Monday, March 9, 2009

Dual-Band Time Capsule and AirPort Extreme Base Station

Glenn Fleishman:

In a briefing, Apple explained that you can give the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks the same name, and Apple hardware that supports 802.11n can choose which network to join based on quality of the signal and the speed that’s available. This feature is unique to Apple gear; Windows and other platforms select somewhat randomly from available networks with the same name.

You can also name the two bands’ networks separately, and manually force 802.11n clients to join the 5 GHz network.

I wonder how many people are, like me, already doing the latter using a base station plus an AirPort Express.

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I don't have an AirPort Express, I have an older domed AirPort I got for free and then I picked up a new AP Extreme (pre-dual radio). I have them as seperate b/g and n networks since it just seemed like the smart thing to do.

I do, for two reasons. I don't want to mix my 802.11b/g units with my 802.11n units because of speed. And partly because I have to ISP, so I use it for redundancy.

I do, to keep the 'n' side as fast as possible (since it may be used for Time Capsule backup).

An interesting thing will be to see if you have a dual-AP setup, and name the networks the same, the AirPort client changes to support the dual-radio base station will pick the network with the best signal strength. (Unfortunately my dual n/g setup like this is in Boston, and I'm not, so I can't test it.)

Well, sort of...

I run an OpenWRT/BusyBox/Linux based router for 802.11g, not an Airport Express. I use it as a low power network services server (RADIUS, DHCP, NETBIOS, DNS, etc), and it's done the job for 3 years without a hiccup.

My 802.11n(2) Apple device on the other hand, has been a pain in the neck since day one. I use it as an 5GHz 802.11(n) AP (bridged), iTunes music file server, and a switch for my (Myth-TV) DVR. Among its most irritating features, every firmware update has brought new headaches, and usually requires a manual re-entry of all configuration parameters. I'd need ten pages to relate all the problems it's caused with file sharing, printer sharing, and signal brownouts.

Given the craptastic performance of that device, I absolutely would not trust Time Capsule backups.

John Thomas: I don’t trust the Time Capsule, either—the hard drive is inaccessible, and I was never able to get the Archive feature to work. Right now I’m using an external drive attached to the Time Capsule, so that I can get at it directly, if I need to.

I have a Time Capsule ("Netski") with an AirPort Express ("Getski") attached to it. Is the consensus that we should try changing the names back to the same name? It's not like this method doesn't work - I'll probably just leave them named differently.

My household laptops aren't mission critical, so they back up to the Time Capsule and it's always worked fine, FWIW.

Dan Daranciang

I just set up a 802.11b/g AirPort Express with the same SSID as my existing 802.11n AirPort Extreme (1st gen), and I'm using MAC address filtering to force my devices to join the network that's appropriate. My iMac and Apple TV are on the N network, and my PowerBook G4, iPhone 3G, Wii and PlayStation 3 are on the G network.

I have a small place, so relative signal strength is not an issue.

Long Distance Wireless Router...

We've been looking into problems like this in the past and have found their are a lot of different solutions....

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