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Bridging LANs wirelessly

Correct equipment and configuration is key to successfully bridging networks with a WLAN.

My customer has a small business and wants to set up a small network between two small LANs. One LAN consists of around 30-40 users running off Windows Small Business Server 2003. The other LAN has around 10 users currently not on a domain.

The two locations are situated approximately 200-300 feet apart, separated by a street. There is one building on the street that slightly obscures the view between locations. I set up two Buffalo wireless access points and installed antennas on the roof of each location.

However, we only acquire intermittent signals between antennas for around 30 seconds, sometimes not at all. It is never consistent. We are using different channels on the access points and have tried variations of channels (i.e., one and four, one and six, two and seven, five and seven, etc.). I tried moving the antenna at one location so that we have line of sight between the antennas, but with no luck.

I believe all settings are as they should be on the access points. I'm wondering if the equipment is not up to scratch.

The customer doesn't want to install an independent server at the smaller LAN. Besides, Small Business Server does not allow communication between LANs with servers in each. I'm ruling out a VPN, as these seem inadequate for transferring large files. Any ideas for a best approach?

If I understand your question correctly, all you're trying to do is to bridge two LANs using a wireless LAN (WLAN) connection.

First, note that both access points (APs) used in bridging must be set to the same channel. And not all APs can be used as bridges, so check to see if the documentation for yours describes how to set this up. There are lots of point-to-point bridges based on WLAN radios available, so I am sure you'll be able to locate equipment to get this to work.

Assuming a correct configuration, you may be suffering from an interfering problem, with the source of interference perhaps, or perhaps not, another WLAN system operating nearby. These problems can be very difficult to solve, and you'll need specialized equipment. Two sources of such test equipment are Cognio -- which I highly recommend and use myself -- and Berkeley Varitronics. You might consider a bridge operating in the 5.8 GHz. unlicensed band, as interference there is relatively unlikely. Finally, the VPN shouldn't be an issue, and should work just fine across the wireless bridge, albeit with a little tuning.

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