differentiating more than one AP with same SSID


May 15, 2003
i work at a company that monitors/supports multiple different wireless hotspot locations. we have some locations that have multiple AP's for our clients to connect to. all the AP's broadcast the same SSID, but are on different channels to avoid interference. this works well when all the AP's are operational.

however, when an AP loses connectivity to the main network, it still broadcasts the SSID, but obviously no one can get anywhere, and unfortunately we can also not reach the AP remotely to get it reconnected.

if the client has a scannable bridge unit, or if they have a wireless client utility other than the one built into windows, they can usually scan and see a list of all the AP's and choose between them, even if they are using the same SSID. the problem comes when the client is using the wireless connection utility built into windows (or Macintosh, even)....these utilities very annoyingly lump all AP's with the same SSID into one single choice in the AP list.

does anyone know if there is any way with the Windows or Mac wireless connection utilities to differentiate between the different AP's, and tell the wireless adapter to connect to a specific one (the one that is working, vs. the one not working)?

obviously, we need to resolve the issues with the ones that are not working, but sometimes (depending on how remote the location is), it can take several days to do so, and it would be very beneficial to our call volume to be able to help our customers manually connect to another AP that is actually working.