Mesh wifi

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by nrvna76, Jun 8, 2019.

  1. nrvna76 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2010
    #1
    Looking to extend my 5ghz WiFi to the rest of my house. Is it best to just buy mesh WiFi like the netgear orbi? Do I still use my technicolor spectrum router and just put the orbi’s where I want to extend? Never looked into this before but my wireless service is horrible at my house for all carriers and I’m tired of being stuck on 2.4ghz in my backyard and bedroom.
     
  2. techwarrior macrumors 65816

    techwarrior

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    #2
    Orbi can be run as an Access Point instead of a router. in the Advanced Setup > Router A/P Mode settings, there is an AP Mode button. For this to be effective, you would probably want to turn WiFi off on the Spectrum router, or at last name the Orbi WiFi different than the router WiFi. Turning the router WiFi off will reduce interference which is one of the biggest factors in poor WiFi.

    Most routers can run in Bridge Mode, meaning they pass the signal though and don't do the routing. If the Spectrum can do this, it effectively becomes just a modem, and it would allow the Orbi to do the routing.

    You cannot have two routers, you will kill any internet service unless you know how to use some very advanced techniques.

    But, is 802.11ac Mesh going to be your best solution down the road? 802.11ax is starting to hit the market. It has several advantages over 802.11ac including longer range, better interference management, and faster speeds. One AX router may do more than a Mesh setup.

    Also, locating your Spectrum router more centrally could help. This can be done using a longer coax to connect the router to the source, or using a different coax port in a more central location in the home. Typically, homes built since the '80 - '90s were built with coax to most rooms, it all interconnects where the cable comes into the home. The router (or modem) filters the data signal to separate it from the TV signal. So, any coax port in the home can work as a router location.
     
  3. hobowankenobi, Jun 10, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019

    hobowankenobi macrumors 6502a

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    on the land line mr. smith.
    #3
    If you can simply disable wifi on the existing router, then yes, lots of options for APs. Bridge mode will work too as described, but then the existing box is essentially just a modem...would still need a router.

    Really depends on if the current box is acceptable for basic routing stuff (DHCP, firewall, etc). If it is, turning off wifi and using the router as a wired only router could be one less device to buy and manage, find space and plugs for, etc.

    If you have/can run a data cable, my first choice would be a couple UBNT APs. 2 or 3 of even their smallest APs will cover most modern homes. Very manageable, rock-solid wifi.

    Regardless of AP brand, wired APs would be the most reliable, least fiddly setup. Don't forget you could use powerline adapters to get a data port to a room without pulling cable. One AP close to the router (easy enough to wire), towards one end of the house, and a second towards the other end of the house may be all you need. Easy to add a 3rd if needed.

    Powerline adapters also make it fairly easy to move the end point, so you can test/fine tune location.

    Go for great backyard coverage...add a third AP for outdoor use. Powerline to an outside outlet could work (would need to weatherproof the powerline/outlet/cabling), or maybe a data cable in the attic/basement to an eave or porch.
     
  4. nrvna76 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 4, 2010
    #4
    Thanks for the info guys. I do not understand most of what you’re telling me here but I can do more research!!
     
  5. techwarrior macrumors 65816

    techwarrior

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    #5
    Bottom line, 2 Routers = Massive Problems!

    Routers are Access Points (AP) with additional functionality. An AP is any wireless device that grants access to wireless clients. Routers do this, plus forward your internet requests and responses using a Network Address Translation (NAT) scheme. You are probably aware devices on your local network have an address like 192.168.x.x, but your router has a single address that your ISP gives you. Users on the internet cannot access local devices directly without a NAT device to make the translations, and generally only when an established connection exists because routers also have a firewall to block hackers from accessing your devices.

    So, a router maintains a table of requests from local devices to the internet, and when a response comes back, it changes the destination to the requestor using NAT. If you have two routers trying to do the same thing in the same address space, it goes wonky.

    Most routers, including ISP provided routers can act as an Access Point and not do the routing. If your ISP supplied router is an all-in-one device, it has a built in modem. If you have two devices, a modem and a router, the coax (cable internet) from Spectrum will plug in to the modem, the router will have Ethernet to connect to the modem.

    So, your Spectrum modem and be directly connected to any router you wish. Your Spectrum Modem\Router would cause a conflict if you use Orbi straight out of the box. Basically, no internet service.

    So, either the Orbi needs to be configured as an AP, or the Spectrum Router needs to be "disabled" (turned into an AP, aka "Bridged Mode") so that it just acts as a modem and blindly passes traffic from Orbi to the modem and vise versa. Here is a forum piece on setting the Spectrum router to bridged mode. If you set the Spectrum router to Bridged Mode, be sure WiFi is also turned off on the device (it should automatically do that, but just be sure). Too many WiFi signals can create congestion, conflicts, etc and slow your speeds down.

    Now, if you are paying Charter for renting the router, there is another option. You can buy your own modem (without a router), or with some service levels, they may provide a modem at no cost. If you go this route, you can save the monthly rental on equipment (typically $10 or so). But, you need to find a compatible modem and have them provision it for your account (typically a simple phone call). Here is an example of a modem that does well on service levels up to about 400Mbps. Here is a 3.1 modem for 1Gbps service levels.
     
  6. hobowankenobi macrumors 6502a

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    on the land line mr. smith.
    #6
    Good point...about the paid/rental router. Last I heard, Charter/Spectrum included a router/modem as part of their standard service cost. They do for me anyway...maybe it differs by region or plan.

    To break it down even more than TechWarrior did, most networks have 4 main functions that are a combination of hardware and software:

    1 - Modem (translate ISP data transmission to information a router can utilize)
    2 - Router (keep track of local devices, hand out IP addresses to local devices, route traffic, perform some security functions to keep the outside world out)
    3 - Switch (allow multiple wired connections to multiple ethernet ports...also sometimes called a hub)
    4 - Wifi (allow multiple wireless connections and related security like password protection)

    It gets a bit confusing because all 4 of these core functions can be performed by individual hardware devices...or some...or all of them can be done by a single combination device. Your existing Spectrum router is performing all 4 core functions.

    If the router is included (no extra cost), I would say the simplest/cheapest way to greatly improve the wifi range and performance would be to turn off the wifi on the router, and leave all else as is (assuming everything but wifi is performing to your satisfaction). No router/modem to buy, configure, or register with Spectrum. So the Spectrum router would instead perform functions 1, 2, and 3, and a separate WAP system would perform function 4 above.

    One question though...how many LAN ports does your router have? Most have 3 or 4. To use wired WAPs without anything else to buy, you would need 2 free ethernet ports...possibly 3 if you need more coverage.

    Lots of WAPs to choose from, most are easy to manage, easy (...at least easier) to position for optimized coverage. The biggest trade off is that most wired WAPs need a single data cable (for both data and power) vs. an actual mesh system that needs only a wall plug for power. My take is that data cable is easier to pull, hide, modify and fish the AC power. And...with powerline adapters, you get the same level of installation ease and options as a mesh system: put a WAP where ever there is an AC plug withough running cabling.

    The UBNT stuff can be setup, monitored, and managed via a simple to use app on your mobile device. Hard to beat that for simplicity.
     
  7. techwarrior macrumors 65816

    techwarrior

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    #7
    Technically, hubs and switches are different beasts. A more accurate statement would be... sometimes mistakenly called a hub.

    Hubs broadcast each packet to each host wired to the hub, including other hubs. Each device has to inspect and process, or drop every data packet sent by any host connected to the hub or neighboring network hubs. Congestion, collisions, and delays are the soup de jour.

    Switches create an ARP table (Address Resolution Protocol), as each device comes online, the MAC address (Layer 2) gets associated with the IP address (Layer 3). Now when a packet arrives with the destination address of X, the switch looks up which port X is on, and sends the packet to that host, and that host only. If the destination is unknown, the packet is sent to the router to sort it out.

    Switches can handle more traffic because there are fewer collisions. You rarely find hubs anymore, most network devices are switches because the memory\cache prices and software are low cost and open source.

    Otherwise, good post.
     
  8. hobowankenobi macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
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    on the land line mr. smith.
    #8
    True.

    Just trying to keep it simple...for non-technical folks following along.

    Agreed, different....but the terms still get used interchangeably.
     

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7 June 8, 2019