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Individuals interested in setting up wireless capability for their home or office network may want to set up an access point to expand the range of the wireless signal. Setting up an access point for a simple home network can be quick and easy, but the process can become complicated for larger office networks. The basic process of setting up an access point includes ensuring that the wireless local area network (WLAN) is properly configured, determining the best placement for the access point, obtaining and assigning an IP address to the access point, mounting the device, configuring the access point, and testing the connection.
Procedures for setting up a WLAN are outside the scope of this article, but the process is a prerequisite for setting up an access point. Once the WLAN is configured, the installer should perform a site survey to determine the optimal placement for the access point. The best places to mount an access point are flat horizontal surfaces, suspended ceilings, and desktops. An access point uses a radio frequency instead of cabling to transmit information, so avoid placing the device near metal obstructions or microwave ovens. They can produce radio signal interference. Setting up an access point in a person’s workspace should also be avoided.
The access point needs an IP address. The installer can connect the access point directly to the wired LAN to accomplish this step. Another option is to assign an IP address using the access point’s media access control (MAC) address. There are other ways to obtain an IP address for the device. Manufacturers provide an installation guide that provides device-specific procedures.
After obtaining an IP address, the next step is to mount the device. Most access points are sold with mounting hardware. If the installer determines that the best place to mount the access point is on a wall or above a suspended ceiling, he or she may have to purchase additional mounting hardware.
Once the device is mounted, the installer should configure the access point and test the connection. Similar to the way a wireless router is configured, an access point is configured from a web-based interface. The installer enters the IP address of the access point to setup or change its settings, which may include network information, signal strengths and frequencies, security settings, and other options depending on the device. Once the installer sets the basic configuration, he or she should test the connection using a wireless-capable computer or other wireless device.