Extending The Network

February 2020

by Richard Lee

In this blog we look at some of the options available to extend the network.

There are a number of options available to extend the network.

Some reasons to extend may include:

- growing business adding new functionality / employees

- greater flexibility to access the network

- upgrade of computers that may now have wireless access

- new work requirements that are project based

- implement internet redundancy

Primarily we'll be looking at using:

⦁ wireless router - used to connect a network to an external network which may be the internet. Also known as internet modem/router.

⦁ wireless access point - allows wireless clients to connect to the network.

⦁ more powerful wireless modem/router

⦁ powerline - a way of extending the network using the AC powerlines in a building to

transmit data without need to lay new cabling

The following symbols are used in this blog:

[ R ] - router

{ S } - switch

| WRL | - wireless ADSL/NBN router

< LANPC > - cluster of computers

+ P + - powerline

# WP # - wireless access point

= PC = - computer

---------- Cat 5 UTP cable

| Cat 5 UTP Cable

- - - - - proposed Cat 5 UTP Cable

" " " " " wireless connection

_____ phone line connection to ISP

WWW connection to internet

Suppose for a network that comprises:

| WRL |------{ S1 }



= PC1 =

devices are located on the same floor of a building

We want to extend the network so that a PC can access the network on the secod floor.

One option is to lay in new Cat 5 UTP cable. The other option is to use powerline + P +. Powerline allows data to be chanelled through the AC power lines that are going through an entire building without the need for any new cables.

A second option is to connect another router to S1 as follows:

| WRL |------{ S1 }- - - - - - -

| |

| |

= PC1 = [ R1 ]- - - - = PC2 =

Now PC2 can connect back to our network via router R1.

Suppose that PC2 was a laptop computer instead with WiFi capability.

Now instead of using R1 we could use either a wireless acess point # WP #

or a wireless ADSL/NBN router | WRL |

Our diagram becomes:

| WRL |--------{ S1 }- - - - - - - -

| |

| |

= PC1 = # WP # " " " " " " = PC2 =

Or replace # WP # with | WRL | as an alternative although using a Router would only be necessary if we're trying to create a new network altogether.

In general wireless access is typically restricted to around 10 to 15 metres of practical access. Actual distances depends on a number of factors that include:

- signal strength of the wireless device

- distance from workstation (PC ) to the wireless acess point

- obstructions that may interfere with signal transimission

- wireless frequency whether 2.4 or 5GHz

- selected channel

How can we boost wireless access point transmission? There are a number of options available:

- upgrade the firmware of your existing wireless router

- connect another wireless router for added range

- replace existing wireless router with more powerful unit

- connect a Wireless Access Point to the network

- connect a Range Extender device

- change wireless channel to avoid interference

UTP 5 cables are the the network standard for wired LAN connections. Usually blue in colour, these cables are typically restricted to 100 metres range. What if we need to go beyond that distance?

WWW______| WRL |--------{ S1 }


| distance 80m

/ | \

=PC1= =PC2= =PC3=

In the above diagram, say we wanted to extend the range from the PCs from 80m to 150m. A simple solution would be to add switch S2 between the PCs and S1:

WWW______| WRL |----------{ S1 }


| distance 80m

{ S2 }

/ | \ distance 70m

=PC1= =PC2= =PC3=

S2 would effectively boost the signal that originating from WRL and being sent through S1. Connecting one switch onto another is known as Cascading.

Switches can be used not only to extend the network but to create redundancy. For instance if it was essential that a given organisation always have internet on at all working times, one could set up a network using redundant Wireless ADSL/NBN router. Of course this would necessarily entail paying for two separate lines to access the internet. In order to guard against any downtime caused by an issue from an ISP, WRL1 would be served through ISP1 and WRL2 would be served through ISP2. This would dramatically reduce (but not eliminate) any likelihood of internet downtime.

The following diagram shows how this could be implemented:

WWW_____ | WRL1 |---------{ S1 }---------< LANPC >


| distance 80m

{ S2 }---------| WRL 2 |_______WWW

/ | \ distance 70m

= PC1= =PC2= =PC3=

Lets consider for a moment that internet through WRL1 is down. Those PCs in LANPC

network can no longer get their IP address from WRL1. Instead they can get their IP address from WRL2 which now gives them the updated Gateway IP address (that of WRL2). All computers on the network can still continue to access the internet so long as WRL 2 has active internet access.

Next month I look at what options are available to extend the network beyond the office.

ie how can we access corporate data from outside the office or extend the head office to a branch office.

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