Help with Airport Express/WiFi

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weatherman

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I got an airport express to expand my sisters wireless network and to give her airplay capability. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be extending the network (still get 2/3 signal right next to Airport Express) and the music stutters as a result (?). Since she's using an iPhone 5 I'd like to get her phone to use the 5ghz signal from the AE, but it seems like its locked on to the main signal from the other router. Anyone know how to force the phone to access the 5ghz signal?

On my home router (non apple) I have two networks, one 2.4 and the other 5 ghz, each with their own ssid. That doesn't seem to be how the AE works, right? Or is there a way to set up an SSID for the 5ghz?

Also, anyone have any recommendations about improving signal strength / performance in this kind of setup, with one non-apple router, an AE as an "extender" and an iPhone playing Pandora, streamed music etc?
 

rockmyplimsoul

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I can give you some thoughts on this, but I'll admit I'm not as strong as I'd like in this area ...

1- Not all AirPort Expresses support 5 GHz. The current version introduced in 2012 does, but prior to that if offered only 2.4 GHz channels for 802.11n. If you have the one that has a power cord and looks like a "white Apple TV", then it supports 5 GHz. But if you bought the older model that is a module that plugs directly into your wall outlet then it does not.

2- Even if your AirPort Express supports 5 GHz, since you're using this to extend an existing network then 5 GHz won't be available unless the main router itself has 5 GHz 802.11n channels.

3- As above, you can't add a separate SSID for 5 GHz unless there is 5 GHz support from the main router. If the main router does support 5 GHz, then it is up to that router to set up two separate SSIDs and (hopefully) the AirPort Express can be used to boost one or both SSIDs. I know that the AirPort Extreme can be set to provide separate SSIDs, but I don't know if the AirPort Express can be set up to extend dual-SSIDs.

4- Even if the main router does support 5 GHz, (a) it has to be enabled, and (b) if it is not an Apple router then an AirPort Express may not play nice with it -- I suspect that there are enough variables in this technology such that compatibility can be a problem across different manufacturers, even though there are standards in place.

5- The iPhone 5 has been reported as having trouble with Wi-Fi. Maybe not across the board, but there are enough complaints about this specific model (and iPad mini) which could point to a weak design, component variability, or software glitches. The receent 6.0.2 iOS release was supposed to address this, but there seem to be some lingering complaints (but those could be the "typical" level of consumer noise). If your sister has not updated her iPhone 5 to 6.0.2 then perhaps she should try that.
 

weatherman

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Thanks for the comprehensive reply - after doing a lot of research yesterday I suspect it's the other router that's the problem. I dont think its 5ghzm thought the AE is the new one with 5ghz. but the main problem seems to be that the AE only extends the network if its another Airport. I think I'll just get my sister another AE and have her use that as her primary router. That should work, right? She wouldn't need an Airport Exteme, right?
 

rockmyplimsoul

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No need for an Extreme, if you use an Express as the main router you can use another Express to extend the network. The only downside I can think of is that an Express only has one Ethernet port, so if she's using multiple Ethernet connections to her existing router then you'll need a hub to expand the Express' wired connections.
 

weatherman

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Perfect - thanks Rock. She's fine with one Ethernet so it sounds like another AE will do just fine.
 
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