D-Link AirPlus Enhanced 2.4GHz Wireless Range Extender - Page 2

By Joseph Moran

April 04, 2003

Once I had all of the configuration issues behind me, I got down to the business of determining whether the DWL-800AP+ did in fact extend the range of my wireless network. I began by testing performance of the unassisted DI-614+ router (using NetIQ's Chariot). The throughput was solidly in the 6-7Mbps range from 10 feet until about 125 feet, the point when virtually every wireless signal substantially wanes in my office environment. Based on the D-Link client utility, at 125 feet the wireless signal strength was mired in the poor range-- around 40%, which cut throughput to a little more than 4 Mbps. Just beyond this distance, the signal vanished entirely.

Introducing the DWL-800AP+ at a point approximately 100 feet from the router indeed improved signal strength considerably. The signal strength at the 125 foot point (25 feet from the repeater) jumped up to a few points below full strength and yielded throughput of about 3 Mbps. A strong signal was also obtained at the 150 foot point--good for a throughput of 2.52 Mbps.

In fact, though 50 feet was as far away as I could get from the DWL-800AP+ within the confines of my building, I was able to continue to get a strong signal (greater than 50%) outside the building and 100 feet down the street (and through a stone and masonry wall), though at this point the throughput had admittedly dwindled down to the sub-1 Mbps level. This made for a combined total of over 250 feet from the original router.

Incidentally, the D-Link client software automatically switched its association from the router over to the repeater within a few seconds after contact with the former was lost.

While DWL-800AP+ does greatly extend range, it doesn't necessarily do much to improve throughput. This is not unexpected, since DWL-800AP+ must use its 22 Mbps of bandwidth to simultaneously communicate with a client and a router. Because of this you're not going to enjoy the throughput you would if you were associated directly with the router. Of course, using the device in straight-802.11b mode or with multiple clients will further impact throughput.

No matter, since the DWL-800AP+ does what it advertises; it gives you stronger wireless signals and significantly extended network range. Because of its vague documentation and the perplexing firmware issue I encountered, the DWL-800AP+ was more of a hassle to set up than it needed to be. On the other hand, depending on what product you use in conjunction with it and what firmware version it has, you may not have the same trouble. If you have compatible D-Link hardware and want to extend the reach of your network, I recommend it.

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