A Great WiFi Range Extender Solution. Netgear WN3500RP Dual Band Wifi Extender with FastLane Technology and Apple Airplay - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 03-07-2013, 03:35 PM - Thread Starter
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The Wifi Range Extension Problem

Extending wifi coverage throughout your home is always a bit of a difficult trade off. As a rule in the past the best way to extend wifi coverage was to install multiple access points throughout your home all of which need be connected via a wired Ethernet connection. This approach allows the most seamless coverage but comes with a cost. That cost is complexity of setup and configuration and the requirement of having a wired Ethernet infrastructure throughout your home. Up until now this approach was best for performance as your wireless connections to the main router were done through the Ethernet cable and that let your wireless network solely support your mobile wireless devices.

There have been many wireless range extenders on the market for some time now. The problem with them all has been their wireless performance was sub par compared to that of your main wireless router or an access point. The reason for the performance hit is that in all cases the wireless extenders were single band devices that had to share their limited bandwidth with the wireless network they were extending and the devices they were connecting to. This solution would be fine for basic web browsing but any media related task would generally always have stuttering or other network constraint issue.

A new solution to the range extension problem

Netgear recently began shipping the Netgear WN3500RP Universal Dual Band Wifi Extender with Apple Airplay. What is very unique in this solution is that while it is dual band, meaning it supports simultaneous 2.4 ghz and 5.0 ghz it possesses a great many ways of using it's dual band radios. Generally the wifi extenders link to your existing wireless network and if placed somewhere within clear range of your main router will allow you to get extended wifi coverage. But as I stated earlier this approach come with a performance cost as the radio must share its limited bandwidth with the devices connecting to it and the wireless router it is connecting to.

Netgear solved this performance issue by allowing 3 different ways of configuring the WN3500RP dual radios. The 1st mode is the standard range extension as stated earlier. You connect to an existing wireless signal and repeat it. Being dual band you can connect to both the 2.4 and 5 ghz sides of your router. Or if you have multiple routers they can be split amongst 2 different devices. This in its own is a nice approach for range extension but in and of itself doesnt solve the performance issue. These next 2 setup options do though.

Configuration option 2 and 3 allow you to select the newly developed FastLane Technology. Fastlane is an ingenious approach to fully utilizing the dual band technologies most of today's routers employ. Fastlane allows you to select one of the extenders radios to communicate directly with your router while using the other band to connect to your devices. This eliminates the bottleneck that previous range extenders have all experienced. This approach is extremely clever as it allows you to fully utilize all that extra wireless bandwidth with dual band devices that often sits idle. A brilliant solution in my opinion.

You have in the setup up to choose which band connects to the router and which is used for devices. This is an important distinction since the range of 2.4ghz is greater then that of the 5 ghz band. By choosing where you wish to place the device and where you need coverage you can select the best option. In my case I have a 3000 sq ft range style home. My main router sits under my desk at one end of the home. My devices (ipads, laptops etc) can see the 2.4 ghz band with middling signal strength at my far end of the house which is my living room but the 5 ghz side is very low and not reliable. I configured the WN3500RP to connect to my router with the 2.4 ghz side and use the 5ghz side for my device connection. I placed the WN3500RP in my kitchen which is aabout midway in my house. This worked fantastically well as I was easily able to stream video and audio to my devices with no issues. While I have an access-point of the far end of my home (yes I ran the Ethernet cable) I disconnected it and used the WN3500RP in its place. Performance wise it was fine. I actually was stunned how well it worked.

For non wireless devices the WN3500RP also has an Ethernet port that allows you to cob=nnecta wired device directly to it so that you can gain access to your wireless network. Just plug it in and you are good to go.


Apple Airplay and Printing Support



This is the 1st wireless range extender that comes without tradeoffs. Or without many. In addition to the stellar operation the WN3500RP also has 2 other key features one of which was near and dear to me. That is Apple Airplay support. The Airplay support is like that of the Apple Airport Express devices. It supports a mini 3.5 mm stereo jack where you plug into it a compatible cable and connect it to the audio device of your choosing. It is audio only. Not video. Again it works exactly like Apple's Airport devices. There is no configuration needed. Plug the cable in and it shows up on your IOS devices like any Airplay Device. And it works just as well at least in my brief testing with it.

According to the documentation the WN3500RP also supports music playback from Windows Media Player and Android devices with use of the Netgear Genie software which I did not try. I was looking for an Airplay device to connect to my Sonos in my kitchen and the WN3500RP did the trick.

The WN3500RP also supports printer sharing with a USB based printer. I didnt test this functionality but I suspect it will operate similarly to other Netgear printer sharing products like they have on the majority of their routers today.


User Interface and Setup


The UI of the WN3500RP is similar to that of other newer Netgear products. You connect to the 3500 via a wifi device and it walks you through the setup. It is relatively straight forward. The one minor issue is you will want to do a firmware update immediately as several of the enhancements are in this new firmware. Once complete the setup was straight forward. I played around with the 3 setup options and settled on the best configuration for my home.

The hardware itself is flexible. It comes with a wall plug to use directly in an outlet or you can stand it up solo and includes a 6 foot power cord.


Summary


The Netgear WN3500RP is the best and most flexible extender I have had the opportunity to use. With is flexible configuration and added capabilities I cant see how you can go wrong here. It sells for $99 and has a tremendous bang for the buck. I highly recommend it.

For more information check out Netgear site at http://www.netgear.com/home/products/wireless-range-extenders/WN3500RP.aspx#

Bob Silver
Netgear AV Consultant
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post #2 of 8 Old 03-07-2013, 03:51 PM
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I picked one of these up recently and it is working fine. As for being walked through the setup, it was more like a slow crawl. I tried following the instructions for a long time and had to call technical support. If you happen to need technical support with this product, pray that it is within the first 90 days. After that, you have to pay for it. It does work with wireless printer sharing.

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post #3 of 8 Old 03-12-2013, 11:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctego View Post

I picked one of these up recently and it is working fine. As for being walked through the setup, it was more like a slow crawl. I tried following the instructions for a long time and had to call technical support. If you happen to need technical support with this product, pray that it is within the first 90 days. After that, you have to pay for it. It does work with wireless printer sharing.

What were the setup issues you had? Was this before or after the firmware update?

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post #4 of 8 Old 03-12-2013, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobsilver View Post

What were the setup issues you had? Was this before or after the firmware update?

Bob Silver

I don't know whether it was before or after a firmware update. My issues were with the extender connecting to my network. When I called technical support, they had me change a bunch of settings. I had forgotten about this but a previous Netgear technician had disabled my 5 ghz network and just had me use the 2.4 ghz network. Part of my frustration with setting up the extender was that, after some time, I was only able to connect to the 2.4 ghz network. It wasn't until I was on with the technician that I figured out why. The most frustrating part of the setup was that it would connect to my network and then the red light would come on. I kept moving the extender closer and closer until they were right next to each other and the issue will still happening.

It's all working now since the technician had me change the settings.

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post #5 of 8 Old 05-18-2013, 04:15 PM
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I bought this wifi extender but I am seeing some issues :

1. I have two new wifi networks - mywifiname_2GEXT and mywifiname_5GEXT. Can I just have one single broadcast wifiname?

2. My work laptops when they are connected to my main wifi network i.e directly talking to my wifi router I am not able to get a dhcp address. Hence I am unable to get onto the internet. It;s the same with wifi_ext netwroks as well. If I reboot my router, cable modem and wifi ext then it works fine. Once I get back from my office it again runs into the same issue.

It seems my laptop is enable to seamlessly move between wifi networks. Any suggestions?
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post #6 of 8 Old 05-18-2013, 04:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by dudevt View Post

I bought this wifi extender but I am seeing some issues :

1. I have two new wifi networks - mywifiname_2GEXT and mywifiname_5GEXT. Can I just have one single broadcast wifiname?

2. My work laptops when they are connected to my main wifi network i.e directly talking to my wifi router I am not able to get a dhcp address. Hence I am unable to get onto the internet. It;s the same with wifi_ext netwroks as well. If I reboot my router, cable modem and wifi ext then it works fine. Once I get back from my office it again runs into the same issue.

It seems my laptop is enable to seamlessly move between wifi networks. Any suggestions?

First off the reason there are 2 networks listed is 1 is the 2.4 ghz network and the other is the 5 ghz network. They cannot be the same. Do you have a dual band wireless router now? If so and both the 2.4 and 5 ghz nets are on you should see two nets as well.

Regarding your laptop it seems that your laptop is not releasing it's ip address from you you come home from work. Have you tried rebooting the laptop instead of your network? By chance is your SSID the same at work as your home? If it is it will think it is on the same net and not release and renew the ip address. Instead of rebooting the laptop you can try and turn wifi off the from the laptop and then back on after waiting 30 seconds or so. But a reboot of the pc is best.

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post #7 of 8 Old 09-03-2013, 06:20 AM
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I have a question about this product specifically, but other extenders in general: does this create a "second network"? I ask because this always works poorly while having to bounce back and forth between the router and this device...especially when playing back music. I want to put one on the lower level of my home for playing music in the yard but again, my understanding is that two MAC addresses will be used and that will be a nuisance in my application.

thanks!

James

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post #8 of 8 Old 09-03-2013, 11:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mastermaybe View Post

I have a question about this product specifically, but other extenders in general: does this create a "second network"? I ask because this always works poorly while having to bounce back and forth between the router and this device...especially when playing back music. I want to put one on the lower level of my home for playing music in the yard but again, my understanding is that two MAC addresses will be used and that will be a nuisance in my application.

thanks!

James

James,

Traditionally extenders do create a second network. Netgear devices clone the SSID and add an _ext to the name. This is done to prevent interference since wifi extenders ride on the existing wifi signal and then retransmit the data through another wifi SSID. If you were to change the SSID to match your main network you may find that this works. But then again it may create interference and other problems like having your devices have trouble connecting or dropping off the network. It is worth a try though. You can always change back if it creates issues.

Given you need for an outdoor network you could make this arrangement work well. I use the WN3500RP repeater in my second home where I do not get great reception upstairs in the bedroom. I placed the repeater there and switch my phone to that network when I am on the second floor. I also use the Airplay function there which is terrific.


Another approach though is to use an access point. This can be a dedicated access point or a router properly configured as an access point by turning off DHCP, setting the SSID to the same as the main wifi network and ensuring the channels are set apart so they do not conflict with each other. This also requires a hard wire to connect the access point to your existing ethernet network. This can be handled by powerline or wire. By doing this you can create a seamless wireless environment but it comes with greater complexity and or cost.

Bob Silver
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