In most cases, a traditional consumer router would allow you to cover only one scenario. It would connect your wired/wireless LAN clients to an Internet service provider via a single physical WAN port on the router. In FreshTomato, this concept has been abstracted. Each router interface, whether physical or wireless, can be customized to work as WAN or LAN interface, allowing for some very creative scenarios. Let's discuss some common examples.
Previously, we've discussed Wireless client mode, in which FreshTomato connects to another router/AP and FreshTomato and its wired clients use that interface to access the Internet. In this scenario, the internal wireless chipset is used to provide connectivity and does not allow client devices of the client router to connect via wireless.
Wireless Client Mode can run on three types of devices:
Now let's look at some real-world scenarios to understand how you might use the above modes in each scenario.
You have access to an external WiFi service in front of your property, but the signal doesn't reach the back of the property. You'll need a dual band device, at minimum.
Set up wl0 as wireless client and wl1 as an AP. On Dual band devices, the wl0 interface is usually 2.4 GHz and wl1 is 5 GHz so there's no risk of interference between the two. Remember that typically, the 2.4 GHz band will travel further so you'll want to use this band to connect at longer distances. If your device is tri-band, make sure the 2x 5 GHz interfaces (in whatever operation mode they might be) work on a non-overlapping frequency (channel). In this mode your router will connect for you to the external WiFi and serve you a SSID to connect to from within the property.
You have a wireless router/AP in one building and want to extend the LAN to a second building. Ideally you would use a long Ethernet cable for this purpose, but this is not always possible. Both Wireless Ethernet Bridge and Media Bridge modes allow you to extend the LAN from one building to another. However, if you have a large number of client devices, and end-to-end LAN connectivity is not a prerequisite, you might want to use Wireless client mode, as this will stop broadcast packets (or at least reduce them to a minimum) flowing over the wireless link. Of course intra LAN communication over the single Wireless link is limited in capacity but it works well for low bandwidth traffic.
You have access to both Physical connectivity (your ISP) and wireless connectivity (e.g. your generous neighbour). Here, you might want a dual WAN configuration, where the ISP on the physical WAN port acts as your primary WAN, and where e.g. wl0 provides a backup connection. In this case, MultiWAN should be set with weight 1/0 (active/passive).
DualWAN Wireless client. Say you have a Dual/tri-band router and have access to two different WiFi Service (say public on the street + generous neighbour), you could set up wl0 as wireless client for the public Internet and wl1 as a wireless client towards your neighbour. At this point if you have a Dual band you're left only with physical connectivity for your LAN where on Tri-band you still have room to create your local SSID. Please note Dual Band are always 1x 2.4GHz + 1x 5GHz where Tri-band are always 1x 2.4GHz + 2x 5GHz, so make sure you plan this properly as some devices are likely to be 2.4GHz only. Adding a second local device (FreshTomato or not) to handle LAN WiFi is also a possibility.
WiFi 6 is a superior technology not currently supported by FreshTomato due to driver/kernel restriction. If you are in a position where you need to cover a large estate (with repeaters etc) it is advised to buy external WiFi 6 mesh systems to handle LAN WiFi connectivity only; letting FreshTomato perform all the gateway operations. Make sure the WiFi 6 mesh system you select supports VLANs if you are to provide functions like e.g. Guest WLAN or any sort of LAN separation.
WDS is an old protocol to establish FreshTomato to FreshTomato direct wireless connectivity. As of, 2022 it is recommended to use this function, as it cuts intra-device bandwidth in half. If you are in a position to choose between protocols in this type of scenario, it is recommend you use Media Bridge or Wireless Ethernet Bridge mode instead.