Apple Tech Note on AirPort Express: Can’t be used as access point with older AirPort equipment

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
July 6th, 2004 • 11:28 pm

This new tech note posted by Apple answers one of the questions I had about the new AirPort Express product, which I might have been interested in:

Wireless Distribution System is another way for AirPort Express to join an existing Wi-Fi network. AirPort Express uses its Ethernet port and can offer its wireless access point in WDS mode, but it requires that your other access points be AirPort Extreme and/or AirPort Express. Client mode’s advantage is that you can join the networks of non-Apple access points and earlier AirPort base stations (“Dual Ethernet” and “Graphite” models).

This means that, unless your existing wireless network is pure AirPort Extreme (802.11g), you cannot use the AirPort Express as an access point, only as in “client mode”, i.e. as just another device accessing the existing wireless network (like a computer).

While my older wireless network doesn’t support WDS, I had hoped that I would be able to use the AirPort Express as another access point in a roaming network, by connecting its Ethernet port to my existing wired network that already has an AirPort Base Station (Graphite) elsewhere in the house. It would have replaced my second AirPort Base Station, that I used to have connected via Ethernet to my network in order to provide a second access point and extend the wireless range of my network in the house. As regular Betalogue readers know, I have been unable to get the roaming network thing to work reliably since upgrading to Panther.

I still believe that it’s a software issue that Apple needs to fix in its AirPort/Mac OS X 10.3 software, and I have sent enough extensive bug reports to them. But so far, it still isn’t working and I can’t use my laptop in half of my house… Bummer.

2 Responses to “Apple Tech Note on AirPort Express: Can’t be used as access point with older AirPort equipment”

  1. Pierre Igot says:

    Yes, it won’t work with a 802.11b network — i.e. a network consisting of one or more 802.11b base stations (connected to each other via Ethernet). Not entirely sure what it means if you have a 802.11g network (e.g. AirPort Extreme base stations) but also use 802.11b clients (computers) on that network, but I suspect it will work just fine, because the 802.11b equipment is just clients, not access points.

    But then, I have little experience with 802.11g myself, so I can’t guarantee 100% accuracy :).

  2. John Moltz says:

    So, to put this another way, it only bridges an 802.11g network, not an 802.11b network, right? That is good to know as I just bought a new house that I need to saturate with 802.11b. Looks like I need to go with a base station and an antenna.

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