Is Powerline the answer?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by Tallgrl230, May 16, 2019.

  1. Tallgrl230, May 16, 2019
    Last edited: May 16, 2019

    Tallgrl230 macrumors newbie

    Tallgrl230

    Joined:
    May 16, 2019
    #1
    Ok, so I'm a newly single lady and learning how to do networking in my home (ex did it for 20 years!). I have an AT&T Uverse router and it's DSL. We don't have fiber here yet! Most of my neighbors complain slow speeds and slow-downs, but my internet is fairly quick during the day.

    The problem is when my kids are home and on devices, I get the worse signal in the house. It could be that all my neighbors are on devices, too, but I can actually have kids turn off devices and get quicker connection.

    People have suggested to ditch the AT&T router and buy a more powerful router, but I"m not sure that's the answer. I'm in a 3,500 sq foot house and my room us at the very far end. Every user in this house is upstream from me. If one of them streams Netflix, my internet browsing will time out! I also lose my connection very easily. I have an extender that's about 5 years old and it helps a bit.

    If I bought Powerline, would this help? Do I need a better router? I don't even know if a store-bought router would work or if I'm required to use the one AT&T issued. I'm about to sell this house and move just for better internet! Joking, but I've thought about it!

    My router is an AT&T 5268AC with broadband 1 & 2. AT&T has confirmed the connection to the router is at full strength. I see people online having the same issue with this router that I am. Where do I start? Please remember I don't know a lot of networking lingo.
     
  2. Banglazed macrumors demi-god

    Banglazed

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2017
    Location:
    Cupertino, CA
    #2
    Normally, ISP does not always supply the best equipment. If it is possible, I would invest in a better router, disable the current WiFi feature on the device and connect your own router directly to one of the port. AT&T router will be used as a gateway to bridge their service and your personal router. What is your current connection speed? Are you at least getting the advertised speed using Speedtest app? (possible use the app instead of the browser for test). You can use a single long range router or a mesh network routers. Budget for upgrading your router?
     
  3. Tallgrl230 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Tallgrl230

    Joined:
    May 16, 2019
    #3
    Thanks so much Banglazed! Oh, I need to keep it pretty cheap! The mesh system seems too expensive. Around $100 up to $200 if it'll be worth it.
    --- Post Merged, May 17, 2019 ---
    Use an app on my phone to check the speed instead of my macbook? Do you have an app you could suggest? Thanks!
    --- Post Merged, May 17, 2019 ---
    I know on a pc I'd go to "run" then type cmd, 4.2.2.1 I don't know how to ping on a mac, though.
    --- Post Merged, May 17, 2019 ---
    This might be helpful. This is what my wifi connection is right now.
     

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  4. Banglazed macrumors demi-god

    Banglazed

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2017
    Location:
    Cupertino, CA
    #4
    You can get the app here and try it on your Mac. Can you connect your Mac directly to the router through an ethernet cable? This can give a more accurate speed test. Then, compare it to your AT&T bill. At times, ISP may not properly provision the right speed so double check your bill. https://www.speedtest.net/apps

    I am trying to assess whether your internet speed is at least decent to handle the bandwidth of your users.
     
  5. techwarrior macrumors 65816

    techwarrior

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    #5
    My parents have a similar setup, ATT uVerse DSL. Their issue was similar, reasonable speeds at certain times of the day, pathetic at other times.

    I determined WiFi oversaturation in their area was mostly to blame. Firth thing I did was plug a Mac into the router with ethernet and run speed test, speeds were quite good. I then tested with a WiFi connection, poor results. I scanned the WiFi signals in the area and found a bunch of signals from neighbors, almost all in the channel 6 (2.4GHz) range. My conclusion was the collisions on the competing networks was slowing things to a crawl.

    By adjusting the channels their router used, i sped it up considerably. I also ran a power line adapter to create another WiFi access point in another part of the home to expand the coverage area.
     
  6. Tallgrl230 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Tallgrl230

    Joined:
    May 16, 2019
    #6
    Can someone explain how to adjust the channels on a router? I'm sure this DSL connection has too many users since I hear a lot of complaints about the speed. Weird thing is, it us the worst at 12:30-2:00am!! I'm a nightowl and it kills me how it slows to a crawl at that time and no one in my house is using it. Think neighbors have theirs set to update? Doubt we're all on the internet at that time.
     
  7. techwarrior macrumors 65816

    techwarrior

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    #7
    When the high bandwidth porn videos are in high demand maybe? lol

    Differs with each router. My recollection is, ATT puts the login on a label on the router. You will need to now the router's internal address, typically 192.168.0.1, but if you open Network Preferences on your Mac, Then Advanced > TCP/IP, the Router will show mid-page. Then, in a browser, type in http://192.168.0.1 (or whatever your router address is). Login using the credentials on the router label.

    You will have to poke around, but there will be a Wireless tab probably where the Network Name (SSID) and password are configured, and there should be a dropdown box to specify which channels to use. But, before you do this, a couple of things...

    I noticed your connection above showed 802.11npHY mode but the router model suggests it is an 802.11ac capable unit. Most routers by default use the same SSID and password for both 2.4 and 5GHz, for simplicity reasons, this is ok. But this might be the first thing to try changing to improve the network. Why? A little lesson and history will help...

    WiFi (802.11) has evolved through 6 generation, each improving on the prior. Recent generations were 802.11n, then 802.11ac, then 802.11ax (just now coming out, but newer than your router no doubt - so ignore this for now). 802.11n uses both frequencies, but 2.4GHz is slower and more likely to suffer from congestion. 802.11ac uses both as well, but the ac PHY connection will always be 5GHz, else you may connect to the 2.4 frequencies in 802.11n PHY mode.

    Why is this important? 2.4GHz has 12 channels, 5GHz has as many as 45. Range on 2.4 is greater, meaning neighboring networks overlap. 5 GHz sorter range means often you neighbors signal may not reach your house. Interference on 2.4GHz frequencies from radar, microwaves, cordless phones, wireless keyboard\mice, bluetooth devices can blast signals that the router has to sort through, while your data transmissions have to queue up while it sorts through the garbage. Think of AM radio when you are a distance from the source, you start to hear signals from other radio stations overlap, same with WiFi but the router has to try to filter the noise. Also, 5GHz 802.11ac is much faster than 2.4GHz 802.11n.

    All this to say, connecting to 5GHz AC WiFi instead of 2.4GHz N will often solve your problems. So back to the SSID, one thing you can try is renaming the 5GHz SSID to something different than the 2.4GHz, MYNETWORK and MYNETWORK5G for example. Now on any devices that can see the 5G signal, have them join that network and ignore the 2.4GHz one. If that solves your problem, stop here and enjoy. Generally, 5GHz channels don't need to be messed with because there are so many and range is shorter so less overlap with neighbors.

    If you still need devices to connect to 2.4GHz, there will be a channel selector in the wireless settings page on the router. But first, you need to know what the channels are on surrounding networks. For this, there are WiFi analyzer apps for the Mac, but iOS devices have a simple, free way to scan the air signals. If you don't already have it, install the Apple Airport utility, never mind that you don't have Apple WiFi gear. Then, in Settings > Airport Utility, toggle the WiFi Scanner setting. Then launch the app, click the scan link in the upper right. You will see a list of all of the signals your iOS device picks up, including data like the screenshot above from Mac. Channels and frequency will appear as well as noise and strength data. Note the 2.4GHz channels that are strongest in your area, then set the router to channels that are less frequently in use. But, understand, if you pick CH6, you are actually using 4, 5, 6, 7. Same with your neighbors. So find gaps where the most channels are not in use and try it out.

    Back to 802.11ax or WiFi6 as they are calling it. AX is designed to filter the traffic to get to legitimate data packets sooner. it has longer range and faster speeds, but devices won't support this for another 1-2 years, then only on new devices. So, for now, deal with it the best you can and know it may get a bit better in the future.

    One last tip. Anything that can plug into the network should do so, this reduces the number of devices fighting for access to the wireless signals and will speed things up for other devices.
     
  8. Tallgrl230, May 21, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: May 22, 2019

    Tallgrl230 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Tallgrl230

    Joined:
    May 16, 2019
    #8
    Hahaha, I wouldn't doubt it! Maybe I should post a message on our Neighborhood board asking the gentlemen to kindly use another channel!

    You offer a lot of great advice! I'm going to have to put some time into following your steps to figure out if I can find a channel with better connections.

    Couple ideas I has while reading your post. I use my laptop in my bedroom which is located at the far end of my house (it's a very long, one-level ranch home). My router is on the other side of the house in the bonus room. My neighbor's house is right next to my bedroom and I get a strong signal from their router! I wonder if their router located closer to my bedroom than mine is. Maybe it does updates at night and that's why I suddenly get a bad signal? Or maybe the old guy is watching porn after midnight, haha. Their interference with my signal would make a lot of sense! My connection definitely struggles when kids are online, but those random times when it slows down could be because of them?

    Does that make sense? Guess I'll have to check my connection at different time to see if something outside my home is slowing it down.

    Would changing the channel take care of the issue if I'm competing with a stronger signal from nextdoor?

    On a different note, during the day, my son's gaming pc is upstream and hogs everything when he's using it. I get messages saying my Mac can't connect to the internet at all. At this point I use my phone as a hot spot or kick my son off the pc. Is there a router that will allow me to get priority over the kids? Maybe I should move his gaming set up into the bonus room so he can connect through ethernet cable.

    Thanks SOOOO much!
     
  9. hobowankenobi, May 26, 2019
    Last edited: May 26, 2019

    hobowankenobi macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2015
    Location:
    on the land line mr. smith.
    #9
    Odds are....the distance/signal strength are the single biggest hurdle. Channel issues could be a close second.

    No idea about the router ATT provides these days, but if it were me, I would want to simply turn off the wifi on their router, and use it for the modem/routing only (like a wired-only router) and then set up my own WAPs (wireless access points). One somewhere close to the router now (so it can be easily wired), and one via your idea of a powerline adapter towards the other end of the house.

    Two of these would likley do it. I have been running 2 for more than 3 years, and they have been rock solid. Very easy to see all devices and channels, and easily change them. Lots of nice other features, like changing signal strength. While they have tons of features, they run nicely in default/automatic mode.

    Othe WAPs out there, but UBNT is the best bang for the buck I have used.
     
  10. techwarrior macrumors 65816

    techwarrior

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    #10
    It might, but if your signal is weak at that spot, that might be the biggest issue.
    Yes, my Synology RT2600AC can prioritize clients.
     
  11. hobowankenobi macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2015
    Location:
    on the land line mr. smith.
    #11
    +1. Synology hard to beat for managing traffic. Also nice parental controls to kick the kids off the network. :D
     

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10 May 16, 2019