Tip for Airport Extreme changing speeds being delivered

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by Jovian9, Feb 22, 2017.

  1. Jovian9 macrumors 68000

    Jovian9

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2003
    Location:
    Planet Zebes
    #1
    Hey all.

    I've got a 300mbps down/300mbps up internet service. I see close to that nearly all the time. However, yesterday I noticed a drop in my speeds and it was pushing 50 down/10 up. After restarting my Airport Extreme (latest model), my computers, calling my ISP, etc. I couldn't determine what it was. Plugging my iMac directly in (skipping the AE) gave me back my speeds.

    Well, while searching online I found this gem: http://www.imore.com/getting-slow-s...t-extreme-or-airport-express-heres-how-fix-it

    In Airport Utility both my 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels were set to automatic. For some reason they were not choosing the best possible channel. As soon as I took them off automatic and chose channels for them (started with the lowest) my speeds went right back up to where they should be.

    Not sure why the automatic option wouldn't choose the best channel, but it's resolved now. In case you see something like this, here's how you might fix it.
     
  2. satcomer macrumors 603

    satcomer

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  3. techwarrior macrumors 6502a

    techwarrior

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Location:
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    #3
    Unfortunately, 2.4GHz band is saturated with contention from neighbor's networks and other devices.

    Part of the problem is, 2.4 has a longer range (than 5GHz). This is a blessing and a curse. As a result, neighbors Wi-Fi may be in range and on the same channels since most of us don't think about tweaking these settings. Every Wi-Fi device that is tuned to the same channels will contend for access to the network, even if the network is a foreign SSID and you have not authenticated. The packets are simply discarded by unauthenticated networks, but the client (Mac, iPhone, etc) will re-transmit until it finds a viable connection or can get exclusive access to a channel to send\receive a packet. All of this slows things considerably. Further, 2.4GHz frequencies contend with radio waves from cordless phones, bluetooth and 2.4GHz keyboards and mice, microwaves, garage door openers, and even radar. So, if there is a surge in activity with 2.4GHz devices in range of your network, all of these packets contend for access to your Wi-Fi devices and slow things down even more, this may be temporary, but will often happen in "prime-time". Most of these "dumb" 2.4 devices use channel 6, setting your channel to 1 or 11 often helps considerably, provided neighbors aren't already doing so.

    If your Extreme supports 5GHz bands as well as 2.4 (it does per your comments), you might try setting the SSID for the 5GHz different from the 2.4, NETWORK and NETWORK5G for instance. Then, on your client devices that support 5GHz, "forget" the 2.4 GHz network and only use the 5G network connection. Problem is, selection of 2.4 vs 5G is done on signal strength primarily, so at longer distance from the router, 5G may have a weaker signal but less contention and still be faster than competing for access on 2.4 frequencies. Hard selecting the 5G network overcomes this as your devices won't try to connect to 2.4 networks.

    5GHz has a shorter range, so less area coverage area, but also less interference from neighboring networks. If other networks are seen on 5GHz, tuning channels will help as it does with 2.4. 5G has more channels so more room to separate channels. If you can get sufficient signal strength throughout your home on the 5G frequency, use it. If not, consider adding an additional AP Express or something to create a Roaming network and thus provide a stronger signal in remote areas of your home. If possible, disable 2.4 GHz on the remote access point and only use 5GHz to avoid channel overlaps and only extend the 5G signal since 2.4's longer range should be adequate from the main router.

    Roaming networks require Ethernet connections between the remote Access Point and the main router (AP Extreme in your case). If running Cat5e or better cable is difficult, consider MOCA or Ethernet over Powerline bridges to pass the Ethernet signal to the remote location. MOCA (uses existing Coax cables) or Powerline adapters are relatively inexpensive (compared to pulling cable through an old house) and some can approach 1GB speeds or better in the right conditions. Don't go cheap, older MOCA and Poweline adapters had poor performance, but newer tech has improved performance greatly. MOCA is typically how satellite TV and some cable services connect secondary receivers to the main DVR.

    Airports also support Extended networks, sharing the Wi-Fi radio to uplink connections from the router to the remote AP, but this tends to kill Wi-Fi speeds as the same radio must provide both client and router data connections, thus reducing bandwidth by up to 50%. Avoid this method if adding additional access points.
     
  4. Jovian9 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jovian9

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    #4
    Thanks for the info.

    The AE is only about 18 months old. I bought one on here recently and am about to use it to extend to my basement as I have an express being used to extend upstairs.

    Back when the Xbox 360 came out I used the powerline adapters to do ethernet to it. I may have to get some upgraded ones and then use the express and other AE as 5GHz extensions, as you mentioned.
     
  5. techwarrior macrumors 6502a

    techwarrior

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    #5

    I am using a TP Link TL-PA8010P which claims 1200Mbps. Amazon has them listed for about $72. I have not measured exact speeds but the AP Express that uses this powerline connection gives me Internet speeds equal to my AC Time Capsule on 5GHz frequency (but obviously slower peer to peer transfers than an AC Wi-Fi connection which approaches 1300Mbps). The Express only offers 802.11n on 5GHz, speeds max at about 150Mbps, but my ISP service is only 50Mbps, so the Powerline and Express are not the bottlenecks.

    If you need 300Mbps speeds to match your ISP service, AC routers are the way to go. The current model AP Extreme (the tall one that is similar footprint to the AppleTV) and current Time Capsule are the only Airport products that offer 802.11ac. Both can be used as Access Points or Routers and create a roaming network with 5GHz speeds up to 1300Mbps.

    Given 1Gbps ISP services are still rare in most places, current Wi-Fi is adequate. But with 5G Wireless (we will start seeing this in 2017), ISP may start offering up to 4Gbps fixed Wireless Internet service to homes (probably will start at 1Gbps then work it up as demand dictates). When that happens, Wi-Fi speeds within the home will need some attention to take full advantage of the ISP speeds. There is even a new Ethernet standard that offers 2.5 - 5Gbps over Cat5e\6 cables, it is still in the early stages (being used in businesses but not yet homes) but will probably become common in the next few years.

    The interesting thing with 5G Wireless Internet service is the cost to reach homes will be significantly less than dropping or upgrading coax\copper\fibre into our homes. One radio in a neighborhood might serve dozens of homes. So, ISP are eager to roll this out and displace the cable and phone companies.

    So, for future proofing, rather than going the Express route, you might consider going the Extreme route with AC to extend the signal range on your network.
     
  6. danielsebas macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2018
    #6

    Well I had this problem with 2 AirPort Extreme routers and I just solve them doing this:

    I first change channels from automatic to manual but nothing happened.
    In iPhone there is an option to downgrade your AE firmware so I downgraded from 7.7.9 to 7.7.3 and still have the problem. Then I upgraded again to 7.7.9 and problem solved, my speed was almost back to normal. I switched channels to automatic again and the speed was back to normal. Now it is the same as the ISP speed hired.
    Hope it works for all.
     
  7. palebluedot macrumors 6502a

    palebluedot

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    Jun 29, 2008
    #7
    Two questions:

    1) Why does automatic not change the channel when it notices congestion?

    2) I am about to upgrade my Time Capsule N for a Time Capsule AC (latest gen), even though they are being discontinued because I love them, they are rock solid. I thought the newest ones had dual antennas to negate the need to separate out 2.4 and 5, since beam forming allows 5GhZ to be more specific?
     
  8. techwarrior macrumors 6502a

    techwarrior

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    Jul 30, 2009
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    Colorado
    #8
    Because Apple never built that much "smart" into the WiFi functionality of the router. Channels were not so critical when WiFi was relatively rare, but in today's world where everyone has WiFi, it has become more critical.

    AC Time Capsule supports both 2.4 and 5, not sure if it is separate radios\antennas or not. Regardless, it uses beamforming even with both frequencies enabled.
     
  9. palebluedot macrumors 6502a

    palebluedot

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    #9
    But beam forming is an AC only spec, right? Like you can't beam form a Wireless N 2.4 signal?
     
  10. techwarrior macrumors 6502a

    techwarrior

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    Jul 30, 2009
    Location:
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    #10
    Right.

    Your car antenna is capable of receiving radio signals on both AM and FM frequencies. These range from 540-1600 kHz (AM) and 88.1-108.1 MHz (FM). TV antenna receive UHF and VHF signals over the same antenna.

    With data, it uses a packet caching mechanism to wait for a free slice of time to send or receive a packet of data and it sends or receives on whatever frequency the two devices agreed upon during authentication handshakes. Like switching stations on TV or radio, the "tuner" is changing the frequency it is filtering for or transmitting on.

    It would stand to reason separate radio chips and antenna are used for each, but that is not necessarily true. Again, not really necessary to understand the mechanics as to understand Time Capsule can do simultaneous 2.4\5Ghz and with 5Ghz, it uses beamforming to concentrate the signal in the general direction of the peer.
     
  11. palebluedot macrumors 6502a

    palebluedot

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    Jun 29, 2008
    #11
    Thanks for your answers! TIL
     
  12. satcomer macrumors 603

    satcomer

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    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    The Finger Lakes Region
    #12
    You have to ask yourself how old is the house or building to use Power line connectors?
     

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