Most range extenders offer one of two configuration methods. The first and by far the simplest uses WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup), which involves pressing physical buttons on the wireless access point and range extender in order to securely pair the two devices. WPS provides easy setup but offers limited configuration options without further tweaking. Power users are better served walking through the manual configuration method, which typically involves a fairly straightforward setup process:
- Connect your computer to the range extender using a wired or wireless interface.
- Access the configuration website by name or IP address.
- Configure the range extender to connect to your existing wireless network – preferably using both 2.4 and 5GHz connections.
- Set up a new SSID for both frequencies.
- Connect your wireless clients to the new range extender SSIDs.
The most difficult step in configuring your range extender is usually connecting to the configuration page, particularly after the device has been connected to your network and it pulls an IP address using DHCP. Most range extenders offer a method of connecting to your range extender without having to guess at the IP address. One of the most common methods used to provide access to your range extender configuration is using a DNS domain name (such as myrangeextender.com) that resolves only if your computer is connected to the range extender. Other devices use the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) standard, which allows your computer to recognize the range extender as a configurable wireless networking device. In some cases, you may have to look through your router’s DHCP client table, but you should consult your range extender’s documentation in order to determine the preferred method of accessing the configuration page.
It’s worth noting that a wireless range extender functions differently than an access point configured using Wireless Distribution System (WDS). WDS functions at a lower level – using the devices radios but not Wi-Fi – and is typically vendor-specific. Wireless range extenders use existing Wi-Fi networks, allowing them to support connection to any wireless access point that supports the proper bands.