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Windows 7: Connect to 2 wireless networks simultaneously

15 Oct 2013   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
Connect to 2 wireless networks simultaneously

Hi everyone,

I searched the forum for similar topics but couldn't find an exact fit. If I missed some threads please point me into the right direction.

Following setup. For several reasons I have two Netgear routers. One is a router modem, is connected to the internet and creates wireless network 1. The other router sets up wireless network 2 sharing NAS etc. and is not connected to the internet.

The aim is to setup my Win7 laptop in such a way that I can simultaneously connect to both networks. The IPs of the routes and the NAS etc. are already set up separately. So there is no clash in IP numbers. Currently I have to manually switch in the network setting of Win7 to which wireless network I want to be connected.

Is there a way to stay connected to both?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Oct 2013   #2

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)

Why do you need two networks, wireless or otherwise? As long as you can get to all the devices you want, and as long as all devices can see each other and get to the Internet if desired, your best and simplest arrangement is to have just one network.

The first modem/router you describe sounds like a phone system device, perhaps from Verizon or AT&T. It should really be re-configured to run in "bridged" mode, meaning it becomes ONLY A MODEM with its router functions (wired and wireless) disabled.

Then, the probably one LAN ethernet output jack from that first modem/router goes to the WAN input port on your second Netgear router... which is really the device you want to use to support all wired/wirelss devices in your LAN.

The "bridged (modem-only) mode" of the first router facilitates connection to the Internet of your second Netgear router. In other words it's as if your second Netgear router were a combination modem/router... except that the modem portion is being "utilized" from the first Netgear router. And all router functions (both wired and wireless) are allocated only to the second Netgear router, being disabled entirely in the first Netgear box.

So your second Netgear router will actually be the device which sees your ISP's DHCP server and is assigned an Internet IP address. The first modem/router running in "bridged" mode will be completely removed from the diagram, and will not even have a visible IP address to either your ISP or your second Netgear router.

That would be my suggestion. Having two routers makes all devices "behind the firewall" of the second router invisible to the first router, greatly complicating your life.

Again, if you have your own true second Netgear wired/wireless router, the proper network configuration is to use it for all of your wired/wireless needs... disabling the router functions from the first box, and using only the modem functions of the first box to give Internet access to your second router.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Oct 2013   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

Hi Dsperber,

Thanks for your detailed reply. I fully agree with you and the setup you described is what I tried to resolve for more than two weeks. The problem was that the internet connection had significant drop outs. Some times over 30-40min. When I went back to the old setup the connection is fine. I set up a constant ping and recorded the ping error messages for both setups and the difference is huge. That's why we are currently back to two seperate networks...

Setup was as followed:

N150 (wireless disabled) directly connected to internet with the settings recommended by our provider (I'm in Australia). This setup was used for quite some time successfully.

From any port of the N150 directly into the internet port on the N4500. Wireless on.

As said above I get an internet connection bridging through the N150 to the N4500 but it drops out very often and in most cases for several minutes.

Are there additional settings in the N150 which I should pay attention to? Or any other major things I missed?

Thanks for you help.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

15 Oct 2013   #4

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)

I'm puzzled.

You said you had one "modem/router". To me, that is something like the Motorola (now Arris) SBG6580, which is truly a combination (a) modem which connects via a RF coax connector on the box to my cable company which is my ISP, and (b) 4-port wired/wireless router providing 4 RJ-45 ethernet connectors on the box. My Time Warner Cable ISP requires that if I own my own modem/router (which I do, to avoid paying monthly rental to them for their equipment) it must be a DOCSIS 3.0-compatible modem, and the SBG6580 is just such a device which also provides 4-port wired/wireless router capability. It connect to Time Warner Cable via coax on the device's RF coax connector.

In fact, the Netgear N150 as well as the Netgear N4500 you mention are BOTH wired/wireless routers. They both have an ethernet WAN port as well as for RJ-45 ethernet LAN ports. Neither of them connects directly to the Internet, and neither of them includes any modem capability. Neither possesses an RF coax connector. Ethernet-in, and Ethernet-out.

That suggest to me that you must have a THIRD box... which actually is your true cable modem (if your ISP is a cable company) or a DSL modem (if your ISP is your phone company). Either of these modems would then most likely have a single output ethernet connector, and you'd have that connected to the WAN port on your N150 as you describe. That's the only way the N150 could be "connected to the Internet", is through an external modem (third box). The N150 itself has no direct built-in modem.

So... what is your complete hardware configuration? What is the brand/model of what I'm guessing must be that true external modem from your ISP?? And are you getting Internat via your cable company or DSL from your phone company?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Oct 2013   #5

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)

Also, I continue to wonder why you need TWO routers, and TWO networks?

Both the N150 and N4500 are wired/wireless routers. So why can't you use just one of these with wireless enabled to support your NAS and other LAN devices which I guess don't need to connect to the Internet?

Or, if you have ethernet cables in your house you can use the available wired ports on just the one router you choose to connect those other devices "wired" instead of "wireless".

Or, you can use a "switch" (not a router), which connects WIRED to a wired port on your router and in turn then provides multiple additional WIRED ports for connecting to wired devices via more ethernet cables (like sort of a "power strip with multiple plugs" for ethernet devices). The switch really is nothing more than a wired port-multiplier for your 4-port router, providing any number of additional wired ports without any firewall issues as would be the case if you used additional routers. That's why switches are so useful.

In other words, I still don't understand why you don't just use one router, with wireless enabled, to provide both wired and wireless capability. If you need remote access in your house that you can't reach with an ethernet cable or for which your wireless capability is non-existent or unreliable or too slow, there are other hardware solutions such as a "range extender", or "wireless access point", or "ethernet over coax", or "ethernet over powerline". All of these are solutions that provide either wired or wireless access to the far reaches of your home that are otherwise not directly served by ethernet cables or cannot be reached by wireless from your base router.

It doesn't matter if your devices do or do not need to see the Internet. They obviously just need to see "themselves" and "other devices" on the LAN, as well as your PC. And all that is needed to support ALL OF THESE POSSIBLE NEEDS is one wired/wireless router. If additional wired/wireless connectivity is required that cannot be satisfied reliably or practically through that one router, "extension devices" and technology exist... but secondary routers should really NOT be those "extension devices", because of firewall issues in those multiple routers.

You want one just router in my opinion. And maybe one or more switches, and or "extension devices", to provide more wired/wireless connectivity throughout your house. Whichever devices need to see the Internet, they will be able to. Whichever devices have no Internet requirements but do need to see other LAN-based devices or PC's, well they will be able to do that too.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Oct 2013   #6

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

Just to clarify... There seem to be different models available in some countries... Sorry that I didn't post that straight away.

N150 DGN1000
Came from my dsl provider

N900 WNDR4500
Bought for faster home network between NAS, laptop, iPad etc.

The N150 is directly connected to the phone line. We don't have a landline phone so no splitter or anything else in between.

The N900 has an internet modem port (see specs tab on the link above). This is where I connected an ethernet port from the N150.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Oct 2013   #7

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)

Ok. That's where the "modem" lives... in your Australian model of the N150 which includes a DSL modem in it. There's a standard phone jack on the back of the unit, rather than a coax connector (as there is on my Motorola SBG6580 cable modem/router) or a WAN RJ-45 ethernet connector (as there is on your WNDR4500).

And you're right, the N900 provides gigabit 10/100/1000 wired speeds whereas the N150 only provides fast ethernet 10/100 wired speeds. But if I understand your setup you're not using wired connections from your NAS, iPad and laptop. You're using wireless, isn't that right?

And if you're using all-wireless from the devices to the N900 router, I would be very surprised if you're really getting anything like the performance you might expect, except if they're quite close to the router. The further away they are from the router the more likely the negotiated reliable speed between device and router will drop down.

And of course, if any of these devices connected to the N900 actually does require access to the Internet, it will be done through the connection from N900 to the N150, which is limited to 10/100 speed. Of course your DSL speed is probably only 5Mbps or thereabouts, so 10/100 is not really a limiting factor in any way.

Nevertheless, my recommendation is to still use only one router... which means only one firewall, and one network. Here's my recommended change to your setup: do NOT use the N900 to provide wired/wireless capability, BECAUSE IT IS A ROUTER. Instead, buy a Netgear WN604 "wireless access point" (it is NOT a router, but rather it is a wireless access point as well as being a 4-port "wired switch"), which also includes four 10/100 wired ports... if you can live with 10/100 wired non-Internet LAN speed. Of course if you could have accepted that, you probably would have been content to just use the N150 which provides similar wired speed capability. But again, if you're really using the N900 for wireless connectivity then you're not getting anything at all near gigabit speeds over wireless anyway, so who cares?

However if you really do want to support gigabit wired speeds between your wired devices on your LAN, you can buy the somewhat more expensive Netgear WN802T "gigabit edition" wireless access point. This provides 4-port 10/100/1000 gigabit "wired switch" capability along with its wireless capability similar to that of the WN604.

Both the WN604 and WN802 connect to your N150 via the same single wired ethernet cable that you currently are using to connect your N900 router to the N150. And both the WN604 and WN802 provide the same wireless "N" network capability that your N900 does... except that the WN604 and WN802 are "wireless access points" (and 4-port "wired switches") rather than being a "router". So there is no second firewall involved from a second router like your N900 (although there is of course standard wireless WPA security).

In fact, any wired/wireless device connected through the WN604/WN802 will actually show up in the "wired attached devices" table of your one and only N150 router!!! They will not show up as "wireless", even if they are wirelessly connected to the WN604/WN802. Again, the WN604/WN802 are really just "wired switches" with wireless capability as well, and any wired/wireless devices connected to them are actually being managed as "wired devices" back in your N150 router... by virtue of the magic of the wired connection from the N150 to the WN604/WN802 "wireless access point".

Here in the US, the WN604 costs about $50. And the WN802 costs about $93.

Again... you really don't want two routers. One router and a wireless access point (which connects via ethernet cable to your N150 router, same as your N900 router does today, and provides the same wireless capability as your N900 router does today although wireless connected devices will show up in the wired attached devices table back on your N150) is what you really should be using for your needs.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Oct 2013   #8

Windows 7 Professional x64 SP1 ; Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard

Haven't read through the whole thread just the first post. All I wanted to say is that you will need to have another wireless NIC for two simultaneous wireless connections. The destination IP address will determine what NIC will be used to reach its destination (Both networks need to be on a different subnet).

For internet connection, Windows will automatically use the connection with the lowest metric which is normally the one with the most amount of bandwidth.

Just my brief view,
Josh :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Oct 2013   #9

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Shadowjk View Post
Haven't read through the whole thread just the first post. All I wanted to say is that you will need to have another wireless NIC for two simultaneous wireless connections. The destination IP address will determine what NIC will be used to reach its destination (Both networks need to be on a different subnet).

For internet connection, Windows will automatically use the connection with the lowest metric which is normally the one with the most amount of bandwidth.
True, if two simultaneous wireless connection networks were truly required.

But subsequent information by the OP reveals that the real situation is that the ISP-provided Netgear DGN1000 DSLmodem+router (N150) is only 10/100 on its wired side. And he turned off wireless capability in the N150, thus providing only DSLmodem plus 10/100 wired capability for anything connected to that device.

However he wanted faster inter-device capability for the wired/wireless devices within his LAN, so he bought a second device he thought would provide that capability, i.e. a Netgear WNDR4500 router (N900) which supports 10/100/1000 speeds on wired connections. The wireless capability of the N900 was enabled, so all wireless connections went through this N900.

And the N900 itself was "strung wired" off of a wired port on the N150, so he now had TWO routers (arranged linearly, not two separate subnets talking simultaneously to two separate NIC's in his PC) that any device had to go through. He thus did get 10/100/1000 speeds within the devices connected "wired" through the N900, although that would of course only not be true for any devices connected wirelessly through the N900 where only 811.n speed would have been possible, and very likely less that maximum in the real world for devices not nearby the N900 router.

So his needs really do not require multiple routers. One N150 10/100 router would do fine to provide Internet access for any device needing it, with a "gigabit switch" (not a second router) providing perfectly acceptable 10/100/1000 internal LAN connectivity if all devices connected "wired" were connected to the switch, and the switch was itself wired connected to a wired port on the N150 router. Everything would be satisfactory if no wireless capability were needed.

But if wireless capability is also a requirement, then simply adding a wireless access point (again, not a second router) would be perfectly adequate. A device like the Netgear WN604 provides 811.n along with a 4-port 10/100 wired switch, although if that 10/100 speed had been acceptable then the wired ports of the N150 could be used directly (and the N150's wireless capability could have been enabled). Again, one router (the N150), 811.n wireless, and 10/100 wired capability through the WN604 and N150 router, ability for any device to get to the Internet if needed, and a 10/100 switch on the WN604 for inter-device speeds for devices connected wired to the switch. And all devices can see each other.

Or, if higher inter-device speeds of 10/100/1000 for devices connected wired are truly desired, a higher speed wireless access point (again not a second router) with 4-port 10/100/1000 wired switch functionality such as the Netgear WN802 would be the ticket. Now you again have 811.n wireless, plus 10/100 speeds for devices connected to the wired ports of the N150, along with 10/100/1000 speeds for devices connected wired to the wired ports of the WN802. So now you have one router (the N150), 811.n wireless, and potentially gigabit connectivity for devices connected wired through the WN802.

Again... only one NIC is needed in the PC and it can even be purely wired, connected wired to the N150 if the NIC is 10/100. If the NIC in the PC is gigabit, it can be connected wired to the WN802 in order to be able to communicate to NAS and other LAN devices also connected wired through the WN802. So only one router is needed, and all wired/wireless devices connected through the WN802 will appear to be "wired attached devices" when viewing the table of attached devices back n the N150 router.

One router, and one wireless access point (which includes a built-in 4-port switch for wired devices).

That turns out to be the story.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Connect to 2 wireless networks simultaneously

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