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I have purchased three Airport Extreme routers. I have a cable modem in one room that currently feeds into our primary router (which I want to replace with an Extreme), which feeds into a switch, which then distributes Internet and LAN services over ethernet via CAT5 to an office upstairs and another office a few rooms over. (The walls in our building are thick, so I can't do a purely wireless mesh.)

What I want is basically for one Extreme (the one next to the cable modem) to be my primary router and DHCP server, and the other two to be access points extending the primary network.

I tried using the Airport Utility to set it up following their instructions to extend a network, however, it seems that it was trying to do so wirelessly, not through the ethernet cables I had plugged into the Extremes. As a result, the two access point Extremes kept losing their connections to the primary Extreme.

How can I get this setup to work the way I want it to?

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On the satellite AE's, set the WAN port to bridged, and make sure all three AEs have the same SSID, security, and password. Connect satellite AEs to the main AE via ethernet cables (or all three to a switch). I do this at my house and it works flawlessly.

I believe one of the other answers is incorrect based on the information above.

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You can only extend the network wirelessly. For wired interconnections, the other AE's will need their own WiFi netwok names. You can make all the names the same or different just be aware that many devices won't seamlessly roam and will not automatically use the strongest connection or switch when you move between rooms. IMHO, having used both approached, you are better off with different names so it's obvious what's going on.

One AE can do all the DHCP assignments.

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If the bridged AE's are 2nd generation, they need to be plugged in via the WAN port, not the LAN ports! I know there are much newer versions for AE, but for those of you that have old AE 2nd gen's sitting in a closet, take them out and use them to create a roaming network, but remember to plug them into the WAN port, not the LAN. However, on the newer AE's, you connect via the LAN ports! Until I found (old) documentation on the Apple web site, I didn't know why my AE 2nd gens weren't working as roaming networks. Now they do, and they do it well!

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