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Recommend 802.11b access point?

So who can recommend a solid 802.11b access point? 802.11g is fine, provided it works happily with 11b. I'd also like to hear from people who run VPN over the wireless connection.

My current AP is four years old, end-of-lifed, and flaky - I can't hold a VPN connection through it for more than a few minutes. :/

(note: access points, not routers - this is for internal extension)


Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I just put a Linksys WAP11 into the mix at my house.  A router/AP resides on one side of the house and a WAP11 sits at the other (connected by a run of cat5e).  I have no problems setting up and maintaining a VPN connection through the AP.  Running for 1 week with no problems.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I own a US Robotics USR 8022  combined access point & Router.

I would not buy it again because it freezes once every few weeks, requiring a reboot. The latest firmware made it even worse.

Jan Derk
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I use the netgear MR814, which is 802.11b.  For the most part it works fine.  Up time typically is several months.  However, I do have trouble applying the firmware upgrades.  Only some upgrades have worked, therefore I rarely upgrade the firmware.  My original motivation was to not be an NTP pig - which the netgear is noted for.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I have the Linksys WPC54G, and since the fall I've been so confident in the quality of the connection that I've even been putting my firmware updates on over the air.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I'm a big fan of the D-Link stuff.  Works great, never had a problem, and most of their stuff is designed to work with standard 802.11b/g/whatever, but will go twice as fast when combined with other D-Link stuff.  It's hard not to love a 104Mbps wireless connection.

Emperor Norton
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I am using a complete D-Link setup (AP - PCI card - PCMCIA card) and it has a nice little feature of quadrupling the throughput if all components are matching.  I have not had much trouble with signal drops.  I also bought all the pieces when they had a very nice rebate going, so I paid only about half the normal price for the whole thing.

When I take my laptop over to a friend's place (he's using a Netgear AP), it seems to drop out and back in every 15 minutes or so.

Not sure how the Linksys compares with D-Link, but I'm not impressed with the Netgear at all.

Clay Whipkey
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Maybe that was just doubling the throughput, not quadrupling.

Clay Whipkey
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I recently replaced my Linksys 802.11b router/access point with their 802.11g router/access point and they have both worked flawlessly for me. Highly recommended.


Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I have no recommendations.

I just hate the fact that I can't find a simple 4-port hub/switch at my local (anything, including Fry's) computer store anymore.  I CAN find a 4-port 10/100+Wireless-B router for $50, but since they're all so flaky, I would actually rather buy something with less features, that is presumably more solid.  Most stores (read: the two I visited) DO actually offer 4-port 10/100 switches, for the low, low price of $40-$45.  Or Fry's runs a $40 special for a 16-port hub.  Ich.

Backtrack a year, and you could ALWAYS find a hub/switch for under $20, often $10 or less.  But I didn't need one then, so I didn't get one.

I hate wireless networking in general, and now I have a new reason to hate it: it's killing the commercial market for wired (10/100) networking, which I do happen to like.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I have a Netgear DG824M, which includes an ADSL modem. It's a great product -- reliable and easy to set up. The reliability really is great -- I've had it up for several months at a time and never experienced a crash.

On the strength of it, I recommended a friend get a Netgear MR814 access point and their MA521 wireless card -- and they haven't had any problems either.

C Rose
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I had a Belkin wireless router and a Belkin USB receiver. I was rather unhappy when I was getting only about a 10-15% signal strength at the opposite end of my house.

From the router to my daughter's room is about 35-40 feet and upstairs so there's a ceiling and a wall to go through. But still, the signal strength was unacceptably low for less than 40 feet considering there's no metal between them.

Then I picked up a Netgear receiver and got a signal level of over 50% at the same location, so I guess the Belkin router is OK but I'd stay away from Belkin on the PC end.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Philo, use the Microsoft one -- $50 at the company store, and very good UI engineering. I've been using it for a few months happily.

(yes, ex-microsoft employees are allowed to shop at the company store).

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I have a D-Link DWL-900AP+ that's been in use for just over a year, and I don't think I've given it a second thought in about that same amount of time.  I don't VPN through it, though.

Sam Livingston-Gray
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Speaking of b or g, I have a Belkin b/g router and a laptop with b/g (originally 54g, but flashed to the official 802.11g) - when the connection monitor claims 48Mbps, actual connection speed tests (simply copying a large file between machines and measuring the duration. As an aside, the test when both machines are wired yields connection saturation -- it is not local I/O limits on either end) indicate that real throughput is dramatically less. This is an issue when you're browsing a folder of 5MP images, or trying to play a video file from another machine.

Am I alone in this observation? Are my bits being bitnapped en route?

Dennis Forbes
Wednesday, April 14, 2004


It's a fault of the protocols.  There is a lot of overhead to get the data through the pipe.  For example, back in the days of 11b, the maximum throughput was 11mbps, however, when you tack on the fact that the protocol implementation needs 5 mbps per 6 sent, you quickly see that you can't achieve any better that 6mbps.

Now that number is for a _really_ good implementation.  Back in the day this meant the Aironet and Proxim radios.  Start degrading your signal quality, and now you're getting a lot of dropped packets that need retransmittal.  Add in the "slow-start" feature of TCP, and you just really killed your Bandwidth.

Conclusion, when you're sending a lot of bits through the pipe, you're first limited by the protocol, second limited by dropped packets, and then really nailed by the TCP stack.  All in all, large file transfers will leave you wondering why you chose wireless in the first place.

(For comparison sake, I believe the maximum throughput for the turbo 11g's of late is around 22mpbs, on a perfect link.)

*TCP Slow Start works as follows for those unaware: Once a packet is dropped it halves your maximum present connection speed (let's say we start at the mentioned 6mbps, so now we're at a maximum of 3), then drops the connection speed to 0, and starts exponentially increasing speed to the new maximum.  Once the new maximum (3) is reached, it will linearly increase speed until another packet is dropped, at which point the process repeats.  The problem with TCP over wireless links is that when a packet is dropped, the Access Point should try to send harder and faster to try and overcome the obstruction or attenuation that caused the dropped packet.  This is counter to the operation of TCP.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

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