Actiontec 54Mbps Access Point and PC Card

The Actiontec 54Mbps Access Point and PC Card - Page 2

Actiontec's 54Mbps Wireless Access Point
Easily Connect to Your Network or Share an Internet Connection

By, Marco Chiappetta
October 16, 2003

Installing the Actiontec 54Mbps Wireless Access Point and PC card, could not have been any easier.  If you're not concerned with security, simply plugging the Access Point into your switch / hub, and installing the PC Card and its drivers into you PC is all it takes.  We'd recommend logging into the Access Point's configuration utility, however...

Installation & Setup Of The Actiontec 54Mbps AP and PC Card
It Couldn't Be Any Easier













The screenshots above represent eight of the menus available within the Actiontec Access Point's web based configuration utility, and the included locator application that will help you find the Access Point once it is connected to your network.  The locator application is very straightforward.  Install the app, run it and a few moments later you'll be presented with your Access Point's ID and IP address.  Click on the "Web" button, login with the proper name and password, and you'll then be able to tailor the Access Point for you needs (The Scan button available in the locator's menu simply rescans for more access points, the configure button allows you to alter the Access Point's IP address).

All of the Actiontec 54Mbps Wireless Access Point's customization is done using the web based configuration utility. The "Info" menu gives just that - information like the AP's name and firmware revision, etc.  The "Assoc" screen displays a list of MAC addresses associated with the access point.  Under the "Wireless" menu, you'll find quite a few interesting toggles.  The "Visibility Status" offers some level of security, by hiding the AP from anyone except those with the unit's explicit SSID, or wireless network name (which incidentally can also be set on this screen).  The Access Point's channel can also be changed on the "Wireless" menu.  We actually had to experiment quite a bit with different channels because of interference in our lab; more in this later.  Within the "Access" menu, users can add yet another level of security by listing the MAC address that can be associated with the AP.  With Access Control enabled, only the MAC addresses listed on this page can be linked the AP.  The "Advanced" menu gives user's the ability to alter some low level settings, but we suspect most home users probably won't touch anything here.  The "Security" menu is where WEP (Wireless Encryption Standard) can be enabled, and the keys specified.  Lastly, we have the "IP Settings" and "Admin" menus where the Access Point's IP and login settings can be altered.  As you can see, the Actiontec 54Mbps Wireless Access point is a highly configurable device.





The PC Card has its fair share of menus as well, but they're mostly for displaying information, rather than altering settings.  The "Status" screen offers the most useful bits of information.  The "Status" screen displays the quality of the wireless connection, transfer rates and the current channel that is in use.  Under the IBSS tab, users can select their desired channel, all of which fall in the 2.4GHz frequency range.  Countries and Domains, along with 802.11d support can be selected on the domain tab and the about tab gives some basic information about the card and software revisions.

Installing the Actiontec Access Point and PC card was virtually painless, but once we had the unit up and running for a while we hit a few speed-bumps.  For the most part, wireless connections were good.  When using Actiontec's 802.11g PC card, we consistently had strong signal strength, even as far as 60 feet away, through walls and everything else in-between.  When we used our Centrino laptop's built in 802.11b NIC, signal strength was also good, but the connection dropped constantly.  We suspected interference was the problem, because we'd have an excellent signal, that would instantaneously drop, and then come back a few moments later.  Actiontec's 802.11g card dropped the signal far less frequently, but we still lost the connection enough to leave us uncomfortable.  We experimented with different channels, antenna positioning and even moved the Access Point to different parts of the lab, but to no avail.  In the end, we found the problem to be a Panasonic KX-TG2570S cordless phone.  Occasionally, when the phone rang or we made a call, we would lose our wireless link.  The cordless phone and Access Point both operate in the 2.4GHz frequency range and it seems the Access Point couldn't deal with the phone's signal some of the time...


Testing & The Rating

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