Setup Wireless Infrastructure Mode

The infrastructure mode requires the presence of an 802.11−compliant access point. An access point serves as the backbone of a wireless LAN as all the wireless LAN traffic goes through the AP.

In order to use a wireless LAN, you need to configure the APs and all the wireless adapters that will be using the wireless LAN operating in the LAN. A basic wireless LAN operating in infrastructure mode consists of the following components:

  • Wireless LAN access points.

Data in a wireless LAN operating in infrastructure mode is routed among the computers in a wireless LAN via an AP. Today, there are many different flavors of IEEE 802.11−compliant wireless LAN APs available on the market.

They differ in the standard they comply with—for example, 802.11a or 802.11b—and the type of additional networking features they may include.

For example, some wireless LAN APs come with built−in routers, roaming services, and the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP).

  • Wireless LAN adapters.

Each computer in a wireless LAN must be installed and configured to operate in the infrastructure mode.

It is a good idea to always set up wireless APs before installing computers with wireless LAN adapters. In this tutorial, we help you install a wireless LAN that operates in the IEEE 802.11 infrastructure mode using the Agere ORiNOCO RG−1000 Residential Gateway (AP) and ORiNOCO 802.11b PC Card.

Although we target ORiNOCO products when discussing the details of configuration options, we use a general approach that can be applied to most wireless fidelity (Wi−Fi) compliant devices.

Setting Up a Wireless LAN Access Point

Although you do have to carefully choose the physical location at the site where you intend to install a wireless LAN AP, a Wireless LAN AP is the easiest wireless LAN equipment to install.

Depending on the operating load of a wireless LAN and/or the physical nature of a deployment site, you may install one or more wireless LAN APs. Following are some of the most common AP installation configurations:

  • Single AP configuration. The wireless LAN consists of an AP and the wireless workstations associated with it.
  • Overlapping AP configuration. The wireless LAN consists of two or more adjacent APs whose coverage slightly overlaps.
  • The multiple AP configurations. The wireless LAN consists of several APs installed in the same location. This creates a common coverage area that increases aggregate throughput.

Many wireless LANs contain several of these configurations at different points in the system. The single AP configuration is the most basic, and the other configurations build upon it. In this section, we guide you through the steps necessary to install a wireless LAN AP using single AP configurations.

Verify the Wireless LAN AP Box Contents

Most APs come with the following items:

  • Access point. An access point is normally a self−contained box that usually comes with an antenna, a few network jacks on the back, and some status indicator lights in the front.
  • AC Power adapter. The adapter must conform to the electric outlet voltage available at the site. For example, in the United States, the most common electric power voltage is 110 volts. Using an incorrect voltage adapter could damage the AP and the adapter itself.
  • Manuals and software disks. Most APs come with a user manual and software disks. If a manual is missing, you should contact the manufacturer or their Web site to obtain the manuals.

The software disks may not be present if no software installation is required for configuring the AP. If disks are not present, consult the manual to ensure that you do not need any software to configure the AP.

  • Wall mount. Some wireless LAN adapters come with a wall mount panel for installation of the AP on a wall. If the mount is present and you wish to install it using the mount, or if the installation requires the use of the mount, you should consult the AP manual for the steps necessary to install the AP using the wall mount.
  • Ethernet cable. Typically, wireless LAN APs can be connected with a wired LAN or with other networking devices, for example a DSL modem. If your wireless LAN adapter supports such connectivity, then there should be an Ethernet cable.

If you do not find an Ethernet cable, you should check with the manual to see whether it is supposed to contain one. You can also purchase this cable from an electronics or computer store.

Write Down the Product Identification Information

Before you proceed, write down the following product information. You may need this information to contact your equipment manufacturer for technical support or warranty purposes:

  • Manufacturer. The name of the AP's manufacturer. For example, Agere Systems/ORiNOCO.
  • Model. The product model number as assigned by the manufacturer.
  • Serial numbers. A serial number uniquely identifying the product.
  • MAC addresses. MAC addresses uniquely identify a wireless LAN adapter.

Select Access Point Location

The performance of an indoor wireless LAN adapter is greatly affected by the placement of APs. Common factors that affect an AP's performance include physical obstacles, devices operating in the wireless LAN operating frequency, and the presence of heat sources.

This section describes various considerations to help you position the AP for optimum coverage and operation of the wireless LAN when performing an indoor, outdoor, or rooftop install

  • Check Electric Power Availability. Make sure that an electric outlet is available or can be provided at the locations where you want to install an AP.
  • Locate a Central and Highest Location in the Coverage. Area for AP Install the access point at least 1.5 meters above the floor, clear of any high office partitions or tall pieces of furniture in the coverage area.

The AP can be placed on a high shelf, or can be attached to the ceiling or a wall using a mounting bracket. Install the AP in a central location in the intended coverage area. Good positions include the center of a large room, center of a corridor, and the intersection of two corridors.

  • Look Out for Competing RF Devices. For best performance, make sure that devices operating within the wireless LAN coverage area do not emit the radio frequency used by the wireless LAN.

For example, if you are installing an 802.11b wireless LAN, position the units clear of radiation sources that emit in the 2.4−GHz frequency band, such as microwave ovens.

  • Heat Sources. Make sure that you select an AP location that is well away from sources of heat, such as radiators and air conditioners.

If you followed these instructions properly, you should have the best locations for your AP. The next step is to install the AP at the location you choose.

Understanding the Agere Systems ORiNOCO RG−1000 Residential Gateway

The Agere Systems ORiNOCO RG−1000 Residential Gateway is an IEEE 802.11b−compliant wireless LAN AP targeted for Home and SoHo users. The RG−1000 Internet Gateway acts as an access point to provide wireless LAN connectivity and Internet access via dial−up connections as well as an Ethernet port.

Designed for between one and ten users, the RG−1000 is the ideal Internet access solution for home and small office networks, enabling multiple stations to share a single Internet connection using Network Address Translation (NAT) and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) functionality.

Figure 1 shows the ORiNOCO RG−1000 product.

Following are some of the key features of RG−1000.

  • High performance 11 Mbps data rate
  • Wide coverage range of up to 1,750 ft/550 meters
  • IEEE 802.11b (Wi−Fi) certified
  • Windows 95/98/2000, Me, and Windows NT
  • High−level security with 64−bit key WEP encryption and access control table−based authentication

RG−1000 can be used in one of the following network operation modes. You should install and configure the AP to the mode that best suits your needs.

  • LAN bridge. RG−1000 can be used as a LAN bridge to connect wireless LAN devices to a wired LAN. RG−1000 documentation and configuration software refers to this mode as LAN infrastructure mode.

A wireless LAN set up this way relies on the DHCP services of the wired LAN, and the RG−1000 acts only as an intermediary between the computers in the wireless LAN and the wired LAN.

  • Standalone wireless LAN. RG−1000 can be used to simply interconnect wireless LAN computing devices with each other. A LAN configured this way does not communicate with any outside LAN, and data remains within the wireless LAN.
  • Internet gateway. RG−1000 can also be configured to act as a wireless LAN gateway to the Internet.

When configured as a wireless LAN gateway, RG−1000 does not allow computers in the wireless LAN to communicate with each other but it does allow computers in the LAN to share an Internet connection.

RG−1000 supports connectivity to the Internet via phone line or the RJ45 connector that can be used to attach it to a cable, DSL, or ADSL modem.

Install the Access Point

In this section, we install an AP to function in the infrastructure mode. Follow these steps to install the AP:

  1. Carefully choose the AP location by following the instruction in the preceding section, Select Access Point Location.
  1. Connect any network cables that you might need to connect to the AP. For example, if you are connecting the AP with a wired LAN, connect the AP with the wired LAN using an Ethernet LAN cable with the RJ45 network jack normally located on the back of the AP. You must always consult the AP manual before connecting a jack.
  1. Power up the AP using the power adapter.
  1. When you power up the AP, you should see some lights blinking. If you do not see any such activity, ensure that the power outlet is operational and the power adapter is properly plugged in to both the power outlet and the AP. If you still do not see any light indicators, you should stop here and contact the manufacturer.

Check Antenna Diversity

If your AP uses an external antenna (RG−1000 has internal antennas), make sure the antennas are fully exposed and extended upward vertically in relation to the floor. For models with external antennas, connect the external antennas and RF cable.

In most wireless LAN deployments, a single antenna is sufficient to ensure good performance levels. A phenomenon known as multipath propagation, which is caused by reflection of radio waves from potential reflectors, for example automobiles or metal furniture, can degrade wireless LAN performance.

In cases where multipath propagation exists, we recommend that an AP with two antennas be used. This takes advantage of space diversity capabilities.

By using two antennas per unit, the system can select the best antenna on a per−packet basis. If you are installing on a rooftop or wirelessly connecting two LANs between two buildings or physical sites, you should make sure that the line−of−sight between the antennas is free of any obstacles.

Configuring the Access Point

The access point must be configured before the wireless LAN can become operational. The method for configuring the AP differs from manufacturer to manufacturer. The following are some of the basic methods for configuring the AP.

Wirelessly Configuring an AP Using Vendor−Provided Software or a Web Browser.

Most APs are normally shipped in configuration mode. It is often possible to simply power up the AP and use a computer equipped with wireless LAN adapter to configure the AP.

The software that is used to configure the AP can be a Web browser, in which case the AP acts as a Web browser and lets you configure the AP parameters, or it could be special software that a vendor provides that helps you with the AP configuration steps.

For example, Agere Systems RG−1000 comes with an application program called RG Setup Utility, whereas NetGear MR410 AP (a competitor of RG−1000) can be configured using a Web browser.

It is important to remember that in order to wirelessly configure an AP, you must already have at least one wireless LAN adapter installed in one of your computers.

Configuring an AP Using a Wired LAN

An AP can be connected to a wired LAN during configuration if it does not support wireless configuration or if it is to be used as a wireless LAN bridge. Just like configuring an AP wirelessly, an AP can be configured using a Web browser or setup software that is provided by the AP vendor.

Important Wireless LAN AP Configuration Parameters

Most of the wireless LAN AP configuration parameters depend on the type of LAN you are interested in building. These parameters include the wireless LAN Service Set Identifier (SSID) or Network Name, security parameter settings, AP operation mode settings, and AP TCP/IP network settings that include the DNS and IP address settings.

Though APs from different manufacturers may use terminologies that may make these settings sound a little different, nonetheless they provide the same basic functions.

If you cannot completely understand the AP configuration parameters of the AP you are using, please consult the AP documentation that the manufacturer shipped with the AP or contact the manufacturer. Below is a brief explanation of the basic AP configuration parameters we just mentioned.

  • SSID or Network Name. Each AP in an IEEE 802.11 wireless LAN must be identified by an SSID or Network Name. The wireless LAN adapters use these SSIDs to identify the APs you want to connect them with.

The SSIDs are names, generally up to 32 characters long, that are assigned to each AP. Some APs, for example RG−1000, come with a predefined Network Name, and you must use the given name as SSID or Network Name when configuring the AP or a wireless LAN adapter to work with the AP.

Most APs that let you change the SSID do come with a default SSID, but it is not a good idea to use the default SSID, and you should always come up with a new SSID that is easy to remember and makes sense.

For example, if you are installing a total of four APs in a four−story building with each floor using one AP, you might want to call the AP on the first floor AP_FLOOR1, the one on the second floor AP_FLOOR2, and so on.

Alternatively, you should assign all APs the same SSID if you intend to provide roaming services to the individuals using the wireless LAN equipment. As a wireless LAN adapter travels from the range of one AP into another, it automatically joins the other AP when more than one AP is assigned the same SSID.

  • Security Settings. 802.11 standard supports Wireless Equivalent Privacy (WEP)−based security. WEP security allows all data communication between wireless LAN clients and/or APs in encrypted form.

You should decide whether you want to use the WEP encryption or not. If you decide to use the WEP encryption, you will need to distribute the WEP keys to all wireless LAN adapters.

Without WEP keys, wireless LAN adapters will not be able to communicate with the AP. In addition to the WEP security, most wireless LAN APs require a password to administer the AP.

Most APs come with a default password, for example the default AP password for RG−1000 is the same as the Network Name as preconfigured by the manufacturer.

  • AP operation mode settings. As mentioned earlier, you must decide how you want to use your AP. The operation mode of an AP differs from the AP itself.

For example, RG−1000 can be used to build a standalone wireless LAN as a wireless LAN gateway to the Internet, or to connect a wireless LAN to a wired LAN. It is important to remember that not all APs provide operating modes like those supported by RG−1000.

  • TCP/IP Settings. Each computer in a TCP/IP−based wireless LAN must have a unique IP address, must be configured with proper DNS servers, and, optionally, with a default gateway.

Client computer and AP configuration will differ for the IP address assignment, DNS settings, and default gateway configurations based on the way the AP will be used.

Most APs, for example RG−1000, come with DHCP functionality built−in and can assign IP addresses and other TCP/IP parameters to all wireless LAN adapters that successfully connect with them.

If the AP you are using does not support DHCP settings or if you are using the AP only as a bridge between the wireless LAN and the wired LAN, you may have to configure the TCP/IP parameters manually on individual wireless LAN computers and the AP.

RG−1000 is capable of assigning TCP/IP configuration parameters to all clients connecting to them. It is also able to obtain TCP/IP information from a DSL or cable modem when connecting a wireless LAN to the Internet.

Since we are using RG−1000 in our example, we will use the software that is provided by Agere Systems. Additionally, we will configure the RG−1000 wirelessly.

Since configuring the RG−1000 requires that you must previously have configured a wireless LAN adapter, let's go through the installation and configuration of a wireless LAN adapter and then we will finish configuring the RG−1000.

Next, let's we talk about Setup Wireless LAN Adapters.