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So by reading this you are either thinking of buying the Linksys WRE54G or you have one and want to see what other people think of it.
I have a Linksys WAG200G home gateway which is a modem and wireless router in one. Within the extremes of my house and garden signal was poor and I investigated various options and came to the conclusion that the best one was to go for a range expander. Belkin have an offering but seeing that Linksys have one I went for it as everything else I have is Linksys (Router, Adapter, VOIP Phone, Wireless Storage). It was not the cheapest option but personally I prefer Linksys especially as it is basically Cisco hardware.
First of all, there are three versions, and you have to be careful because the 1st one is far inferior to the Version 2 (V2) and Version 3 (V3). V3 is the easiest one to identify, other than the fact that on the underside of the item it is clearly marked as a Version 3 it has an Ethernet cable socket on its top within the black strip which makes setup much easier. Also with it being the latest version the software is far more advanced. Before you ask, no, Version 3 software can not be run on Versions 1 & 2 and hence why you will find them on eBay for about £10. Version 2 should have V2 somewhere in or around the serial number (S/N) on the underside of the range expander. Otherwise it is identical to the first incarnation of this product. I strongly advise you search for a V3 if you have the time and money, some shops will charge you prices in the region of £55 for the V2 when a trip to PC World will get you the latest version for the same money.
So once I had waited 3 months to find a cheap V3 (thank you eBay!!) I got the package and in it got the range expander, network cable (rj45), two power cords (called power plates), one that slots into the back of the expander and then straight into the power socket, and one which slots into the expander and had about 1.5 meters of cord. Beyond this you get the instructions and installation CD. So, it all seemed relatively simple.
Before I begin, there is an auto config button on the side of the range expander. You simply hold the button down for a few seconds and the device will automatically find your network and hey presto. Well only if you have a simple network with little or no security. Below like most, is the out come if you have MAC filtering, WEP security and a disabled SSID broadcast (all the tech terms are explained as you read on!!)
First attempt at installing resulted in the expander not being found. Second time and the same result. Third time and again no expander was found and nor was my router. So I called Linksys technical support on 0800 026 1418 for free and went through my problems with the advisor in their Philippines call centre. The support is 24/7 and I was calling at 23:45 UK time.
So we went through the installation process as follows:
Enable SSID (broadcasts your wireless routers name) Disable security Ping the router (it sends a small amount of information to the router to see if the computer can communicate with it) Connect the expander via the Ethernet cable to the router to set it up, if not you can connect it to a PC.
This all worked as much as I could ping the router and expander but when it came to installing the range expander it still didn't work. Following all of this I thanked them and said I will approach it with a fresh mind in the morning. They gave me a case number if I needed to call back. Next morning I tried again and it did not work. Then I realised why and something that the people at Linksys did not mention. Wireless routers have a method of allowing only certain devices to collect to them by filtering the MAC address (a unique address given to all wireless hardware) that can connect, because I hadn't added the MAC address of the range expander I had prevented this happening. Another call to Linksys to check this and they agreed and said they would add this to their catalogue of trouble shooting guides for future reference! With the help of the guy I did the installation and got everything up and working. I will not say it was massively easy because it wasn't, but once done you realise it is not as complicated as previously thought. As you will see below there are various forums and documents to help with Default gateways etc!
If you have successfully installed your range expander and you are getting an IP conflict error, try turning off the range expander, then the router. Wait about 2 minutes and then turn on the router followed by the WRE54G and this should fix the error.
Now that I have the range expander installed on my wireless network I have my whole house and garden covered, and with everything running on ad-hoc network setup (this allows laptops etc to connect to more than one router / range expander so you can move around the house to have seamless connection, as the range on the router runs out, the range expander kicks in) I can walk around the house and garden going into areas where previously I lost signal. Linksys advise you on where in the house to position your hardware to get optimal signal, but don't look at the paper material you get, the more in-depth information is on the CD within the user guide.
The WRE54G looks good, and has a very solid feel in the hand. It feels like something worth the money you pay. It has two LED's on the front, both shine blue when connected, the top one shines red when there is no signal from the router.
Am I happy I got it? Yes definitely! Will I get over the installation process? I hope so!!
The advise I would give is, if you are struggling, step back and patiently look at all the settings, I didn't and hence why it was such an ordeal. If you still have troubles look to online forums by typing WRE54G installation problems in Google, or by going to www.forums.linksys.com. If all else false, call them, it is free and there is always someone there to answer your call.
For further information see the Linksys website where you can get information on the WRE54G including comprehensive guides and device specifications.
There is a lot of information and I hope this helps!
Pictures of Linksys Wireless-G Range Expander WRE54G