Wireless 802.11g Streaming for Cheap! - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 703 Old 10-08-2003, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
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I just bought 4 Buffalo Technologies Wireless Broadband Router Basestations (WBR-G54). I wanted to upgrade my home wireless network to 802.11g so that I could stream back and forth between my two new 5040's. Why did I buy four of these, you might be asking, especially if I am replacing just one Apple Airport 802.11b basestation? Well, the one nice feature of these WBR-G54's is that they have WDS-bridging capabilities. In addition, the bridging can be used simultaneously while serving other wireless and wired clients (unlike the Linksys boxes)! And the best part...they were only $85 each at Dell.com (compared with $249 for ONE Airport Extreme BS).

So all four 802.11g boxes are hooked up now and working PERFECTLY from the get-go. I'm really excited. I finally set up my second 5040 and it downloaded 5.1/19 to boot! Can't seem to get the first 5040 update yet. But high quality streaming works perfectly without any pixelation or skips. My wife got that teary-eyed look and everything when I explained the feature to her.

AND DVArchive is also working better than ever...seems to work with 5.1/19 as is. There is something amazing about watching recorded TV on a PowerBook WIRELESSLY. DVArchive is showing a transfer rate of around 1MB/s (if I remember correctly).

FYI, PC Magazine just re-tested the WBR-G54. It has the fastest throughput of all 802.11g stations tested. I didn't see this until after I placed my order, but it's nice to know anyways.
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post #2 of 703 Old 10-08-2003, 01:21 PM
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Since you bought this from Dell, I'm just curious why you opted for the Buffalo Technologies device instead of Dell's own Truemobile 2300. It's about the same price ($89) and it also supports bridging. I'm also looking for a couple of routers with bridging support, and had narrowed it down to these two, so I'm curious why you decided to opt for the Buffalo's.

Did you also consider any of the 802.11g routers claiming to support 108Mbps (eg. USRobotics, Netgear)? I was intrigued by those, but none seem to support bridging.
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post #3 of 703 Old 10-08-2003, 01:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, to be completely honest with you, I've never been a big Dell fan. They don't make any of their own stuff really, and they are such a big organization that quality and customer service have never been a big forte. I only ordered from Dell.com because they had the lowest price on the Buffalo unit.

The people at Buffalo are wonderful. I have called several times with presales tech questions and each person (I think there are really only two or three) has been patient and very knowledgeable. And you can tell that they are very enthusiastic about their products.

Also, Buffalo has had a history with working with Appletalk, which is what I (still) use at home with some existing laser printers. The Buffalo box also looks cleaner and sleeker, IMHO.

BTW, as I mentioned the Buffalo products *all* support WDS bridging. AND you can use them in client mode even when WDS bridging is turned on, which is something not too commonly found. The main reason I started this thread is to let others know that this is another working solution. Most information out there seems to focus on Linksys products, which aren't necessarily the best or most inexpensive.
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post #4 of 703 Old 10-08-2003, 02:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by jwtseng
The main reason I started this thread is to let others know that this is another working solution. Most information out there seems to focus on Linksys products, which aren't necessarily the best or most inexpensive.
I hear you. I started a thread a month ago specifically asking if anyone had any non-Linksys recommendations and I didn't get a single reply.
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post #5 of 703 Old 10-09-2003, 04:51 PM
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So did you have to do anything special to set it up? Or was it just plug and play pretty much? I've read about some usability with the Buffalo. I would be interested in knowing how each is configured. I guess the one on the Replay is the only one in "bridge" mode?

What version of the firmware are you on? I'd read that earlier versions of the Buffalo were not working. But I realize that firmware changes all the time.

thanks,
frank
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post #6 of 703 Old 10-09-2003, 05:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by jwtseng

So all four 802.11g boxes are hooked up now and working PERFECTLY from the get-go. I'm really excited. I finally set up my second 5040 and it downloaded 5.1/19 to boot! Can't seem to get the first 5040 update yet. But high quality streaming works perfectly without any pixelation or skips. My wife got that teary-eyed look and everything when I explained the feature to her.

AND DVArchive is also working better than ever...seems to work with 5.1/19 as is. There is something amazing about watching recorded TV on a PowerBook WIRELESSLY. DVArchive is showing a transfer rate of around 1MB/s (if I remember correctly).

FYI, PC Magazine just re-tested the WBR-G54. It has the fastest throughput of all 802.11g stations tested. I didn't see this until after I placed my order, but it's nice to know anyways.
Very interesting. Thanks for the post. Can you give us an idea of how far the WBRs are from each other - i.e. distance and obstacles, etc. Many 802.11b/g products quickly lose performance without line of site and distances >20ft. I'll have to look at the specs to figure out what chipsets are being used - Broadcom chips seem to have pretty lousy range from what I've seen.
Thanks.

UPDATE: First review I found (PC Mag - June 2003) was pretty lousy (especially performance data):
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,1116084,00.asp

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post #7 of 703 Old 10-09-2003, 10:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, PC Magazine re-tested the WBR-G54 this month (wireless special issue) and commented that it had dramatically improved with most recent firmware.

My personal setup has the main router basestation on one end of a two-story 2000 sq ft house (upstairs). One of the 5040's is on the opposite side of the house on the same floor with another bridged basestation. The second 5040 is downstairs towards the middle of the home bridged with yet another basestation to the first 5040. I could have bridged the second 5040 directly to the main router, but I figured a bridging arrangement between the two 5040's might be beneficial. And in fact, I believe that when I am streaming from one RTV to the other, the stream goes directly from one bridging basestation to the other without traversing the main router (no activity lights).

The best thing I have found with these WBR-g54s is that there is a built in 4 port switch on each unit. So now I have lots of options to hook up wired products as well.

As an aside, I have been watching streaming shows on the downstairs RTV and at the same time setting up a new install of WinXP with about 80mb of updates downloaded via the same basestation (wired connection). Haven't yet experienced a single blip on the streamed show!
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post #8 of 703 Old 10-09-2003, 11:20 PM
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Sounds great... good range and good bandwidth and from the sound of it pretty easy to setup. One thing I'm still wondering about is each unit has it's own firewall right - are you able to disable the firewalls?
Thanks.

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post #9 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 06:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by fmaddin
So did you have to do anything special to set it up? Or was it just plug and play pretty much? I've read about some usability with the Buffalo. I would be interested in knowing how each is configured. I guess the one on the Replay is the only one in "bridge" mode?

What version of the firmware are you on? I'd read that earlier versions of the Buffalo were not working. But I realize that firmware changes all the time.

thanks,
frank
There is the usual browser-based configuration. The units come with some kind of software on CD, but I didn't even open the package. I basically plugged each unit in one at a time and configured over a wireless connection with my PowerBook. Pretty straightforward if you've done this with any other router (I had used Linksys products before). Every option has a little "?" next to it that pops up information if you need it. There are some rough edges, namely some random Japanese characters that show up on a few pages. Setting up WDS bridging is fairly straightforward if you keep a logical mindset. You have to enter in the wireless MAC addresses of the respective basestations that are to be bridged. Just like Linksys boxes, the wireless MAC address is only found on the browser-interface...only the WAN and LAN MAC addresses are labelled on the unit itself. All in all, fairly simple and extensive configuration.

FYI, all of my basestations are in WDS-bridging mode. BUT, this mode is not "bridging only" like with the Linksys models. This means that each basestation, in addition to acting as a wireless bridge for wired clients (like ReplayTV boxes), can also act as a wireless access point for wireless clients (like laptops and PDAs). This was the main selling point for me because it allows me to basically now have 4 wireless access points around the house providing a super blanket of coverage at the highest signal strength and data throughput. And as a bonus, each basestation has a 4-port switch so I can hook up other ethernet devices at my leisure (printers, network drives, etc).

I hope all this helps. I just can't contain my excitement!
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post #10 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 06:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by moyekj
Sounds great... good range and good bandwidth and from the sound of it pretty easy to setup. One thing I'm still wondering about is each unit has it's own firewall right - are you able to disable the firewalls?
Thanks.
I haven't examined the firewall settings yet. That will be next as I try to get IVS working on my 5040's.

As an addition to range issues, these units all have a plug for external antennas. I think it is an SMC connector. I know it is the same as the one on Lucent/Agere devices.
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post #11 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 06:47 AM
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If you have four of these thigns in a straight line equally apart from each other, will the second one recieve the signal from the first one, bring it's signal strenth up and send it to the third one and so on? Do these things work like burpers? If so, does that mean you can just set them all over the house and make a network 'cloud'? does it work liek that or am I way off?

If everything above is correct then I'm wondering if you move your laptop from one end of the house to the other, do you have to click on the systray and select a different wireless connection before you have internet again, or does it do that automatically.

I read alot of posts about bridges but never figure anything out.

cow
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post #12 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 07:11 AM
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I've read, and the PC Mag article notes, the "minimal feature set" of the Buffalo. But the review itself is pretty thin.

Any idea what they are talking about the Buffalo lacking that, say, Linksys has?

I d/l'ed the Buf user guide, but it is v1.0 dated 2/9/2003. So there could be some things missing from it.

BTW, PC Mag reports the _list_ price of this unit is $69 although the lowest price returned by their price engine is over $85. Their list price much be a mistake.

Finally, anyone run this thing in mixed b/g mode. The UG says it reverts to 11b speeds in mixed mode? Do all A/Ps do that?

Thanks!
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post #13 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 07:48 AM
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Just FYI: I have two Linksys WAP54G access points. One is connected to a router, the other to a switch. The one on the router is in Access Point mode, while the one on the switch is in bridge mode. They both talk to each other, AND I am able to use router access point with other wireless devices at the same time. I was told this would not be possible, but what can I say... it's working for me. I use it to sync my PDA wirelessly everyday.
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post #14 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 08:12 AM
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Quote:
Jgreemen wrote:
Finally, anyone run this thing in mixed b/g mode. The UG says it reverts to 11b speeds in mixed mode? Do all A/Ps do that?
Yep. The minute 802.11b is detected, the whole system slows down. Currently for all 802.11g devices. I guess they felt this was the way to help people transition off of b over to g.

Bob

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post #15 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 08:18 AM
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So, if I understand it correctly, I could get by with two then. I have 2 Replay 5040 units at opposite ends of the house (one in bedroom, one in living room) currently talking to my Linksys 54g router in the computer room via WET54G bridges. After finding out after-the-fact that streaming doesn't work for squat with this configuration, I was wondering if I could simply replace the bridges with these routers/access points and set them up to bridge to each other, yet talk to the router in an un-bridged AP configuration.

Will that work, or will I be stuck getting 3 of them and connecting the third to the router in the computer room?

I just cancelled my order for the Linksys WAP54g since going with a worse-case scenario of buying three Buff. Tech. units is significantly cheaper and gets me to what I need: streaming between my bedroom and livingroom.

Thanks!
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post #16 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 08:54 AM
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You most defiantly lose throughput when you are using a mixed environment. As a matter of fact, the self-proclaimed max throughput for both the 11b and 11g are much lower than the 11Mbps and 54Mbps respectively. In a perfect pure 11g environment, the maximum throughput is only 27Mbps! 11b moves along in a merger 6Mbps. When the two are mixed, 11g suffer greatly. If the environment has both types of clients, the 11g and 11b will talk at 9Mbps. If the environment is mixed but there are no 11b clients chatting away, the throughput for the 11g clients is 18Mbps.

If one must have a mixed environment but wants their 11g clients to maximize their bandwidth, one suggestion is to have two Access Points connected to the router. That way, one of the AP’s will be used only for 11b clients and the other for the 11g clients. All this info can be found HERE.

I’m somewhat interested in this new Buffalo solution. What I don’t fully understand is why not just set the Buffalo’s to Client Mode (if able) and not mess with the Bridge Mode stuff?

UPDATE: I just checked and it doesn't appear the they have a Client Mode according to their Data Sheet.
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post #17 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 09:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by icecow
If you have four of these thigns in a straight line equally apart from each other, will the second one recieve the signal from the first one, bring it's signal strenth up and send it to the third one and so on? Do these things work like burpers? If so, does that mean you can just set them all over the house and make a network 'cloud'? does it work liek that or am I way off?

If everything above is correct then I'm wondering if you move your laptop from one end of the house to the other, do you have to click on the systray and select a different wireless connection before you have internet again, or does it do that automatically.

I read alot of posts about bridges but never figure anything out.

cow
Generally speaking, you are correct. They are like repeaters (I think that's what you are calling "burpers"). And yes, you *could* string them up in a serial fashion and extend the network indefinitely. The problem lies in the fact that this consumer level stuff right now, like the WBR-G54, works off one radio per unit serving as both receiver and transmitter. The radio can't do both simultaneously and therefore repeating a signal cuts throughput in half with every "hop". A more typical pattern is a "star" pattern or "spokes on a wheel" with point to multipoint bridging.

Roaming between basestations should work just fine. Just set your client to whatever SSID you specify and it will associate with it automagically. For example, I specify the SSID for all of my basestations to be the same thing. On my laptop it appears that there is only one basestation and automatically roams to whichever has the strongest signal. Mind you, this on a Mac PowerBook, so YMMV.
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post #18 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 09:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by jrgreenman
I've read, and the PC Mag article notes, the "minimal feature set" of the Buffalo. But the review itself is pretty thin.

Any idea what they are talking about the Buffalo lacking that, say, Linksys has?

I d/l'ed the Buf user guide, but it is v1.0 dated 2/9/2003. So there could be some things missing from it.

BTW, PC Mag reports the _list_ price of this unit is $69 although the lowest price returned by their price engine is over $85. Their list price much be a mistake.

Finally, anyone run this thing in mixed b/g mode. The UG says it reverts to 11b speeds in mixed mode? Do all A/Ps do that?

Thanks!
I'm not sure what they are referring to as "minimal feature set". The WBR-g54 seems to have MOST bases covered. At least right now, it does EVERYTHING I want it to do, and I couldn't be happier. At $85 a pop, I figure in a year or two when new technology letting us do new things comes out, it won't be such a big deal to upgrade *again*.

Yeah, I saw the PC Mag $69 right after I placed my order at Dell.com for $85.99 and almost had a heart attack. But I, also, was not able to find anything less than the $85.99 price.

All 802.11g access points are backwards compatible with 802.11b. The sticking point is that any 802.11b presence requires the entire network to throttle down from 54mbit speeds to 11mbit, except for adhoc connections. The salvation is that this Buffalo unit (and probably others) can be set to "Turbo 54" mode and only accept connections from 802.11g clients (so 802.11b users can't connect)
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post #19 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 09:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by gatisimo
Just FYI: I have two Linksys WAP54G access points. One is connected to a router, the other to a switch. The one on the router is in Access Point mode, while the one on the switch is in bridge mode. They both talk to each other, AND I am able to use router access point with other wireless devices at the same time. I was told this would not be possible, but what can I say... it's working for me. I use it to sync my PDA wirelessly everyday.
Very interesting. I'll have to try this! I've got 3 bridged WAP54Gs right now, so I'll try and switch the central WAP54G by the router back to Access Point mode. Thanks for the info!

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post #20 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 09:52 AM
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I have another question actually...do I HAVE to use the Router feature of these units? As you can see from my prior post, I really only have one connection to the Internet via the wireless router in the computer room. I remember having problems with the Linksys when I purchased 3 of the 54g routers.
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post #21 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 09:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by phlegmer
I’m somewhat interested in this new Buffalo solution. What I don’t fully understand is why not just set the Buffalo’s to Client Mode (if able) and not mess with the Bridge Mode stuff?

UPDATE: I just checked and it doesn't appear the they have a Client Mode according to their Data Sheet.
Of course there is a "Client Mode". If you think about it, this is the same as bridging for only a single client. I think the confusing point here may be the fact that the WBR-G54 has a built-in 4 port switch, and the utility of this is to "bridge" two separate wired networks together. In other words, you hook whatever ethernet components you have into the back of this box, and then the entire box acts as a client of another access point.

Buffalo has two bridging modes. I think one is called something like shared bridging and the other is dedicacated bridging. Dedicated bridging basically makes the box into a bridge-only device so that it cannot also accept wireless clients simultaneously. This has the benefit of preserving throughput for the bridged (wired) devices.

Now to be fair, they do sell other products that are called bridging basestations (WLA-G54) and ethernet bridges, and it can all get confusing. But the funny thing is that these other products mostly all sell for $100 which is more expensive than what I consider to be an all-in-one solution in the WBR-G54.
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post #22 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 10:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by gatisimo
Just FYI: I have two Linksys WAP54G access points. One is connected to a router, the other to a switch. The one on the router is in Access Point mode, while the one on the switch is in bridge mode. They both talk to each other, AND I am able to use router access point with other wireless devices at the same time. I was told this would not be possible, but what can I say... it's working for me. I use it to sync my PDA wirelessly everyday.
Not too surprising...
Unless Linksys has recently changed something in new firmware, your wireless clients are accessing the WAP54G that you have hooked up to your router, not the one in bridge mode. Last time I checked (last week), the WAP54G could only be used in either AP-only mode or bridge-only mode.

But check your setup for us and definitely let us know if things are different than I have stated.
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post #23 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 10:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by whopharted
I have another question actually...do I HAVE to use the Router feature of these units? As you can see from my prior post, I really only have one connection to the Internet via the wireless router in the computer room. I remember having problems with the Linksys when I purchased 3 of the 54g routers.
No. The WBR-G54 could serve as your wireless router for your internet connection for sure, but if you want to use a second or third, etc unit in bridging mode all you have to do is turn off DHCP and voila! All you have left is a 4-port switch on a wireless bridge!
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post #24 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 10:53 AM
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<<EXCELLENT>> I'll just buy two then. Thanks for letting us know about this.
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post #25 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by jwtseng
Not too surprising...
Unless Linksys has recently changed something in new firmware, your wireless clients are accessing the WAP54G that you have hooked up to your router, not the one in bridge mode. Last time I checked (last week), the WAP54G could only be used in either AP-only mode or bridge-only mode.

But check your setup for us and definitely let us know if things are different than I have stated.
The surprising part is that apparently the other WAP54G set to bridge-only mode is able to bridge with the WAP54G by the router set to Access Point mode - the documentation leads you to believe this is not possible. I'll try it out tonight with my 3 WAP54G setup and post here.

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post #26 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 11:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by jwtseng
Of course there is a "Client Mode". If you think about it, this is the same as bridging for only a single client. I think the confusing point here may be the fact that the WBR-G54 has a built-in 4 port switch, and the utility of this is to "bridge" two separate wired networks together.
I agree, the terminology does get a little confusing. I had a d-link DWL-900+ AP connected to my 5040 for a while and it actually had a Bridge Mode and a Client Mode. Client Mode is what I used and it worked fine but I never really fully understood what the difference was. The d-link DWL-2000 AP that I currently use has these two features as well.
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post #27 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 01:00 PM
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Originally posted by Bobcrane
Yep. The minute 802.11b is detected, the whole system slows down. Currently for all 802.11g devices. I guess they felt this was the way to help people transition off of b over to g.

Bob
Is it possible to disable the b mode all together and only allow G users to connect?
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post #28 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 01:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally posted by watchintv
Is it possible to disable the b mode all together and only allow G users to connect?
The Buffalo WBR-G54 has this option to accept only 802.11g clients and prevent 802.11b clients from connecting. I'm not sure what other manufacturers do.
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post #29 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 01:13 PM
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Originally posted by jwtseng
I just bought 4 Buffalo Technologies Wireless Broadband Router Basestations (WBR-G54). I wanted to upgrade my home wireless network to 802.11g so that I could stream back and forth between my two new 5040's. Why did I buy four of these, you might be asking, especially if I am replacing just one Apple Airport 802.11b basestation? Well, the one nice feature of these WBR-G54's is that they have WDS-bridging capabilities. In addition, the bridging can be used simultaneously while serving other wireless and wired clients (unlike the Linksys boxes)! And the best part...they were only $85 each at Dell.com (compared with $249 for ONE Airport Extreme BS).
Just curious, is this with WEP or WPA on? If so, what level 64 bit 128 bit 256 bit?
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post #30 of 703 Old 10-10-2003, 02:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Nah, I left WEP/WPA off. Not important to me.
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