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#233748 1-May-2018 09:56
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After all the moaning from the teenagers and wife about our "poor Internet", (we have a 950/450 fibre connection), it's time for me to investigate the best way to improve our wifi coverage. Despite my insistence that our Internet is actually pretty kick arse now, they still give me a hard time about things deteriorating ever since our move to fibre.

The real issue here of course is poor wifi coverage, so I'm looking for advice on the best way to improve this. I'm wondering if a wifi mesh network is the way to go, or if there is a way to leverage or improve our existing configuration. 

 

Wifi is currently delivered via an ASUS RT-AC68U router. I've also got the Spark supplied Huawei router (HG659b) in another location in an effort to extend the range (connected to the LAN via Ethernet, and set up as a wireless access point. This has a different SSID, as it wouldn't allow me to use the same one due to a restriction on spaces in the SSID. With this configuration we're having all sorts of issues with wifi performance (on both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands). Neither wifi access point is overly reliable, and it's common to have to switch between the two in order to fix wifi performance issues. 

We have a pretty big house (two story, 271m2), with the ONT terminating in one corner of the house upstairs. Luckily I do have an Ethernet port in a reasonably central point upstairs, and another one downstairs at the other end of the house. So these can be leveraged to extend coverage. This is what I've attempted to do with the Huawei, but it's not working out so well. Perhaps there's a way to tweak this though?

 

Based on this information, I'm looking for recommendations of the best way to improve our situation. Ideally I'd like a solution that may be able to utilize our existing equipment, but if that is going to be pushing the proverbial uphill, I'm willing to consider replacing existing equipment. I can't help thinking a wifi mesh system may be the solution I'm after here. But I also can't help thinking that the Ethernet ports I have scattered throughout the house may present a cheaper, but just as reliable, option.

The key thing here is I do not want to be spending money on a solution that shows little to no improvement. I'm already in trouble (unfairly, I'd counter) for talking my wife into the GB fibre plan which has, in her mind, shown a degradation in performance over our old 70/30 VDSL connection. To be honest, I am a little confused why the switch to fibre coincided with a drop in wifi performance, but that appears to be what's happened. Perhaps the equipment I have isn't quite up to the task after all (although I'm hoping a few judicious tweaks may still be possible to improve things).


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  #2005706 1-May-2018 10:01
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You're going to have to spend money but just state it is to "fix the WiFi" so happy wife.

 

Look at grabbing a couple of Grandstream GWN7610's (or 7600's) and maybe a Grandstream GWN7000 router if you'd like a "cheap" but very good option.





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  #2005761 1-May-2018 10:37
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I am a total convert to ceiling mounted wireless access points. I have Cambium E400s, but I am quite sure @michaelmurfy's recommendation about Grandstreams will be excellent too. Coverage and reliability is incredible. These run on POE so you don't need to worry about convenient power points, and the cabling is hidden in the ceiling space (other than the bit that goes from the ceiling to the router). You can wall mount them too, but if your ethenet jacks are all at power point height you will need some creative furniture arranging to hide cables trailing down the walls.

 

But it does rely on at least one, potentially a couple, of ethernet cables running from router into the ceiling space (a two story house can make this even more difficult. I had to go down into the basement then along and up through a convenient cupboard). Could you run an ethernet cable from the patch panel into your ceiling space and have said cable signed off by Mrs dclegg? Mrs MDF has been surprisingly sanguine about this, though the cables are hidden behind trunking.


 
 
 
 




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  #2005764 1-May-2018 10:38
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michaelmurfy:

 

You're going to have to spend money but just state it is to "fix the WiFi" so happy wife.

 

Look at grabbing a couple of Grandstream GWN7610's (or 7600's) and maybe a Grandstream GWN7000 router if you'd like a "cheap" but very good option.

 



Thanks for the suggestion.

Could I get away with initially only getting one GWN7610? It claims to have a range of 175m. If I connected it at the upstairs Ethernet port, it should be reasonably central to all the important areas I need to reach. Here's a floor plan for the upstairs floor, in case it's helpful in determining likely coverage range.

Click to see full size

And would it be reasonably simple to assimilate it with my ASUS router? Am I correct in thinking it's simply a case of disabling wifi on the ASUS, connecting this to the LAN via Ethernet, and then configuring the wifi on this fella? Ideally I'd like to keep the same SSID and password as I currently use, so I don't have to reconfigure the myriad of connected wifi devices, but it's not a deal breaker for me.


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  #2005773 1-May-2018 10:42
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And just mentioning a feature add that I've finally got around to deploying, the kids have their own wifi network. This enforces safe browsing and add blocking*, and can be set to a timer/manual override. So far I've managed to refrain myself to only pushing the off button "for their own good", but the potential for extorting good behaviour is potentially limitless. My (upstart) 9 year old has tried "well, you won't be able to use the internet either". She wasn't impressed with my maniacal laughter and god-like powers to revoke her internet while keeping mine.**

 

*Add blocking is still in beta testing.

 

**I was actually nice(ish) about it. I didn't actually laugh maniacally. Out loud.




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  #2005776 1-May-2018 10:43
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mdf:

 

I am a total convert to ceiling mounted wireless access points. I have Cambium E400s, but I am quite sure @michaelmurfy's recommendation about Grandstreams will be excellent too. Coverage and reliability is incredible. These run on POE so you don't need to worry about convenient power points, and the cabling is hidden in the ceiling space (other than the bit that goes from the ceiling to the router). You can wall mount them too, but if your ethenet jacks are all at power point height you will need some creative furniture arranging to hide cables trailing down the walls.

 

But it does rely on at least one, potentially a couple, of ethernet cables running from router into the ceiling space (a two story house can make this even more difficult. I had to go down into the basement then along and up through a convenient cupboard). Could you run an ethernet cable from the patch panel into your ceiling space and have said cable signed off by Mrs dclegg? Mrs MDF has been surprisingly sanguine about this, though the cables are hidden behind trunking.

 

 

Any additional cabling would be way out of scope for this project. But I do have existing Ethernet cabling I can use (not sure how POE fits in here though; I know nothing about this apart from knowing what the acronym stands for). Do these have to be wall mounted, or can they simply sit on existing furniture?


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  #2005784 1-May-2018 10:52
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dclegg:

 

Thanks for the suggestion.

Could I get away with initially only getting one GWN7610? It claims to have a range of 175m. If I connected it at the upstairs Ethernet port, it should be reasonably central to all the important areas I need to reach. Here's a floor plan for the upstairs floor, in case it's helpful in determining likely coverage range.

And would it be reasonably simple to assimilate it with my ASUS router? Am I correct in thinking it's simply a case of disabling wifi on the ASUS, connecting this to the LAN via Ethernet, and then configuring the wifi on this fella? Ideally I'd like to keep the same SSID and password as I currently use, so I don't have to reconfigure the myriad of connected wifi devices, but it's not a deal breaker for me.

 

 

Looks pretty open so I think you'd be pretty good upstairs and (probably) downstairs too. I've got a WAP upstairs and down. Some months ago the downstairs one went on the fritz (bad crimp) and according to the stats on the device, it had been offline for 6 weeks before I'd noticed.

 

There's no reason why you couldn't (say) use the Asus for downstairs wifi and the WAP for upstairs. I'd probably be inclined to use separate networks. Roaming between WAPs (of the same model at least) tends to work well, but I've had much more mixed results going between different routers/WAPs.

 

The other advantage of using compatible routers and WAPs is that you can configure everything separately from a central controller and push that to all your access points. This is how I manage the kids wifi without having to log on to 4 different devices.

 

Personally, I wouldn't try and recreate your existing wifi SSID and password. I've had problems where something hung itself because it thought it was connecting to device A, when I'd changed device B to match A.


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  #2005787 1-May-2018 10:55
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dclegg:

 

mdf:

 

I am a total convert to ceiling mounted wireless access points. I have Cambium E400s, but I am quite sure @michaelmurfy's recommendation about Grandstreams will be excellent too. Coverage and reliability is incredible. These run on POE so you don't need to worry about convenient power points, and the cabling is hidden in the ceiling space (other than the bit that goes from the ceiling to the router). You can wall mount them too, but if your ethenet jacks are all at power point height you will need some creative furniture arranging to hide cables trailing down the walls.

 

But it does rely on at least one, potentially a couple, of ethernet cables running from router into the ceiling space (a two story house can make this even more difficult. I had to go down into the basement then along and up through a convenient cupboard). Could you run an ethernet cable from the patch panel into your ceiling space and have said cable signed off by Mrs dclegg? Mrs MDF has been surprisingly sanguine about this, though the cables are hidden behind trunking.

 

 

Any additional cabling would be way out of scope for this project. But I do have existing Ethernet cabling I can use (not sure how POE fits in here though; I know nothing about this apart from knowing what the acronym stands for). Do these have to be wall mounted, or can they simply sit on existing furniture?

 

 

I'm responding out of sync!

 

They're intended to be wall or ceiling mounted. You will get better coverage the higher they are. There's nothing that says they have to be though.

 

The WAP will (probably - check first) come with a POE injector. This has a power socket and two ethernet ports. You plug this into a power socket by your router. Then the ethernet cables go Router --> POE injector --> [wall/ceiling/existing cabling] --> WAP. The WAP will then separate out the power and the data feeds. So you're bascially running power and data over the same ethernet cable.


 
 
 
 


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  #2006090 1-May-2018 15:51
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the claimed range of 175m is not through walls. 2-3 walls is about the limit for 5ghz wifi.

 

if additional cabling it out of the scope use something like this: https://www.pbtech.co.nz/product/NETNGR2200/NETGEAR-Orbi-RBK40-Mesh-Wi-Fi-System---2-Pack-RBR4 
Other brands do similar products so have a browse round and read some reviews to see what suits

 

a ground floor plan would help with respect to placement.




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  #2006105 1-May-2018 16:05
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Jase2985:

 

the claimed range of 175m is not through walls. 2-3 walls is about the limit for 5ghz wifi.

 

if additional cabling it out of the scope use something like this: https://www.pbtech.co.nz/product/NETNGR2200/NETGEAR-Orbi-RBK40-Mesh-Wi-Fi-System---2-Pack-RBR4 
Other brands do similar products so have a browse round and read some reviews to see what suits

 

a ground floor plan would help with respect to placement.

 

 

Here's the ground floor:-

Click to see full size

Not sure if you caught the bit where I mentioned I have an Ethernet port at the other end of the house from where the ONT is (and where our primary wireless router resides). This was specifically placed just in case it would be helpful to extend wifi range in future. It's the port indicated just to the right of Bedroom 1. 

The additional cabling comment was more about messing around to allow an Access Point to be seamlessly mounted on the ceiling or upper wall.


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  #2006115 1-May-2018 16:12
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the problem is most of the quality access points like to be mounted on the wall or ceiling :)

 

your ethernet ports are really not ideal for much as they are to far to the outside of rooms/the house. thats why a mesh wifi system would work better as you only need one of the stations near a ethernet port and the other 1/2 can be anywhere as they talk over a dedicated wifi channel. all they need is power. plus they dont need mounted to walls/ceiling.




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  #2006120 1-May-2018 16:18
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Jase2985:

 

the problem is most of the quality access points like to be mounted on the wall or ceiling :)

 

your ethernet ports are really not ideal for much as they are to far to the outside of rooms/the house. thats why a mesh wifi system would work better as you only need one of the stations near a ethernet port and the other 1/2 can be anywhere as they talk over a dedicated wifi channel. all they need is power. plus they dont need mounted to walls/ceiling.

 



The one downstairs is directly outside the bedroom of the primary moaner of poor wifi (said moaner was given the option of an Ethernet port in her room, but declined; our kids have an aversion to being wired <sigh>).

So I figure an AP, or extender, or <insert better option> there would improve her coverage. The signal would only have one wall to penetrate. And the downstairs area is pretty open, so it may even help with coverage in the lounge too.


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  #2006122 1-May-2018 16:20
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dont use an extender what ever you do :)


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  #2006187 1-May-2018 18:46
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mdf:

 

And just mentioning a feature add that I've finally got around to deploying, the kids have their own wifi network. This enforces safe browsing and add blocking*, and can be set to a timer/manual override. So far I've managed to refrain myself to only pushing the off button "for their own good", but the potential for extorting good behaviour is potentially limitless. My (upstart) 9 year old has tried "well, you won't be able to use the internet either". She wasn't impressed with my maniacal laughter and god-like powers to revoke her internet while keeping mine.**

 

*Add blocking is still in beta testing.

 

**I was actually nice(ish) about it. I didn't actually laugh maniacally. Out loud.

 

 

LOL you mean ad blocking not add blocking???

 

Seems the jam spoon and sitting in the corner has evolved!  

 

 


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  #2006210 1-May-2018 19:40
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Since you have wired ethernet (in rainbow colours, IIRC), I would be inclined to go with more wired access points, albeit not at ideal locations, before considering mesh. That should be the fastest and most reliable solution. As said above, don’t go for an “extender”.

I actually had a similar experience with WiFi dropping out after UFB was installed. I think the issue was that several of my neighbours got new routers when signing up to UFB around the same time, which had stronger signals and caused interference on 2.4GHz.

The solution I took was to get a ceiling mounted Unifi access point, which steers clients onto its 5GHz channel. Our house is relatively small, and the one centrally located AP is enough to cover the whole thing.

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  #2007425 3-May-2018 19:13
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Actually, if you do want a low budget option, I have a couple of Vodafone wifi extenders which might do the trick. I know that will look hypocritical, after literally telling you not to go for an extender in the post above... but they are extenders in name only.

These are the units here: http://help.vodafone.co.nz/app/answers/detail/a_id/28381/~/set-up-your-vodafone-wi-fi-extender

There is also some more technical info here: https://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?forumid=40&topicid=224382

They can function as individual wired desktop access points (which would be the best for you). Otherwise, you can wire one and leave the other "floating". It either acts as a bridge for a wired client, or broadcasts a separate wifi network with a different AP. So, they sit somewhere between an extender and a mesh network.

I've hardly used them, as I don't have any need, so can't comment on how reliable and stable they are. I wouldn't expect them to be as good as the options suggested above.

Note they are 5GHz only. If they would be useful, you can have them for your favourite price.

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