we could never get Internet access.

Do you have any ideas how this might be done?

In theory, what you describe should work. A lot depends upon which Linksys router you're using. You may need to do a firmware upgrade; the first stop is Linksys Tech Support; describe to them what you're doing, and the specific model and firmware revision.

There are other options, though. You can use client bridges, which are client devices that have Ethernet ports, in place of the APs in bridge mode. Third-party firmware that turns APs into clients is available for some Linksys models; this might work for you but should obviously be used with caution. You can buy a point-to-multipoint (P2P or PTMP) bridge (available from a number of sources), or you could use a wireless mesh system (ditto). The big question is distance -- it may be that your endpoints are too far apart, and the connection quality is weak or broken. You might be able to use add-on booster antennas if that's the problem. Linksys sells a number of these.

I personally use client bridges in cases like these -- they're cheap, simple, and designed specifically for this application. Good luck!

This was first published in February 2007

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